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Katherine Ryan


1919 - 2019
Katherine Ryan Obituary
Katherine Anne Ryan

Dec. 30, 1919 - June 29, 2019

Katherine (Kate) Ryan, resident of San Mateo, CA, passed away peacefully on June 29, 2019 surrounded by members of her large and loving family. She was 99 years old.

Born in the Boston, MA area, Kate left Boston for good at the age of 26, but she never lost her traditional New England values nor her Boston accent. After graduating from Weymouth High School, Kate attended Fey School of Boston, where she trained to become an Executive Secretary. She then worked as the secretary to the President of the New England Telephone Company before joining the American Red Cross.

In September of 1945, at the age of 26, Kate traveled to Yokohama, Japan as part of a group of Red Cross Volunteer Social Workers. She recalled this time in her life as exhilarating and adventurous. Among her many memorable assignments as a social worker, Kate recalled making coffee in 55-gallon drums for American servicemen.

While living in Yokohama, Kate was hired by the U.S. Counsel General, U. Alexis Johnson, to be his personal secretary working on administrative issues involving American servicemen and civilians after WWII. Kate loved this work and remained lifelong friends with U. Alexis Johnson, who would later become U.S. Ambassador to Japan and serve as a principal advisor to John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1946, Kate met and married William "Bill" Ryan in Yokohama, Japan. Together they raised 13 children and travelled to and from Japan, Boston, and San Mateo until Bill's passing in 1999.

In 1958 Kate and Bill moved back to Yokohama, Japan and lived the their for the next 14 years. As well as raising her large family, Kate taught secretarial skills at the local girls' convent school. During the Vietnam War, Kate volunteered, once again, as a social worker helping with wounded U.S. servicemen at a military hospital in Japan.

In 1974, Bill and Kate started their family business, Atlas Asia-Pacific/TOP 1 Oil Products Company. Over the years, nearly all their 13 children worked at one time or another for the family business. Kate travelled often throughout Asia, meeting with and enjoying the many relationships that she and Bill developed over the course of more than 50 years. Kate continued to work at TOP 1 until she passed away.

Guided by her deep Catholic faith, Kate was a devoted mother who raised and oversaw a lively household. As a mother, grandmother, sister, or friend, she was exceedingly thoughtful, generous, and kind.

Kate was preceded in death by William (her husband of 53 years), her son William Ryan, Jr. and her son-in-law Aldo Palmisano.

She is survived by her 12 children and their spouses – Timothy (Patricia) , Mary Katherine (Ed Semansky), Martha (Dan McDonald), Eleanor, Jane (Phil Truncer), Bridget (Dave Parker), Eileen (John DeRocco), Joseph (Susan), Therese, John, (Wylie Mertz), Matthew (Lorraine), and Frank (Linda).

She is also survived by 19 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to the Homeless Prenatal Program (2500 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 www.homelessprenatal.org)

A funeral mass will be held on July 12, 2019 at 1:00 PM at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1310 Bayswater Ave, Burlingame, CA 94010


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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on July 7, 2019
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