James E. Ryan, 91, of Cedar Rapids, died Monday, July 29, 2019, at Higley Mansion Care Center in Cedar Rapids following a short illness. Services: 10 a.m. Monday at St. Jude Catholic Church by the Rev. Mark Murphy. Burial: St. Joseph Cemetery. A vigil service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at Teahen Funeral Home, where friends may visit with the family from 4 to 8 p.m. and after 9 a.m. Monday at the church.
Jim was born in Cedar Rapids, the fifth child of John and Catherine (Walsh) Ryan. He attended Immaculate Conception Grade School and graduated from McKinley High School in 1945. He briefly attended the University of Iowa, where he was a walk-on member of the football team before enlisting in the U.S. Navy and serving overseas in Japan as a medical corpsman during World War II.
In 1950, he enrolled as an apprentice electrician in the IBEW Local 405. During Jim's 43-year career as a union electrician, he served two years as assistant business agent, three terms as Local 405's president, was on the executive Board of Electricians, the Health and Welfare committee and became a general foreman. A fervent supporter of Union labor, he worked for many companies, including Collins Electric, Quaker Oats, Cedar Rapids Electric, Munson Electric, Bechtel, Duane Arnold Nuclear Power plant and Callaway Nuclear Power plant in Braidwood, Mo.
He was united in marriage to June Johansen in 1951 and they soon started their family. After June's sudden death in 1963, Jim met and married Doris (Campbell) Foran on June 13, 1967. Jim spent much of his free time working to support the Democratic Party, knocking on doors, making phone calls and serving on the Democratic Central Committee and as a Democratic delegate. Together with Doris, Jim enjoyed traveling to many parts of the country as a Democratic Union representative, including being invited to attend the 1977 inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in Washington, D.C.
A proud descendant of Irish immigrants who grew up in the Great Depression, service to others was the cornerstone of Jim's life. Jim was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a charter member of St. Jude Catholic Church, where he actively volunteered his time and talent and looked forward each year to being the "on-call" electrician for the annual parish Sweet Corn Festival. He spent many volunteer hours wiring houses for Habitat for Humanity and working with the retired Union electricians "Old Farts' Electric" following the 2008 Cedar Rapids flood to rewire numerous home throughout the community. Jim was deeply honored to participate in the Washington, D.C., Honor Flight commemorating his service as a World War II veteran.
Jim will be remembered for his service to others, love of family and friends and his witty Irish storytelling ability. He was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather who counted it a great blessing to live such a long and happy life. During the last years of his life, Jim was assisted by many angels here on Earth, including the nurses, doctors and staff at Mercy Medical Center, the staff at Higley Mansion and the Hospice of Mercy, who took such good care of him during his illness.
Jim is survived by his son, J. Chris Ryan of Kailua Kona, Hawaii; stepdaughter, Karen (Larry) Schall of Cedar Rapids; and daughter, Laura (Shane) Ryan Ripley of Dubuque; grandchildren, Melissa Fenton, Shaun Fenton (Jessica O'Hara), Matthew Schall, Amber Schall, and Christopher, Isaac and Monica Ripley; great-grandchildren, Noah and Alex Hess, Quinlynn O'Hara, abd Ashleigh and Izayah Fenton; and a sister-in-law Betty Ryan.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, June; second wife, Doris; his son, Dan; his parents; his sisters, Winnie Moes, Kathleen Baker and Joan Brady; his brothers, Robert, Tom, Dan and Patrick Ryan; and a great-granddaughter, Stazia Fenton.
Jim will be greatly missed and never forgotten. Memorials may be sent to St. Jude Catholic Church.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.teahenfuneralhome.com.