Cambridge, Massachusetts


Cambridge, Massachusetts


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RYAN, Robert C. A Melville scholar who taught English for forty years, thirty of them at Boston University, while practicing tennis daily on the Hoyt Field courts in Cambridge, died peacefully at Mt. Auburn Hospital on April 15, 2015. He was eighty years old. Born in Sturgis, Michigan, Ryan...

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Prof Ryan was my Contemporary American Literature professor at BU. Anyone who knew RR knew that he was an excellent teacher, an avid tennis player, and a good man. Soon after I'd moved to New York upon graduating college, a copy of the Shipping News by Annie Proulx arrived in my mailbox. I loved the book and was so very touched that he would want to share it with me. I recently read her latest book Barkskins during a month long stay in France and I sent Robert an email to let him know. By...

Prof Ryan was my Freshman English Instructor at Defiance College in 1958.
He drilled us with the importance of communication and the difficulty of communication.
As a freshman, I did not understand that communication could be difficult.
Now, I do understand.

I met Bob over 30 years ago when I moved to Western Avenue and remained friends and neighbors since. I recently relocated out of state and have kept in touch with him and enjoyed our conversations long distance just as I did when we held our conversations in the parking lot next to his house where he was(either he was going or coming) from a tennis game at Hoyt Field. I remember when I had my first conversation with Bob I thought to myself "this guys seems really intelligent",...

Prof Ryan was my teacher at BU when I showed up last century a 32 year old freshman and the mother of 3 under 10 years old. His classes were always invigorating, challenging and illuminating. I remember the look he gave me when I admitted I didn't know what "Back beat" meant while we were discussing poetry. And he didn't agree with all my comma uses and abuses. A fine teacher, the model of a scholar, and just what I wanted and needed. I missed him as soon as I graduated. ...

Bob was my neighbor for over 20 years. I was barely 1 year old when we moved in. Our houses were right next to each other as his blocked our view of the Hoyt baseball field. Although we couldn't see the field, we could always see Bob at the tennis court. He was fit beyond belief and could get away with wearing those very short shorts :). He was such an awesome neighbor to us (incl. my mom who only moved out of the home Dec. 2014). When we would go away, Bob sometimes had a key to our...

I took Bob Ryan's graduate seminar on Melville at BU in the early 70s, and he served on my PhD orals committee. He was a great, improvisational teacher and mentor. I still recall his voice reading and making sense out of Melville's difficult poetry, Although he was in Cambridge and I in Boston, I'm sorry we didn't stay in closer touch over the years.

Bob was a neighbor while I lived at 266 Western in the mid-'70s and on into the '80s from Kinnaird St. But it was the tennis courts where I played tennis with him that were the real source of our contact. I always looked forward to his presence and the opportunity to chat with him while waiting on the benches. He was straight forward yet challenging in his views. The challenge was the best part. Mark Orton

Condolences. I remember the sunlight on his face on a quiet afternoon.

I will always have fond memories of my talks with Robert and Harry Hayford at Robert's home in Cambridge about Melville's life and manuscripts. I only wish I could have met up again sometime with Robert after those talks so many years ago. - Robert Sandberg