Cover photo for James Francis Ryan's Obituary
James Francis Ryan Profile Photo
1939 James 2020

James Francis Ryan

October 5, 1939 — April 24, 2020

The world sadly lost two beautiful souls but gained two guardian angels who are looking down on all of us who loved them.  On April 24, 2020, James Francis “Jim” Ryan, 80, unexpectedly passed away peacefully of a heart attack at home and on April 25, 2020, Harriet Smith “Hennie” Ryan, 76, also passed away after suffering a heart attack after being taken to the hospital.  The family is shaken by this sudden loss but takes comfort in knowing they are together as there is no doubt that they loved each other more than anything and also in knowing how much people cared about this special couple.

Jim was born on October 5, 1939, to Vincent J. Ryan Sr. and Frances McHugh Ryan in Detroit, Michigan.  He graduated from the University of Detroit High School and from the University of Detroit Mercy with an Accounting Degree. 

Jim was united in marriage to Harriet Smith Ryan on April 14, 1978, in Detroit, Michigan and they had just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary.  

Jim started his career in the steel industry in Michigan, retired in 2002 after 17 years as the store manager for Frisch’s Big Boy in Cincinnati, and then had a third career in Florida with time at LinkSide Cafe in Burnt Store Marina and Vic’s Primo Pizza and Restaurant.

Jim loved to play golf, was an avid sports fan, and loved a good political discussion.  He was a loving and supportive husband, father, brother, and friend.  He was well-loved by all that knew him and could make anyone feel welcome.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Vincent J. Ryan Jr. and his brother-in-laws Raymond J. Fischer Jr. and Ward C. Smith.  He was immediately followed in death by his wife, Harriet Smith Ryan.  

He is survived by his daughter: Caroline “Carrie” Elizabeth Ryan and her partner Robert M. “Bob” Davis; grand-puppy: Tucker Ryan-Davis; sister: Mary Lou Fischer: sister-in-law’s: Elaine Ryan, Lucinda Smith and Peg Sterling (Dan); nieces and nephews: Lynn Fischer, Raymond J. “Ray” Fischer III, Michael Fischer, Vincent J. “Vince” Ryan III (Melissa), Rosanne Allen (Jeff), Mary Frances Daly, Shannon VanLoon (Adam), Laura Palay (David) and April Smith-Matney (Stephen) and all of their children, and his cherished friends. 

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a burial will take place later in Maysville, Kentucky. A joint Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when friends and family can gather safely in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Memorial contributions may be made to Elon University at or Mail to Office of University Advancement, 2600 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244.  Please include their daughter’s name in the comments. 

Condolences may be sent to the family at

Irish Blessing: “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sunshine warm upon your face. May the rains fall upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Prayer: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

To express condolences to the family and share in celebrating the life of James, please visit and sign the online guestbook.  Arrangements are by Johnson Taylor Funeral and Cremation.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Francis Ryan, please visit our flower store.


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