Donald Ryan

Donald Ryan

Donald Ryan, 95, passed away in late October. He died at home in California,  surrounded by loving family members. He was a long-time resident of Finlayson and Sandstone. 

Don, the fourth of nine children, was born in Finlayson, Minn. to Carl and Guri Ryan.  He attended the District 49 school through 8th grade, then graduated from Finlayson High School when he was 16.  After high school, he attended vocational training for aviation mechanics. Don worked for Northwest Airlines as an aviation mechanic in Fairbanks, AK.  He had many interesting stories from that time period, including having to de-ice the airplanes (DC-3s) manually, and going to the North Pole. When he was on a visit home from Alaska, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) to serve in WWII. While stationed at Fort Riley, KS, he met the love of his life, Louise Armstrong, at a dance. After returning from Guam at the end of the war, Don married Louise. They had five children and shared 68 years together. 

From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Don and Louise owned a couple farms, various businesses including garages in Finlayson and Aurora, Minn., a health food store in Phoenix, AZ, and carpenter shops in Kansas and Minnesota.  He was a skilled carpenter and cabinet maker, having built and remodeled several homes. In 1963, Don began working at the Federal Correctional Institution, Sandstone, and retired in 1983 as General Foreman. Upon retiring, Don and Louise enjoyed traveling throughout the states in their RV, visiting family and friends. Eventually, they sold their home in Finlayson and moved to Safford, AZ for the warmer climate, and to be near their son.  After five years in Safford, they moved to their final home in Woodland, CA to be near their daughters. 

Don was a 58-year member of the American Legion and a member of the Finlayson Sportsman Club. He was an avid outdoorsman who was an excellent marksman and hunter. He enjoyed hunting and fishing with his family and friends.  He also enjoyed playing cards, and working on various home projects. His knowledge, sense of humor, and adventurous stories will be missed. 

Don is preceded in death by his parents and loving wife, Louise, sons Lee Ryan and Timothy Ryan; brothers Eugene Ryan and Robert Ryan, sisters Harriet Strong, Adeline Pleasant and Sally Garbacz. 

He is survived by daughters Maureen (Joaquim) Ryan-Silvestre, Davis, CA, Gina (Adrien) DeMar, Davis, CA, and son Stuart (Cai) Ryan, Safford, AZ, seven grandchildren—Hunter, Megan, Katie, Erin, Jordi, Aaron, and Micah, seven great-grandchildren; and brothers Dave Ryan, Tucson, AZ, Tom Ryan, Finlayson, MN, and sister Betty Jacot, Mesa, AZ. 

There will be a memorial service held at a later date. Interment will be at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, with military honors provided by their Honor Guard.

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