Michael J. Ryan, Jr. was born on January 11, 1930 in Fresno, California. The same birthday as his mother, Rosamond “Picky” Ryan. His father was Michael James “Jimmy” Ryan. Mike passed away on July 15, 2019.
He attended St. Therese Elementary School in Fresno and he was a proud graduate of San Francisco’s St. Ignatius High School. He was a two-time All-City football player at SI and was one of the stars of the first SI team to win the SF City football championship in 1945 when they played before 20,000 people at Kezar Stadium. He was a proud Wildcat throughout his life and remained close with his classmates at SI through the rest of his life. He treasured those bonds that were made then.
After his family returned to Fresno from San Francisco in 1947 he met the love of his life Jodell Lord (aka Jodee) when she was 15 years old and he was 17. They shared a special love for over 71 years until Alzheimer’s stepped in seven years ago and just deepened that love. After the children grew up and they had the time, they traveled each Spring and Autumn seeing many parts of the world together. Summers were spent at the family cabin at Huntington Lake with the families coming on the weekends. They had a wonderful life together filled with love and family.
After high school he attended Fresno City College where he was a member of the first two FCC football teams. He played both halfback and quarterback. The first time he touched the ball at FCC he returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown. He was inducted into the FCC Football Wall of Fame in 1999.
He then attended Fresno State and was the starting quarterback on the 1950 football team. After one year at Fresno State he enlisted in the Navy during the Korean War and was stationed in San Diego for his entire enlistment (never set foot on a ship once). The reason being that he was on the Navy base football team and the admirals wanted to keep all of their best football players there so that they could beat the other armed forces base teams. His team was peopled by college all-stars and future professional players. They were good enough to beat the Los Angeles Rams in an exhibition game.
When Mike’s enlistment was over he turned down an offer from the San Francisco 49ers to try out for the team and returned to Fresno to begin raising his growing family. He was a Union Oil Company petroleum distributor, west side farmer and land owner, self-employed investor, and real estate broker. He also opened Earth Shoe stores at Fresno’s Fig Garden Village and in Carmel in the 1970’s with his friend Steve Blumberg.
He was a founding stockholder and member of the Board of Directors of Bank of Fresno, Valliwide Bank and Westamerica Bank. He was an original member and past president of the Fig Garden Swim & Racquet Club. He was a past Board member of the Fresno Junior Chamber of Commerce, East Fresno Lions Club, Fig Garden Home-Owners Association, Fresno County Water Works and Bulldog Foundation.
Additionally, he was a 30 year member of the Elks Club, former member of the San Francisco Olympic Club, and member of the Old Time Athletes Association and the Fresno County and City Chamber of Commerce. He was also on the Board of Directors of the Nazareth House.
He took up tennis after his football playing days were over at the Roeding Park tennis courts with his friend Larry Huebner and then at the Fig Garden Swim & Racquet Club when it was formed in the early 60’s. He made some wonderful friends there and they remained his friends throughout his life.
Mike is survived by his wife, Jodell. They were together for 71 years, married for 68 of those years. He is also survived by his five children; Mike Ryan, Sean Ryan and his spouse Claudia, Kelly Ryan Molthen and her spouse Mark "Mo", Kevin Ryan and his spouse Willa, and Patrick Ryan and his spouse Katie. He was blessed with 15 grandchildren; Michael Ryan, Caitlin Ryan Fry and her husband Will, Quinn Ryan, Jamie Ryan and her fiancé A.J., Erin Molthen Simonson and her husband Jimmy, Conor Molthen, Liam Ryan, Brendan Ryan, Clare Ryan Asper and her husband Peter, Sean Ryan, Kieron Ryan, Aidan Ryan, Paddy Ryan, Declan Ryan and Flynn Ryan. And five great-grandchildren, Mick Simonson, Johnny Simonson, Alice Asper, Eleanor Asper, and Charlie Fry. Mike is also survived by his brothers, Mayo and Greg Ryan, and sister Tookie Appelbe, along with numerous nephews, nieces and cousins and loving friend Cindy Ryan.
The family would especially like to thank the loving care and attention he received at the Nazareth House, from Nancy Hinds Hospice and Sydney Pappas, and Mike Shirinian and his wonderful staff at the Elbow Room, which was Mike's favorite hangout with his best friend, Pat Mon Pere.
Visitation will be on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at The Shrine of St. Therese Catholic Church (Wishon at Floradora Avenue) in Fresno, California, with The Recitation of the Rosary following at 7:00 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, July 25, 2019 at 10:00 AM at the Shrine of St. Therese. Private Entombment will be in St. Peter’s Cemetery Mausoleum, Fresno.
Donations in Mike's honor may be sent to Nazareth House, 2121 N. First Street, Fresno, CA 93703 or Nancy Hinds Hospice, 2490 W. Shaw Avenue, Suite 101, Fresno, CA 93711.
The Nazareth House
2121 North First Street, Fresno CA 93703
2490 West Shaw Avenue, Suite 101, Fresno CA 93711