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Ryan Hyland

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Ryan Hyland Obituary
Ryan Patrick Hyland, lifelong student, bartender, and beloved community figure, died on June 25th, aged 31
Born in Oakland on a cool August morning. He was eight weeks premature, 19 inches long, christened with epilepsy, the condition he would eventually succumb to. He spent his life fighting one battle after another, smiling all the while.

He desired to contribute to America's story through military service. Inspired by his grandfather, a former Apollo scientist and Naval officer, Ryan held civic duty in the highest regard.

This desire to be part of something bigger would manifest itself throughout his life - earning the rank of Eagle Scout, joining the Freemasons (both Scottish and York Rite), running Tough Mudders with friends, researching family genealogy, and serving as a volunteer deputy with the Chico Police Department.

He lived his life upfront, where he could be seen, heard. He was never bashful about the spotlight, he was never afraid of failing.

Standing well over six foot, his striking eyes, impish smile and booming voice coupled with a certain boisterous enthusiasm endeared him to many. He greeted his friends and said goodbye with an embrace.

He spent much of his time around bars for the community they created. To him, a bar was just a pub, a public house, a communal place to gather and share experience.

The Byzantine philosopher Gemistus Pletho reportedly said, ""You can recognize gods even in their human form by their outstanding hilaritas"", a word roughly translated as cheerfulness or good humor. He smiled as if he knew something others didn't. He radiated positivity and endlessly cracked jokes to entertain those around him. Overseeing social gatherings like his bar, ensuring everyone was having a good time, even if that meant becoming the punchline of a joke. His humor was often off-color, frequently bawdy and irreverent in nature.

Routine gives life structure - there is meaning in the mundane loops. His routines provided the same comfort and stability that he provided for others. He ran the same four-mile loop in his neighborhood, and ordered the same double wrap steak burrito with veggies from Chipotle, day in, day out. He skillfully traversed a tightrope of organization and preparation, always avoiding the fall into obsession and compulsion. He lived without shame, and the only judgement he recognized was from himself. He questioned his decisions, and whether he was living up to his own expectations, yet he never let life own the best of him: he was consistently optimistic in the face of adversity.

Though life dealt him a poor hand - persistent seizures, medical bills, a bad breakup, depression and job rejections - it always seemed that he had an ace up his sleeve. His drive was relentless. He immersed himself with the Masons becoming his lodge's treasurer, found a wonderful woman who, with her two sons, equaled his capacity for compassion, and completed a Master's degree in Homeland Security.

If you asked, he would tell you he recognized a god, but his lifestyle attested to a faith in kindness. Like any good bartender, he didn't need alcohol to loosen the tongue of the people around him. He invited trust by welcoming others, respecting them, and treating them like the close friends they would inevitably become.

He never found the answer to the question 'what should I do', but was loyal and wise in his answer to, ""who should I be"". He was a man that valued the communities he was in and the relationships they were built on.

His life was not a dash of color but a paint splash of the Jackson Pollock variety. Reminiscing on the web of relationships in his life, he wrote, ""Thank you all for shaping me and molding me in one way or another. I would be nothing without you"".

Ryan is survived by his mother Kim, father Kevin, stepparents Karen and Denis, brothers Jonathan and Nicholas, stepbrother Daniel, and girlfriend Katie.

A small burial will be held at Valley Memorial Park in Novato on Friday, July 6th for close friends and family. Valley Memorial Park is open daily for public visitation. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, July 7th at 3pm in Chico at Ryan's favorite bar and workplace, Madison Bear Garden. All are welcome.

Donations can be made in Ryan's name to and the Thin Blue Line Foundation.
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record on July 3, 2018
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