CLIFTON PARK - Dennis Martin Ryan, 58, of Clifton Park, passed away unexpectedly on May 21, 2012, at his place of employment in Clifton Park.
Ryan was born March 7, 1954, to Joseph and Harriet Ryan in Saranac Lake and raised in Chateaugay. One of two brothers, Ryan earned the nickname "Rooster" early in his youth among Chateaugay residents for his boisterous attitude, reddish-blond hair, cowlick and proclivity for "chasing hens."
From a young age, Ryan developed a fascination for the world of radio, making frequent visits to his older brother at SUNY Plattsburgh, who ran the university station for several years. Further exploring this interest, Ryan earned his Third Class Operator's License from the Federal Communications Commission, giving him the ability to go on air - at the young age of 16. The same year marked the beginning of Ryan's lifelong love with Cadillac cars, receiving one on his 16th birthday.
He attended St. Joseph's Academy, earning his Regents diploma in 1972, as well as the opportunity to attend Norwich University following his graduation.
At Norwich, Ryan was the captain of the Color Guard and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history, government and pre-law studies. Simultaneously, Ryan pursued a cooperative opportunity between Norwich and Vermont College that allowed him to earn his Associate of Science in criminal justice in 1975.
After graduating from Norwich in 1976, Ryan continued his quest for radio greatness. Over time, he became known as a "turn-around expert" in the business, making lasting and changing impacts among countless radio stations across the nation. In 1991, Ryan earned the prestegious National Association of Broadcasters "Best of the Best" Award, given to only one broadcaster in the nation on an annual basis. Combining a childhood interest in toy trains with his love for radio, Ryan additionally piloted a project that led to the on-air premier publication and narration of "The Polar Express," first in Dubuque, Iowa, and later in Elmira. Ryan's unforgettable and powerful voice provided the narration.
Eventually, Ryan worked his way up to positions of leadership in the radio world, serving as the vice president and group manager at the Sabre Communications Group in Elmira, covering five stations in the area, and later as the president and general manager of WIRD and WLPW-FM in Lake Placid.
However, Ryan was a man of many hats, both literally and figuratively if one took a look at his closet, and later successfully pursued careers as the vice president of NASCAR Marketing at Cicci-Welliver Racing/NASCAR and, most recently, as a financial advisor at NPA Financial Services in Clifton Park, a senior professional in human resources and a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
While no one can deny his success as a professional, every person he affected with his larger-than-life attitude can agree that Ryan embodied the spirit of the community and volunteerism like no other.
During the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, Ryan was a commentator as well as the creator and producer of the Olympic Radio Network. Later, he served as the Lake Placid delegate to the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984 and Calgary in 1988. A continued committed citizen to Lake Placid for years to come, Ryan also served as chairman of the board for the Lake Placid and Essex County Visitors Bureau, which today is called the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.
A true and unwavering patriot, Ryan was a strong presence in numerous community events throughout the years. He created and orchestrated Lake Placid's annual Fourth of July celebration, "Set the Night to Music," a unique and incredible experience, combining his abilities with firework choreography as a certified pyrotechnician, radio and music.
Ryan's voice - unique and memorable in itself - could be heard at numerous sports events, including as an announcer at the Empire State Games. Ryan was also the founder and chairman for the J. Bernard Fell Olympic Torch Restoration Committee, displaying his commitment to maintaining the "Miracle" of Lake Placid with the re-lighting of the 1980 Olympic torch at the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics. In 2010, he earned the prestegious title of Lake Placid's "Volunteer of the Year."
A modern Renaissance man, Ryan not only excelled professionally and in the community; his hobbies surpassed the every day and average - a testament to his high-achieving personality. Ryan was a Federal Aviation Administration-licensed pilot with an Instrument Rating and High Performance Aircraft Endorsement, as well as an honorary member of both the Horseheads Village Fire Department and the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department.
Ryan was also known for his quirky characteristics and sometimes inflated ego. His love for Swiss cheese and Triscuits was unmatched in the world of appetizers. He enjoyed nothing more than a sip of Johnny Walker Blue Label, owned a fire truck or two in his day, and Lake Placid residents would hardly be surprised at a man dressed in an Elvis costume when Ryan was in town for a weekend.
Ryan is survived by his wife of 18 years, Barbara Ryan of Clifton Park; his brother, Joseph Ryan of Buchanan; five sisters-in-law: Judy Scammell of Lake Placid, Gun Rand of Lake Placid, Mary Farr of Montoursville, Pa., Daisy Ryan of Buchanan and Terri Rand of Lake Placid; five brothers-in-law: Don Scammell of Lake Placid, Jay Rand of Lake Placid, Dan Farr of Montoursville, Pa., Steve Rand of Lake Placid and John Rand of Lake Placid; 12 nieces: Nikki Todd of Bozeman, Mont., Ingrid Stanton of Lake Placid, Stephanie Farr of Glenolden, Pa., Janne Rand of Albany, Denja Rand of Lake Placid, Stanzi McGlynn of Lake Placid, Tanner, Tess, and Tristin Stanton of Lake Placid, Jennifer and Julia DiPietro of Seaford and Leah Metzler of Lancaster, Pa.; and six nephews: Jeremiah Ryan of Patchogue, Tyler Rand of Lake Placid, Owen Rand of Lake Placid, Anders Stanton of Lake Placid, Jack DiPietro of Seaford and Luke Metzler of Lancaster, Pa.
Lake Placid held a special place in the heart of Ryan - so much that he married a local. The same can be said for Lake Placid's heart, which will hold a special place for the Elvis impersonator, firework choreographer and dear friend that graced its streets for more than 30 years. He will be remembered by his sage words of advice: "Always do the right thing ... even when nobody is looking." Elvis has left the building.
A service to honor Ryan will be held Friday, May 25, 2012, at10 a.m. at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 169 Hillcrest Ave., Lake Placid. The Rev. John Yonkovig will officiate. Burial will be at St. Patrick's Cemetery, Chateaugay, at the convenience of the family. The M.B. Clark Inc. Funeral Home in Lake Placid is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Olympic torch restoration fund. Checks may be made payable to "Town of North Elba" with the memo line designation "Torch Restoration Fund." Gifts are tax-deductible and should be mailed to: Town of North Elba, 2693 Main St., Lake Placid, NY 12946.
Relatives and friends are invited to "light a candle" and leave thoughts, memories and prayers online at www.mbclarkfuneralhome.com.
(Editor's note: The memorial donation information has been updated at the request of Mr. Ryan's family.)