Thomas J. (Tommy) Ryan November 3, 1924 - September 23, 2009 Resident of Hillsborough , CA Passed away peacefully in the comfort of his home and surrounded by his loving family. His death was a result of melanoma of the brain. And with his passing "The Light Has Gone Out"...the light that shone so brightly when he was born to Dr. Thomas J. and Grace Ryan of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...the light that guided him in his formative years at St. Joseph's Prep School and Haverford College from which he graduated and later served as trustee, in Pennsylvania ...the light that caught the eye of his wife-to-be, Rita...the light that beamed with pride at the birth of each of their five children...the light that led him through a distinguished career of innovation and leadership in the insurance industry. Attracted first to the industry early on by the Insurance Co. of North America then soon thereafter to an opportunity on the brokerage side of the business at Creth Sullivan/Fred S. James & Co. in Philadelphia. This became a stepping stone for a life-long dedication to the independent insurance agency segment of the business. In 1963, the bright light of opportunity at Fred S. James & Co. brought him to San Francisco where he truly "left his heart". Always an agent and broker at heart through sales and management, merger and acquisitions specialist, insurance association board member, recipient of the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters designation, Underwriting Member at Lloyds, builder and CEO and President of an internationally recognized NYSE listed insurance brokerage firm which, with his efforts, grew from a revenue of two million to one of almost four hundred million. His creative thinking and imagination led to an innovative insurance program which was crucial to the construction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System in the Sixties. Of greatest pride was his founding and leadership of The ISU Group of Companies, a unique concept that enables insurance agents to remain independent while enjoying benefits available only to national brokers. It became a leading aggregator of independent insurance agencies in the United States. An inspiring speaker and leader, Tommy also held Board of Directors' positions on five NYSE and NASDAQ listed companies in fields that ranged from transportation, commodities, staffing and franchising. He succeeded in every aspect of life...a man who embodied the true essence of family...a man of his word...a loyal and good friend to so many...a generous man who always had time for family, friends and business associates. He shared so many good times - always ready with a bit of humor when the occasion presented itself. His wisdom, knowledge and business acumen have been acknowledged by grateful associates, friends and family. He was truly an inspiration to all of us who had the opportunity to learn from him. Let us remember his infectious smile, his charming personality and always dapper style, his extensive vocabulary and quick wit, and his gentlemanly demeanor that brightened our lives. He had an insatiable curiosity to learn. His genuine interest in people, his travels with family and friends, and his business interests brought him pleasure in life. He wanted to experience all that life could offer him before the light began to fade. With such a rich life filled with memories, he was at peace with the world when he learned the light would be fading all too quickly. He was an active member of Burlingame Country Club, Bohemian Club, The Pacific-Union Club and the Villa Taverna. He served and supported Haverford College as an active campaigner and Trustee for many years. He is survived by his wife, Rita, children Lila (Mike) Burgess, Barbara Ryan, Grace Ryan, T. J. (Melanie) Ryan, III, Diane (Peter) Adams, grandchildren Meagan (Marty) Fox, T. J. Ryan IV, Davis Ryan, Hadley Ryan, Charlie Adams and Jack Adams. Services will be private. In lieu of flowers or donations, an act of kindness to someone in need would be what Tommy would have wanted.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sep. 29, 2009.