WILLIAM (BILL) “OPA” RYAN
William “Opa” Ryan was born at St. James, Manitoba on April 4, 1924, the youngest of three children to Patrick Ryan (1877-1950) and Frederikke (Fredrickson) (1882-1967).
He was predeceased by his parents and his brother Eddie.
Bill’s youngest years were spent on his parents homestead in northern Saskatchewan in a crude log shack with a dirt roof and a dirt floor, where he learned to farm the land with a plow and oxen. Prior to WW2, Bill earned a living cutting cordwood, trapping and hunting. In early 1942, he decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and enlist in the army. Since he was not yet eighteen, he “changed” his birth date to January 1924 so he wouldn’t have to wait. He headed off to Petawawa, Ontario and then England for his training. He served Canada with Honour in World War II as a motorcycle dispatch rider and later, on the gun crew with the 3rd Medium Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery. His Active Service took place in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany. After the war, he was transferred to the Canadian Army Occupation force in Germany before being repatriated in the spring of 1946 with the Voluntary Service Medal, Defense Medal, France and Germany Star, 1939-1945 Star and the George VI Medal. Upon his return to Canada, he took up the life of a farmer in northern Saskatchewan. He supplemented his farm income by working for the Department of Natural Resources, as well as cutting wood and trapping.
He married Hildegard in 1962 after she joined him in Canada. Bruce and Harold were born in 1964 and 1966. Bill retired from the DNR in 1984 and continued to farm his land near Meath Park, Saskatchewan until retiring to Courtenay, British Columbia in 2000 to take up his role as “Opa” and “whirl-i-gig crafter extraordinaire”. He could often be seen at local craft fairs and flea markets selling his colourful hand-made garden ornaments.
Bill is survived by his supportive wife Hildegard, sons Bruce (Tara) and Harold (Sandra), his grand-daughters whom he adored (Jordyn and Janaya), and his sister Katie Alaric (Kamloops).
“Opa” took his last breath at 2:20 a.m. on March 8, 2013 with Hildegard watching over him. He often spoke of his appreciation for the thoughtful care given to him by his medical team, particularly Dr. Swanson, who was always able to make time to meet with Bill and provide his gentle care. We are grateful to the care provided by Nurse Sandra and the home care aides which allowed Bill to spend his final days at home with his family. Thank you to the Rushtons and staff at Comox Pharmasave for your personal care and visits. We are appreciative of the prayers of Courtenay Baptist and the thoughtful visits of Pastor Peter who helped Bill prepare to meet His Lord.
A service to Celebrate Bill’s Life will be held at Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church (2963 Lake Trail Road, Courtenay) on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm. Interment to follow at 2:15 pm at the Courtenay Civic Cemetery (4768 Old Island Highway, Courtenay). Friends are welcome to join the family for a tea at the family home after the interment. Memorial contributions can be made to the Courtenay Legion.