James J. Ryan

August 18, 1944April 8, 2019

Beloved husband, brother, son, uncle and friend

James Ryan of Norwood, beloved and devoted husband of Carol (Manfra) Ryan for 33 years, passed away at Boston Medical Center on April 8.

He was the brother of Gerald P. Ryan and his wife, Nayda, of Winthrop; and William F. Ryan and his wife, Margaret, of Sandwich; the dear brother-in-law of Marilynn Manfra of Cranston, RI and her late husband Everett Willis; and Michael Manfra of Wilmington. Jim was the loving son of the late Jeremiah and Helen (Waitkus) Ryan; and the adored son-in-law of the late George and Mary Manfra. He leaves a niece and three nephews, two great-nieces and two great-nephews.

Jim graduated from Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury in 1962 and from Curry College in Milton in 1968. He worked as an accountant in the finance office at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) in Boston from 1972 until his retirement in 2002, meeting his soulmate, Carol, who worked in the RMV Purchasing Department, in the early 1980s. Their friendship grew -- the two began dating in July of 1984 and married in September of 1986.

Jim loved photography, fishing and the outdoors. As the taller, quieter, understatedly wittier half of “Jim and Carol / Carol and Jim,” Jim added travel to his list of loves.

On one trip in August 1985 to see Carol in Oxford, England, where she was completing a summer study abroad session, Jim brought a diamond ring with him and Jim and Carol became engaged. Their travels also took them to Paris, Caribbean islands, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji before turning their attention to the American Southwest. Jim loved Arizona and New Mexico, settling into horseback riding as if he had done it all his life.

He loved his family. Niece and nephew Susan Shalhoub and Paul Ryan have fond childhood memories of Uncle Jim taking them bowling, filling his canoe with water in the backyard so it could become a mini-pool for them on hot, summer days, and playing cards at the kitchen table. Nephew Steven Ryan remembers Uncle Jim’s meticulous attention to detail when preparing Lithuanian kugelis (potatoes HAD to be grated by hand) and kielbasi for Christmas Eve dinner.

The Manfra family treasured him as well, with nephew Paul Manfra-Willis joining Auntie Carol and Uncle Jim on many summer vacations at Lake Eden, VT, and sister-in-law Marilynn often telling him what a blessing he was to the family. Jim’s kindness and patience shone through with Carol’s brother Michael, who has developmental disabilities that include autism, and loves to ask the same questions over and over. Jim would welcome Michael into their home for family dinners, patiently answering his questions. He faithfully printed and laminated a Boston Red Sox schedule for Michael, who was keenly interested in sports and schedules, each season.

Jim also loved the Red Sox (even if his suspicion that his watching their games somehow caused the team to lose made him turn off the TV every now and then). This belief continued even after his first trip to Red Sox Spring Training coincided with the team’s 2004 World Series win. There were many other spring training trips to Florida as well.

Jim also loved vegetable gardening, which he did with Carol, planning out the seasons’ gardens, crafting scarecrows and harvesting the crops from his backyard. He followed the weather, and faithfully hung suet cakes for the birds that would visit their backyard. He enjoyed computers and technology, and TV shows about ships, adventures, treasure seeking, unusual sites, World War II history, and space (NASA). In his younger days, he collected coins and stamps and was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman.

Visitation is Friday, April 12, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Gillooly Funeral Home, 126 Walpole St., Norwood. A service will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, April 13 at 10 a.m.

In honor of his late mother, donations may be made in memory of Jim to the Alzheimer’s Association at


  • Visitation in Gillooly Funeral Home Friday, April 12, 2019
  • A Prayer Service will be held in the funeral home Saturday, April 13, 2019

James J. Ryan

have a memory or condolence to add?