LAVALLETTE – When writing an obituary, staff at the Timothy E. Ryan Home For Funerals would talk to family members about their loved one. It can be hard to sum up a life like that.
It’s even harder when it hits so close to home.
Timothy E. Ryan passed away at the age of 68, surrounded by his loving family.
What do you include when telling readers about his life? There are the professional designations and honors from his career as a funeral director. The civic groups. The political history. The faith and heritage groups.
Those are the facts of his life, but those facts only tell a fraction of who he really was.
“He was the best person,” his daughter Erin Ryan said. “He was the funniest guy. He would hold court and he would just tell story after story after story.”
He was genuine, and went above and beyond for other people. “He treated every family like they were his own. He was just an amazing man.”
Looking at all of his accomplishments, it’s clear to see that he left big shoes to fill. She promised that she would uphold his legacy, making it bigger and better, and make him proud.
Born in Orange, New Jersey, he had been splitting his time between Lavallette and Siesta Key, Florida. In his youth, he served an internship with his Uncle Jack at the John J. Ryan Home for Funerals in Keansburg. He became manager of the Colonial Funeral Home in Lavallette. Eventually, he purchased that business and spread out to six locations in the county.
In addition to his education regarding his chosen industry, he also attended St. Joseph Seminary for Franciscan Friars, O.F.M Pulaski, Wisconsin.
Ultimately, his obituary had an impressive list of organizations where he was either a member or held a leadership position. They were all groups dedicated to making peoples’ lives better.
Despite having all this on his plate, he always made time for his family, his daughter said. That came first.
He and had been battling leukemia for 11 years. When he passed away, condolences came from all directions, since he touched a lot of lives.
Some people came to know him from politics. He had been a councilman in Seaside Park, and he was a candidate for U.S Congress in the Third Congressional District of New Jersey and for an Ocean County Freeholder.
Ben Giovine, who is involved in local politics, spoke instead about how Ryan influenced his faith.
“Tim and I developed a friendship through his dedication to the Roman Catholic Church,” he said. “Several years ago, I had made the decision to convert to Catholicism at St. Barnabas. During this time, Tim was a constant source of support and guidance. He had an infectious sense of humor and grit but if you wanted to discuss deeper topics about faith or the church – there was no one better than Tim.”
Robyn Paciulli-Griffith’s first impression of him was when a young friend had been killed by a drunk driver. Ryan had grief counselors at the viewing to talk to people. “When my father passed away two years ago, that’s where I went. He was one of the good ones, taken way too early.”
Later, when she ran for council in Beachwood, she came to learn how his sense of humor lit up a room. “When Timmy was there, everybody was smiling,” she said.
After his passing, people spoke of the various ways he had impacted them. The warmth and professionalism of his staff. The various community efforts he helped. Or even the way he filled up the front lawn of his funeral home with little American flags on patriotic holidays.
But ultimately, he got the last word. When looking through his papers to write his obituary, Erin found a note from him: “I feel sorry for the poor son of a bitch that has to write this obituary, keep your smile on your face.”
Surviving is his beloved wife Denise (Putlock) Ryan; his loving daughter Erin C. Ryan of Seaside Park, NJ; his sisters Mary E. Ryan of Seaside Park, NJ and Alice M. Santangelo of Brick, NJ; his many loving nieces, nephews and good friends and his faithful dog Brody.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation at foundation.flcancer.com or New Jersey Golden Retriever Rescue at grrinj.org. Condolences may be sent by visiting ryanfuneralhome.com.