Thomas J. (Tommy) Ryan
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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.

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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sep. 29, 2009.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by His eldest daughter
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8 entries
December 26, 2016
It is approaching 2017, and I have been reminiscing about enjoyable business experiences and the individuals who enriched them Tommy Ryan is such an individual.

I am sorry that I was unaware until now of Tommy's passing, but I have been overseas for a number of the intervening years, and ISU was not top of mind. But, ISU is where I met Tommy Ryan in 1979. Merrill Lynch tasked me to move from New York to work in San Francisco with some of the brightest minds of the insurance industry the objective was to establish an insurance brokerage joint venture. I met Tommy and found the brightest mind of the lot.

But more than his intelligence, one was struck immediately with Tommy's wit, personality, demeanor, attire, and outgoing nature. Tommy was a leader who brought together a group of individuals who shared his willingness to try something new, a group of entrepreneurs who wanted build something of value, but (as importantly) who wanted to enjoy themselves in doing so. People came to ISU for many reasons; they stayed because of Tommy's leadership and personality.

I recall some of the best experiences in my career were working with Tommy at ISU. It was way too short after the company was established, I came back to NYC. But every time I come to San Francisco, my first and best memories are of ISU and Tommy Ryan.
William Gibson
October 26, 2009
I had the pleasure of working for Mr. Ryan at Fred S. James in San Francisco. I remember his great sense of humor and he was very charming. My sincere condolences to the family.
Charlotte Creswell Brown
October 25, 2009
My sincere condolences on your loss. I'm sorry I never knew him, he sounds like a truly delightful gentleman. Mr. Ryan would have been first cousin to my late father (William J. Klein).
Dr. Thomas J. Ryan was the brother of my dad's mother Nora, and was her attending physician at the time of her unfortunate early passing in 1940. I would be really delighted to establish contact with anyone from this side of my family.
Bill Klein
October 2, 2009
As a former employee of ISU/SF, I will always remember Tommy's charm, wit, and intelligence, his dapper looks and ready smile. No one is really gone as long as someone is left to remember them, so Tommy will be with us for a long, long time to come! My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Mrs. Ryan, Grace, TJ & the rest of the family. I know you will miss him terribly. I promise to keep his memory alive with a kind thought, a good dead for someone in need, and raise my glass in toast to a great man!
Joy Ide-Cresci
October 1, 2009
Dear Rita, TJ and the rest of the family. I am writing from Shanghai where I just found out about my friend going off to heaven.
We had so many laughs and joys in our long association. In the early days of ISU if I was discouraged Tommy was always "up" and injected his Irish twinkle and optimism that never left him. For years we met for a Christmas luncheon to catch up, gossip,tell tall stories and just be friends. I am sad with you but I know he is already talking to his maker about a new project!
Russell Miller
October 1, 2009
We lost a great Bohemian and Burlingame member. So sorry to hear this. Best wishes to all.
Tyler V. Grady
September 29, 2009
T.J. When you told me of your father's passing, I sensed a great love and respect that you both shared with one another. What a great legacy.
My prayer is that his love will continue to be passed down, through you, to all the family.
John Kelly
September 29, 2009
Dear Tommy I miss you so much. My life is better for having known you. I used to ask you to pray for me because I thought your connections were better upstars than mine. So they are better even now, and I will continue to touch base.
Maria Poroy
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