Joseph Verdery Ryan, Jr., a lifelong resident of Savannah, GA, died peacefully on May 31, 2020 surrounded by family and friends at his home after a long illness. He was 79 years old.
Mr. Ryan was born on September 28, 1940 in Savannah, GA. He was the eldest of 8 children born to Captain Joseph V. Ryan, Sr. and Kathleen Coburn Ryan. Joe attended Savannah public schools and graduated from the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism. After graduation, he worked for both the Savannah Morning News and the Savannah Evening Press. Joe fondly remembered a bustling newsroom with typewriters, competing news staffs, and deadlines “where the editors would pull the sheets of paper out of your typewriter if we were on deadline and they needed the copy.” His career with the newspaper spanned 4 decades and included work as a reporter and editor.
Throughout his life, Joe was a keen observer of the world around him as a journalist and as a lifelong collector of antiques and artwork. His colleague Jane Fishman described him in a 2012 profile as an “art collector, newspaper editor and native Savannahian, who spans decades of Savannah history and uses the art on his walls to spin his stories.” He appreciated the unique value of art in all forms and the majority of his collection reflected a special affinity to the Lowcountry in both traditional and contemporary styles. Joe took particular pride in discovering emerging artists long before others saw the magic in their work. He also enjoyed music and was an accomplished pianist.
Survivors include 4 siblings, William James Ryan, II (Maria) of Dallas, GA; Mary Verdery Ryan Chandler of Tybee Island, GA; Ellen Pinckney Ryan Cliett (William) of Savannah, GA; and Eugene Coburn Ryan of Savannah, GA. Three siblings predeceased him: Frank Coburn Ryan (Joann); James Lynch Ryan; and Kathleen Coburn Ryan. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews. During life, Joe was blessed with wonderful, decades-long friendships that brought him great joy. His family is especially grateful for the kindness and outstanding caregiving of his sister, Ellen; his brother-in-law, Bill; Ms. Drusilla Russell; and Mr. Wayne Holmes. Together, they made Joe’s last years immeasurably more comfortable and filled with love.
Graveside Service will be 2:30 p.m., Thursday, June 4, 2020 at the Greenwich section of Bonaventure Cemetery. Social distancing will be in place.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Telfair Museum of Arts and Sciences.
We are saddened by the news of Joe's passing and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family. Telfair staff shared with Joe the love and appreciation of art and budding artists. He will always hold a special place in our thoughts and hearts.
- Catherine Renner, Savannah, GA