Chaplain (Colonel) James “Jack” Ryan, Jr. US Army (Retired)

6 February, 19516 January, 2021

Chaplain (Colonel) James “Jack” Ryan, Jr. US Army (Retired), 69, of Mabelvale, AR passed away on January 6, 2021. He is preceded in death by his mother and stepfather, Betty and B.C. Wells, Jr. and his stepmother, Alice Ryan. He is survived by his father, Major General James A. Ryan (Retired); wife of 47 years, Barbara Kay; daughter, Jenny Ryan Evans of Mabelvale; sons, James A. Ryan, III (Trey) of Benton, Benjamin (Linsey) of Alexander; Grandchildren Olivia Evans, Whitley and Beau Ryan, and Lincoln Ryan; Brother, John Patrick Ryan (Lindsey) of Little Rock; sisters Barbara Hesse of Arkadelphia, Patti Wingfield (Greg) of Camden, and Mary Krikorian (Serge) of Benton; Brother-in-law, Johnny Toombs (Lois) of Texarkana. As well as, many nieces, nephews, family and friends. Jack was a 1969 graduate of Gurdon High School. In 1973, he married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Kay. Their relationship started when she was a freshman in high school, and he was a senior. Together for over 50 years, Barbara was his biggest protector and number one supporter. Jack received his B.A. degree in History from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR. He went on to receive a Master of Divinity in Theology from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, TX. After seminary, he pastored Belcher Presbyterian Church and Dixie Presbyterian Church (1976-1978), First Presbyterian Church of Mount Pleasant, TX (1978-1989), and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gulfport, MS (1989-1991). He was an Ordained Minister with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and endorsed for Chaplaincy by the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel. Jack enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1980 as Chaplain (1st Lieutenant) and served 23 years. Following his retirement from the Army National Guard, he served in the United States Army Reserve for 7 years. In 2004, he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq. Jack served as Chaplain in the 49th Armored Division and 112th Armor Regiment in Texas; State Area Command (STARC) in Mississippi; 455th Transportation Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade, State Area Command (STARC), 460th Chemical Brigade, 420th Engineer Brigade, and the 90th Regional Readiness Command in Arkansas. He was awarded 3 Army Commendation Medals, 8 Army Reserve Components Achievement Medals, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, 2 National Defense Service Medals, Army Achievement Service Medal, Arkansas Commendation Medal, 2 Texas Medal of Merit, Texas Faithful Service Medal, and many ribbons. He retired in 2011 as Chaplain (Colonel), after a career total of 30 years and 2 months. In 1991, after being in the pastorate for 15 years, Jack moved his family back to Arkansas and began his career at the Central Arkansas Veteran’s Healthcare System. He served as Staff Chaplain for 8 years and Chief of Chaplain Service for 22 years. He retired in May of 2020 after 30 years. At the time of his death, Jack was serving as Pastor of Crossroads Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Bryant, AR. A congregation he dearly loved. Known by Jackie, Jack, Dad, Reverend, Pastor, Chaplain, Colonel; His favorite name to be called was Pop. He loved his grandkids and was always willing to tell you all about each one. He was so proud of them. Memorial service with military honors will be held on January 14, 2021 at 10:00AM at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery, 1501 West Maryland Avenue, North Little Rock, AR officiated by Chaplain (Colonel) Leonard Higgins US Army (Retired). A celebration of Jack’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Crossroads Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 2754 Mountain View Road, Benton, AR 72019.


  • Memorial Service

    Thursday, 14 January , 2021


Chaplain (Colonel) James “Jack” Ryan, Jr. US Army (Retired)

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mala Waller

18 January 2021

Prayers of comfort to the family of a wonderful man that blessed and enriched the lives of so many. Chaplain Ryan shared my love and respect for our military veterans. I retired Dec 2019 after 33 years from Central AR Veterans Healthcare System and had the honor of many visits with his office, in hallways, on the grounds. It didn’t matter where our paths crossed, he always greeted me with a big hug, smile, and a witty or inspirational remark.

He welcomed me into his office many times where I learned more about his personal life, military experiences, and his faith. His wise counsel, empathy, love, and spirit helped me in more ways than he probably knew. We prayed with as well as for each other and we always prayed for our veterans.
As much as we talked, I never knew until I read his obituary that Johnny Toombs is his brother-in-law! “Coach Toombs” as I knew him from his time at Ashdown High School, taught me and my siblings and coached my brothers in football (maybe basketball). He also sometimes drove the school bus when I played basketball. I have fond memories of Lois and Teresa riding with us.

Thank you, Chaplain Ryan for your service, and thanks to his family for sharing him with so many of us who loved and admired him.


15 January 2021

I was so saddened to hear about Jack's passing. I have thoroughly enjoyed knowing him and working with him thru Arkansas Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. I visited Crossroads CP Church one Sunday morning and was so uplifted by his sermon but even more so by the evident joy he had for the people of the church as he proudly showed me around the facilities of the church. Rest in peace will be sorely missed.

Joetta Milhoan Duke

14 January 2021

General Ryan and Barbara,
I am so saddened to hear of Jackie’s recent death. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but after reading all of his history, I know you both are so so proud of him and his accomplishments, but more so of the man he became and his friend to so many.
I smile thinking of my Dad standing, saluting and so excited to see another soldier in his midst, especially one related to his friends, the two of you. Dick and I pray that you find smiles through your memories , strength through your family , and peace through your faith. Please know that we care and that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Joetta Milhoan Duke

Betty Atkins

13 January 2021

So sorry to hear of Chaplin Ryan’s passing . I met him when he was appointed as the “acting” Director
of Volunteer Services while looking for a replacement to fill this office. He was a kind friend who always asked about one’s
family. We held a reception on
National Prayer Day a few years ago and I made sure we had some
sugarless cake for him !
We will miss him and know God
is keeping him busy in heaven,

william (Mark) herrick

13 January 2021

The Chaplain was always kidding around, making people laugh, and sharing his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. I had the honor of serving with him at the 90th in Little Rock and calling him my friend and mentor (sometimes tormentor :) He was a man to look up to, learn from and enjoy the company of....I will always remember him with a smile on my face...One Great American

Fred (Butch) Martin

12 January 2021

General, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during your time of grief over the loss of Jack. As you know I served with him through varied assignments. He was always there for those in need. I will forever remember him as a true soldier, and one who took the duties of Chaplain to heart. He could be the one to listen and guide a soldier if needed and he could also be the one to share a good joke and laugh to another soldier if that was needed. I will always remember Jack for the way he touched the lives of those who had the privilege to know him.
Butch & Brenda Martin

Carol Smith

11 January 2021

I met Jack Ryan when I brought my mom to his church while she was alive for Sunday Services. He was a wonderful person who gave his all to everyone he met. He was caring, loving and “loved” his pie. I will miss him. He holds a special place in my heart forever. Prayers to all of his family.

Fanchette Vickers

10 January 2021

I knew Chaplain Ryan when I worked at the NLR VA. Truly saddened to hear of his passing. He was my spiritual friend. How blessed VA Veterans and employees were graced by his ministry, compassionate spirit and love of country. He was one of us, a Veteran. Prayers for his family.

Marie Lisko

10 January 2021

Chaplin Ryan was one of my favorites during my long career at the VA. He always had a smile and ministered through that smile and the exceptional kindness he displayed to so many veterans, their families and hospital staff. Rest in peace gentle soul.

Libby Hebel

10 January 2021

Such an awesome pastor, best hugs on earth!!