James Herbert Ryan
February 1, 1931 – September 1, 2019
James H. Ryan, Ph.D, was a Sergeant in the Air Force in the Korean War during which he was appointed to West Point. He graduated from the US Military Academy in 1955, commissioned in the Infantry. Jim had various assignments as an Infantry unit commander and aide de camp; then the Army sent him to graduate school. He earned an MA at the University of Pennsylvania in both English Language and English Literature and spent the next 3 years teaching English and formal logic at West Point. From there, he went to Korea and was on the Eighth Army Staff. From Korea, by then a Major, he went to Vietnam, assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Division in the Central Highlands as Personnel Officer for the 3rd Brigade of the Division (1st, 2nd, and 5th Battalions of the 7th Cavalry). Soon, he was assigned as Executive Officer (2nd in command) of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry and Deputy Commander of an independent airmobile task force with the mission of tying down a North Vietnamese force 5 times the task force’s size. The Task Force was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for that operation which is the equivalent of the Distinguished Service Cross. He was decorated 7 times for bravery and meritorious service in combat. After that, he went to the Command and General Staff College and then as a Lt. Colonel, to the office of the chief of personnel on the Army General Staff in the Pentagon. There, he was awarded the Legion of Merit. Jim retired from the Army in 1972 and went to work in his brother’s worldwide business for a few years; after that he took over a small security guard agency in the Washington, D.C. area. He built it up to about 300 guards and started an international security consulting business. Along the way, he attended Harvard Business School, completed an MBA from George Washington University and finished work for his Ph.D. Jim served on the International Board of Governors of the USO (United Services Organization) for 9 years and visited every USO facility in the United States and Europe at his own expense. He sold his company in 1987 but kept the international security consulting business which he operated from his home town of Petersburg, Virginia. Most of his business was in Western Europe and Japan. In 1993 he was elected President of The International Association of Professional Security Consultants. The same year, Jim was elected President of the Historic Petersburg Foundation and President of the Rotary Club of Petersburg. Jim authored a best practices publication on apprehending shoplifters, which was used as a standard all over the country. Jim wrote articles on security in a variety of publications, and was admitted as a forensic expert witness in both state and Federal courts. He retired from business in 1997, spending most of his time on boards of notfor- profit organizations such as the PAAL (Petersburg Area Art League). He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of Rotary International. As a cadet at West Point, Jim, with his beautiful Irish tenor voice, was soloist with the West Point Glee Club and performed in Carnegie Hall multiple times, including in duo with the opera singer Anna Moffo, on the Ed Sullivan Show, and in the Hollywood movie, The Long Grey Line. An airplane pilot as a teenager, Jim was an avid sailor, a cross country skier, and held a black belt in Tang Soo Do (a Korean martial art). He spoke more than a dozen languages. His hobby was researching southern Virginia history, a topic on which he gave many lectures. In 2013, Jim moved with his wife Patricia Abbott-Ryan (deceased in 2015) to Tallahassee, Florida, where his only child, Pamela Ryan, is the viola professor in the College of Music at Florida State University. In Tallahassee he continued his lifelong commitment to Rotary where he often led the club in song, and organized food bagging teams for Second Harvest on Saturday mornings. He sang in the choir at St. Peters Anglican Church and was an active member of West Point support organizations. Jim passed away, after 3 challenging months of hospitalizations, at Westminster Oaks Bertrand Health Center on September 1, 2019. He is survived by his daughter Pam Ryan, grandson Aziz Al-Doory, and cherished friend, Judy Roberts. The family asks that you do not send flowers but if you would like to remember Jim, please make a donation to Second Harvest of the Big Bend. “Celebration of Life” Memorial will be on Friday, Sept. 13, at 2pm in the Maguire Center, Westminster Oaks, Tallahassee, Florida. Burial Ceremony will be on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 10am at the historic Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.
- Celebration of Life Memorial Friday, September 13, 2019
James Herbert Ryan
September 8, 2019
Jim was my special friend. I admire his talented and bravery history. He had contributed so much to the community and to the country. He and I could greet each other in Chinese. His warm smile and compassion will certainly be missed.