CLINTON — Gerald Francis “Jerry” Ryan, 81, of Clinton, passed from this world at 5:12 p.m. on January 17, 2018, at St. John’s Hospital, in Springfield, surrounded by those he loved. Jerry will be remembered as a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and a loyal friend to many.
Born on January 24, 1936, in Heyworth, to James Vincent and Helen (Donovan) Ryan, Jerry attended Wapella schools, graduating in 1953. He was a member of the Future Farmers of America and played basketball for the Wapella Wildcats. He remained proud throughout his life of his early achievements, including the time he and his classmates earned First Place in the DeWitt County Rural School Scrap Drive in 1943.
After graduation from high school, Jerry joined his dad in operating the family farm. He entered the army in 1959 and served in the U.S. Army Reserves. Later, Jerry would work for the Illinois Railroad while continuing a career in agriculture.
On August 1, 1959, Jerry married his wife of 58 years, Mary Ann (Grady), at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wapella, and the couple raised two children, including Cynthia Ryan (Bruce) McComiskey of Birmingham, Ala. Jerry is survived by his wife, children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren as well as a brother, Thomas Henry (Rosemary) Ryan of Orland Park; sister-in-law, Sharon (Raymond) Ryan of Bloomington; and ten nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death are his parents and two brothers, Leo Vincent, and Raymond Joseph “Buddy” Ryan.
A long-time parishioner of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, in Clinton, Jerry was active in the Knights of Columbus and could always be counted on to contribute to church activities, whether playing Santa Claus at the annual Christmas party for persons with disabilities or helping to clean out a storeroom or mend a leaky roof. In recognition of their commitment to a life centered on faith and farming, Jerry and his wife were honored with the St. Isidore Award by the Peoria Diocese in 2008. He was a member of the Clinton Eagles and American Legion, and for 10 years, Jerry served on the Dewitt County Board. He also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and gave willingly of his time and gifts to a number of other local, national, and global organizations.
Jerry will be dearly missed by his family, for whom he cared passionately. His absence will also be felt at several grain elevators in the area, where he regularly shared a cup of coffee and conversation with his fellow farmers. His quick Irish wit, lifelong curiosity, love of the land, and enduring spirit will live on through the memories of those who mourn his loss while celebrating his rich life.
A memorial mass will be held on Thursday, January 25 at 11 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, in Clinton, with a celebratory dinner to follow. Visitation is scheduled prior to mass from 10-11 a.m. The family requests that donations in Jerry’s memory be given to Prairie Heart Foundation, 619 E. Mason Street, Springfield, IL 62701 (designate St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur) or Future Farmers of America in Clinton. Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, assisted the family.
Online condolences may be made at www.calvertmemorial.com