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Derm Ryan

Image by Nick Andréka


February 11, 1938 – February 14, 2024

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dermot Joseph Ryan on Feb 14, 2024 at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg at the age of 86. 

Derm is survived by his wife, « the love of his life » Stella (Whyte), his children Barry, Sharon and Scott and grandchildren Ashya, Jacob, and Bojena. He is predeceased by his siblings Mary, Denis, Paul, Margaret, Agatha, Martin, Bernadette, Rosemary, and Leonard. 

Derm was born in the small coastal fishing village of Little Paradise in Newfoundland to Martin Ryan and Edith (Bavis). Generations of the Ryan's were born and lived in Little Paradise in a time when fishing was done from the family sailing schooner, named the Conrad. The fishing was all done by hand with hand lines, lobster pots and nets.

My mother lived in a neighboring fishing village called the Southeast Bight. These remote communities did not have any source of power, there was no refrigeration, television, stores to buy things, or vehicles of any kind. Entertainment was generally visiting your neighbors, playing cards, singing songs or listening to the radio. With limited opportunities to socialize in such a remote area, people from the Bight were excited when the rare chance came to make the one hour and 15 minute trek across land to visit Little Paradise when a dance, or a spree as they called them, was held. My mother got to know of my father from those dances and his occasional visits to the Bight. It was during these brief encounters that a young Stella White developed a crush on the handsome Dermot Ryan.

Some years later when they were both living in the city of St. John's at the age of around 19 my dad finally asked my mom out on a date. It's a wonderful story to hear her tell how one evening after church had finished she was sitting outside on a bench when he finally approached her and asked her out. They shared their first kiss and her feet didn't touch the ground as she made her way home that evening. In those early days of dating they would occasionally return home from St. John's to their respective fishing towns and dad would make that one hour and 15 minute trek from Little Paradise to visit mom in the Bight.

Eventually married and settled in St. John's, that is where I was born, as was my sister Sharon and my brother Scott. Dad was working for Imperial Tobacco, a well-known cigarette and tobacco producing company, Unfortunately the office in St. John's was closing and he was offered a management position that would require him to relocate our family to either Toronto or Winnipeg. He chose Winnipeg as he never had any love for Toronto. That likely came from his dislike of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 Settled in Winnipeg, and over the years, our family developed many good and lasting friendships. Some of those friends, I know, are here today. Growing up together as a family we shared many wonderful vacations and activities together. Summer vacations were a regularity that often included renting cabins at Clear Lake or in the White Shell. There were other joint family trips and adventures we shared with various family friends. Some of those included camping trips and a cross Canada excursion to Alberta with the Blains. Dad looked forward to fishing trips to the Lake of the Woods with the Klapaks and our goose hunts with the Kohuts.

Dad enjoyed a variety of activities and especially enjoyed sharing them with his family and good friends. He loved his Winnipeg Jets and the Blue Bombers. He loved his golfing outings, fishing, our bird hunts, back yard barbecues, playing bridge or canasta with his and mom's card group, and doing his morning cross word puzzles. He was also very involved with his kids in our sporting interests as we grew up. Dad spent a few years coaching Scott, Sharon or myself in either hockey, baseball or softball.

Always known as the huggy one, dad loved his hugs, especially when he got to give them to his grandkids. My daughter, Ashya, was his first, so of course she was spoiled. I live in Victoria BC and experienced a personal tragedy when Ashya was just an infant. Dad and mom were always there for their kids and they flew out and spent a lot of time with me when I needed them. During Ashya's early years growing up, when she was old enough to fly on her own, I would put her on a plane and she would fly to Winnipeg and spend a good part of those summers with Nana and Papa while I continued my studies in Victoria. She was taken on many of the same types of summer vacations and treated to all kinds of the same fun activities that I had experienced as a kid growing up. Ashya loved visiting her grandparents in Winnipeg.

Sharon's kids, Jacob and Bojena, came next and were treated to no less the same kind of love and affection from dad and mom. Dad was excited to spend any chance he could with them and cherished the opportunities to be part of their lives and to torture them with his bad jokes.

In the year 2011, our collective families made a joint family trip to Newfoundland. This was not only a reunion trip for mom and dad to see their families back home but also the chance for all their grandkids to see where their parents and their grandparents were born. During that trip Sharon and her husband Don, Jacob, Bojena, Ashya and I, together with dad made our way to Little Paradise. We spent a night there at a family friends' home and the following day we walked that same one hour and 15 minute trek across land to the Southeast Bight, following the same path dad walked all those decades ago when he went to visit mom. I always thought that was pretty cool and one of my favorite memories from that trip.

Dad was an active member of the church. He loved to sing and give praise to the Lord. For years he was a member of the choir and enjoyed his time when he could help out in anyway with bingo or other church activities. He and mom have made many good friends through the church.

This past year became increasingly tough for him as the disease took away control of his mind. It changed him and his fight with his memory caused him to withdraw more and more from engaging with people because it was too hard to follow or maintain a conversation. He was happy to just stay at mom's side and look after her.

I always took for granted how caring and connected my parents were. How much they loved each other and the affection they shared for each other. That was the example they set for me and I assumed that that was how it was for every family. Over the years I realized how fortunate I actually have been to have both of my parents living well into their 80s and still very much in love. Above all else dad loved mom more than anything in the world. He was always joined at her hip every night and would do anything for her. I am very proud of my parents. Every friend or girlfriend that I ever introduced to them has always been very complementary and impressed by them. Some were even a little jealous that I could have such great parents.

I would like to take a quick moment to acknowledge and give thanks to dad and mom's friends who were there to help them during this past year and especially the recent months. He loved you all. I would like to give a special thanks to Jackie and Nelson for their help and my sister, Sharon. It's challenging for both her and I to live so far away and try to offer help. She always loved singing with dad and it was both heartwarming and heartbreaking to watch her singing with him while he lie in his hospital bed.

Dad passed away this February 14, four days after his 86th birthday. He had a long and happy life. He was an intelligent, loving, attentive and fun father, grandfather, friend and husband. Those who have known him I'm sure have their own fond memories and those of us closest to him are better people to have had him in our lives. We will forever love and miss him, even his terrible jokes.

He is happy and at peace in heaven now. God bless. Love you dad. 

Derm's family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St. Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

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