Jack Ryan, 82, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 17th after a hard fought battle with melanoma.
Jack was born in Creston, IA on January 26th, 1939 to Edward and Bernice Ryan. He grew up on the family farm outside of Lenox, where he also spent time with his grandmother, traveling by horse-and-buggy to deliver piano lessons. At a young age, Jack discovered, like his grandmother, he was blessed with the gift of perfect pitch. Growing up, Jack attended Lenox schools, where he was a successful multi-sport athlete, with baseball among the favorites, and talented musician who specialized in the trumpet.
Jack attended Northwest Missouri State University (“Go Bearcats!”) where he met the love of his life, Karen, playing in the band. Karen and Jack were married after Jack’s service in the United States Air Force, where he traveled the world and played in the Air Force band.
After their wedding on July 25th, Jack and Karen moved to Berthoud, CO, where, Jack liked to say, “Karen put me through school” while he completed his Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus on instrumental music at Colorado State University (“Go Rams!”). Our avid sports fan loved to watch CSU and NWMSU football, Notre Dame football and basketball, Dodgers baseball, Bears football, and of course, our Iowa teams in all sports.
After finishing his Master’s degree, Jack and Karen settled in Spencer, IA, where they devoted their lives to the school and community. Jack used his gifts for music and teaching to develop an award-winning band program and mentor countless students and All-State instrumentalists for over fifty years. Jack also found ways to continually give back to the community, serving the local school board, running for Iowa State Senate, playing bass in local gigs at the Lakes, volunteering for various service organizations, and playing echo taps for area servicemen and women.
Jack was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Karen, and parents, Edward and Bernice. He is survived by his sister, Gingi (Robert) Haag, nephews, Cory (Tiffany) Haag and Michael (Gina) Haag, niece Jaclyn (Ken) Easter, grandnieces Kayla, Michelle, Rowyn, and Cleo, and grandnephew, Elliot.
Jack’s gifts have inspired generations of musicians and teachers, of which his legacy is immortalized. In lieu of flowers, funeral expense donations are greatly appreciated. Monetary donations can be made to The Family of Jack Ryan and sent to 2814 Pinewood Avenue, Orient, IA 50858.
225 West 3rd Street • Spencer, IA 51301 • 712-262-3640 • Fax 712-262-1618