Donald “Don” James Ryan, 82, a retired KOA Inc. who founded two nonprofit corporations, died of cancer on April 25, 2013.
He was born on a farm near Missouri Valley, Iowa, on June 21, 1930, to Leo Ryan and Ruth Cecelia Welbourn Ryan. He attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison for both his bachelor of business administration and master of business administration degrees. He was an Iowa state champion and a three-time Big Ten wrestling champion.
He was an executive for KOA Inc. After his retirement, he formed two nonprofit corporations whose missions were to organize teenagers to undertake public service projects that would benefit low-income families.
Paint Up Montana Inc. painted 115 houses in 14 Montana cities at no cost to the homeowners. Called to Serve Inc. was involved in helping low-income people, providing thousands of hooded bath towels for babies, backpacks with gifts for students, and new winter coats.
Mr. Ryan was also a strong Pro-Life advocate and spurred the building of 15 pro-life highway signs across Montana, raised funds to buy 1,000 pro-life bumper stickers, organized the distribution of 5,000 hoodies for babies for Montana crisis pregnancy centers and helped to organize the Culture of Life convention in Billings recently.
He worked for many years with the Diocesan vocation director in an effort to increase vocations to the Catholic priesthood and to help raise money for the seminarians.
Survivors include Jane, his wife of 60 years; five children, Patrick, Kathy McMeekin, Rita Henkel, Teresa Hjellum and Ann Vollum; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Both the Vigil and Funeral Mass were held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church. The vigil was April 29, and the Funeral Mass was April 30. Arrangements were in the care of Dahl Funeral Chapel.
Memorials may be made to Family Services or St. Vincent de Paul Society, 2610 Montana Ave., Billings MT 59101.