Ryan, Kathryn Marie

February 20, 1931 ~ February 24, 2018

Throughout her life, Kathryn Ryan marched to her own drum. Born in 1931, growing up as a girl during the Great Depression and coming of age during the Second World War, she wanted a ticket to see the world. She knew that ticket was education and for a young woman from a traditional farm family in south western Ontario, she was fortunate to have the support of loving parents who recognized their daughter was not about to settle for less.  Ahead of her time, Kathryn graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts, after which she attended the Ontario College of Education in Toronto where she earned her teaching certificate. She taught elementary school and served as a teacher-librarian in Hamilton working at St. Patrick, St. Ann and St. Brigid Catholic Elementary Schools for almost 30 years. Kathryn took full advantage of the world of possibilities that her teaching career opened up for her. She accepted a job with the Canadian Air Force in Germany in the late 1960s teaching the children of Canadian soldiers stationed outside Baden Baden near Germany’s renowned Black Forest. She travelled extensively during this time with her youngest sister Julia Ryan, her mother Josephine (Stapleton) Ryan, her aunt Margaret Michael and several girlfriends visiting France, Italy, Spain, the British Isles and the Soviet Union. When Kathryn returned from Europe, she continued to travel, including trips to Banff, Vancouver and Ottawa to visit her niece Anne Dawson. Kathryn also spent a great deal of time with her brother Leo, his wife Marilynne (Russell) Ryan, and their son Shaun in Sarnia. She had a very special place in her heart for her great-niece Kendra, daughter of Shaun and Diane Young. Just like her mother, Kathryn was a strong woman with a wry sense of humour and a love of all children. Born at home on the farm at Ryan’s Corners in Oil Springs, Ontario, Kathryn’s rural roots played an important part of her life. They grounded her and moulded her in to the common sense, practical woman that she was. They taught her the importance of family, community and friends. Kathryn began her working life helping Uncle Ed Ryan run the family farm. She was given the important responsibility of driving the Ryan team of horses during haying season. She put her strong people skills to use at her parents’ Ryan’s Corners variety store and gas station pumping gas and ringing up customers’ groceries. Her favourite job was helping out on her father Leo P. Ryan’s weekly cream route, a job she did well into her university years. Learning was integral to Kathryn. It’s why she attended university and made the world her library. And it’s why she spent a career imparting her love of learning to children. She had a particular passion for poetry and specified her obituary should end with these four lines from Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Kathryn Marie Ryan passed away Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Idlewyld Manor in Hamilton, four days after her 87th birthday. Loved daughter of the late Leo P. and Josephine (Stapleton) Ryan; dear sister of Julia Ryan; and predeceased by sister and brother, Elizabeth (Ryan) Dawson and Leo Ryan, respectively. Cherished aunt of Jim Dawson, Anne Dawson, John Dawson, Susan Donkers, David Dawson, Joseph Dawson, Keith Dawson and Shaun Ryan, and great aunt to more than two-dozen nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 415 King Street, Petrolia, Ontario April 28, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.

Family and friends will be received at the STEADMAN BROTHERS FUNERAL HOME, 3040 Bridgen Rd., Brigden, Ontario for a celebration of life ceremony April 28, 2018 at 2 p.m. Everyone welcome.


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Condolences (4)

  1. Remembering her wonderful and gentle soul will forever remain in our hearts. May she rest in peace!

  2. My deepest condolences to Kathy’s family. I taught with Kathy at St. Anne ‘s Jr school in Hamilton. She was a wonderful librarian and inspired many children to read and write. I enjoyed listening and learning about the various authors she introduced to the children. Great memories of days gone by.

  3. My sympathy to her family.
    Kathryn was finishing public school when I was starting and how we all looked up to her. I visited often at the Ryan home and Leo gathered our cream weekly, and brought our grocery order from their little store. A life well lived. What memories!

  4. How well I remember Kathryn Eating lunch under the tree on the east side of PDHS – Petrolia District High School with Kathryn & Marjorie McDougall. -all competing for high marks – which Kathryn usually won !ll !