Mary Ann Ryan

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mary Ann (Grady) Ryan, 86, of Birmingham, Ala., passed away peacefully at 9 a.m. on July 16, 2023, at University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, surrounded by family.

Born on August 26, 1936, in Decatur, Ill., Mary Ann was raised on her family’s farm in Dewitt County. From a young age, she was active in school clubs, performing in plays and attending dances with her friends. She was involved in community organizations like FHA and 4-H, where she tried her hand at everything from baking to sewing. Mary Ann loved being around people and was always eager to contribute her talents to the causes she believed in.

She graduated from Illinois State University in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in education. Later, she earned a master’s degree, also from Illinois State, specializing in reading. All her life, Mary Ann was a vociferous reader who thought that every child should be introduced to the pleasure of books.

Mary Ann married Gerald “Jerry” Francis Ryan on August 1, 1959, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wapella. In her wedded life, she juggled responsibilities as a farm wife with a career in teaching.

Mary Ann was a talented musician who served as the organist and pianist for many years at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. At St. John’s, she was active in Altar and Rosary, occupying multiple officer positions.

She served on the board of directors for Vespasian Warner Public Library and helped to facilitate the expansion of the building. A longtime member of Alpha Delta Kappa Teacher’s Sorority, Mary Ann was committed to excellence in education. She took books to the homebound and tutored children after school for many years after retiring from teaching. 

Mary Ann’s hobbies and interests included reading, embroidery, puzzles, theatre and travel. She loved musicals, and in her later years, enjoyed the occasional Bollywood film with her daughter. Reluctantly, she also performed in a TikTok video or two with her granddaughters. Mary Ann will be remembered as someone who always had a smile on her face and an open heart. She brought much love and compassion to the world.

Survivors include her daughter, Cynthia Ryan (Bruce) McComiskey, Birmingham, Ala., and a son; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; in-laws Thomas and Rosemary Ryan of Orland Park, Ill.; and nine nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband; parents Joseph and Lucille Grady; parents-in-law James Vincent “JV” and Helen Ryan; brothers-in-law Leo Ryan and Raymond “Buddy” Ryan; sister-in-law Mary “Sharon” Ryan; and nephew/godson Kevin Michael Ryan. 

Mary Ann’s life will be celebrated at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on August 11, 2023. Visitation at the church begins at 10 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. with Fr. Thomas R. Szydlik, Celebrant. Burial will follow at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Wapella and lunch after at the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes memorials to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church or Vespasian Warner Public Library, both in Clinton.

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