Leonard Thomas Ryan was born on August 25, 1896 in Scranton, Kansas. His parents were John Andrew Ryan and Annie (nee Clark). Mr. and Mrs. John Ryan brought their two young sons, Leonard and Jack Jr. to Ladysmith in 1903 where John found employment in the mines. When the Miners strike of 1903 started they returned to Washington State but came back when the mines reopened.
When they returned from Washington they brought the Ingham and two Hutcheson families with them. Mrs. Ingham was a sister to Annie Ryan and the two Hutcheson ladies were John’s aunts. Mr. Ingham died in 1909 leaving three sons, Douglas, Ronald and Menelaus. Mrs. Elizabeth Ingham took in sewing to support the family but later married a Mr. McLeod. Two sons were born of this marriage, Cyril and Bill.
When Elizabeth died in 1919 Cyril, Bill and Douglas went to live with Mr. and Mrs. John Ryan Sr. going by the name of Ryan and attending public schools in Ladysmith.
After working in the mines for awhile, John Ryan Sr. bought a butcher shop on Roberts Street. He was the first butcher to introduce the celebrated wiener to the children of Ladysmith. Whenever the mothers went to shop, the children were given a wiener to taste. Ryan Sr. eventually sold this shop to a man by the name of Gilroy who in turn sold it to Mr. Bulman. The Ryans left Ladysmith for awhile but on their return in 1921, John Ryan built the Ryan Block and again started a butcher shop and grocery business which he operated for some years. Son Leonard worked with him and took over the shop on his father’s retirement operating it until he retired whereupon his son, Pat carried on the trade running Ryan’s meats.
Leonard met his bride to be, Jennie McDonald Cook while the site for the Ryan block was being excavated. They were married in Nanaimo on February 11, 1924 and had three boys; Gerald, Pat and Raymond. Raymond passed away prematurely at the age of 41 on March 6, 1966. His widow was Shirley Arlane (nee Telford).
Leonard Ryan was one of Ladysmith’s longest running Mayors taking over the helm in 1948 on the retirement of former mayor, Ernest Jameson. In all he served 17 years as Mayor and 2 as an Alderman finally losing the mayor’s seat to Kay Grouhel in 1964. The vote was 716 to 520.
A lot of changes took place in Ladysmith during Len Ryan’s tenure as Mayor. A new city hall was built, the fire department moved into better quarters with modern equipment, roads were paved and the city was debt free.
One of Ryan’s accomplishments was the establishment of the CMHC subdivision in the Holland Creek area which brought needed revenue to the town as it developed. Fittingly one of the roads in the subdivision is named after him. Ryan was also mayor at the time of the sale of the old Ladysmith electric light plant. A reserve account was set up at that time and money from that account was slated to implement the downtown improvement plan. Ryan was also mayor during the years when almost the whole of Ladysmith’s water system was renewed to provide a much better supply and distribution system.
Ryan was very active in the Ladysmith Lions Club and in his earlier days, an active member of the Eagles. He was a keen golfer continuing to play into his 80’s. He was also an avid hunter and for years made a yearly trip up into the Kings Ranch area west of Clinton never coming back empty handed.
Leonard Ryan passed away in Ladysmith at the age of 81 on January 18, 1978 survived by his wife Janet and two sons Gerald of Nanaimo and Pat, of Ladysmith.