Devoted neighborhood activist Jim Ryan dies

Lifelong community volunteer James “Jim” Ryan died on Friday following a sudden illness.

Jim Ry­an

North­east Phil­adelphia lost a cham­pi­on of the en­vir­on­ment, an ad­voc­ate of safe, clean neigh­bor­hoods and a lifelong an­im­al lov­er on Fri­day when James J. “Jim” Ry­an passed away fol­low­ing a sud­den ill­ness.

Per­haps best known for his long­time ser­vice as vice pres­id­ent of the Friends of Pennypack Park, Ry­an, 70, was a Fath­er Judge High School gradu­ate, a Vi­et­nam-era U.S. Navy vet­er­an and a re­tired em­ploy­ee of the Fed­er­al Re­serve Bank in Phil­adelphia. Ry­an at­ten­ded grade school at Re­sur­rec­tion of Our Lord Par­ish in Rhawn­hurst and was a long­time Ox­ford Circle res­id­ent be­fore set­tling in the Pennypack Woods com­munity.

“All of my life, he was act­ive in the com­munity. Pennypack Park was his life. He was very de­voted to the park and the Town Watch,” said Rose­mary Ma­son, Ry­an’s niece and god­daugh­ter.

Ry­an didn’t have chil­dren of his own, so he ded­ic­ated much of his free time to his many nieces and neph­ews.

“If your car broke down, he’s the one you’d call. If your dog got sick, he’s the one you’d ask for help,” Ma­son said. “He was my god­fath­er and my fa­vor­ite uncle. He was al­ways there and he made you feel im­port­ant.”

Ry­an served nu­mer­ous roles with the Friends of Pennypack Park. As vice pres­id­ent of pub­lic af­fairs, he was a primary li­ais­on with elec­ted of­fi­cials and loc­al po­lice, hav­ing served on three of the four Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cils in the North­east. He worked hard on the FOPP’s monthly cleanup days at vari­ous park loc­a­tions and vo­lun­teered dur­ing the group’s re­cyc­ling days at Lin­coln High School.

Ac­cord­ing to Ma­son, Ry­an was in­volved at Max My­ers Play­ground and Town Watch activ­it­ies dur­ing his years in Ox­ford Circle, and was a reg­u­lar par­ti­cipant in Pennypack Woods as­so­ci­ation activ­it­ies un­til his death. And he gen­er­ally ac­com­pan­ied his com­mit­ment to pur­pose with some wry hu­mor.

“He was the joker of the fam­ily, more of a wise Alec,” Ma­son said.

Out­side of his vo­lun­teer­ism, Ry­an en­joyed spend­ing time with his long­time com­pan­ion Kathy Scheiblein, vis­it­ing Wild­wood, fish­ing and caring for his be­loved dog Mag­gie. He is sur­vived by sis­ters Mar­ie Lamb and Bettyann Shea and many nieces, neph­ews, grand­nieces and grand­neph­ews. He was pre­ceded in death by his sis­ter Rose­mary and broth­ers Mi­chael and Thomas.

A view­ing is sched­uled for Sat­urday from 10 to 11 a.m. at St. Domin­ic’s Church, 8504 Frank­ford Ave., fol­lowed by a Mass cel­eb­ra­tion and buri­al at Re­sur­rec­tion Cemetery in Ben­s­alem. In lieu of flowers, the fam­ily asks that dona­tions may be made in Ry­an’s name to Friends of Pennypack Park. ••

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