DR. WILLIAM RYAN III
Dr. William (Bill) Emmett Ryan III, 86, the son of Dr. William E. and Quincy Belle (Davis) Ryan, was born March 7, 1927, in Midland, Texas, and passed away on August 12, 2013 at the Friendship Haven Health Center.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Joyce; sons, Bill IV (Denise) of Milwaukee, Wis.; and Michael (Jennifer) of Indianapolis, Ind.; daughters, Sharon (Richard) Ng of Los Angeles, Calif.; and Erin (Johnny) Walton of Florence, Miss., brother, Chuck (Zelda) of Santa Barbara, Calif., sister, A. Ryan Brown of Santa Barbara, Calif., 12 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Gregory Shane, and daughters, Sheila and Timberley. Burial will be in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery, El Paso, Texas, where son Greg is now buried.
Bill attended school in Midland, Texas, through junior high and then attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, for one year. After a year there, Bill and a cadet friend, Tim Doheny from Los Angeles, ran away from school – headed for Wyoming to start a ranch, at age l5. They hitch-hiked and rode rail cars to Wyoming, where Bill got a job as a sheepherder before landing a job at the Wyoming Hereford Ranch near Cheyenne, where he worked as a ranch hand and cowboy. After a year, he decided he eventually wanted to be a veterinarian and to do so he would have to go back to school. He gave up his ranch job and went to Leesville, Louisiana, where his family now lived. His father, a physician, had volunteered in the Army and was stationed at the Camp Polk hospital prior to being sent overseas during WW II. While practicing in Midland, Texas, Bill’s father, a member of the American College of Surgeons, was personal physician to General John J. (“Black Jack”) Pershing, who came to Midland for annual physicals and other medical treatment. Bill enjoyed listening to General Pershing’s war stories.
During the one year in Leesville, Bill and his best friend, T. B. (“Teaberry”) Porter, rode together a lot in small rodeos. In 1949 at age 22, Teaberry hauled his horse and trailer to Madison Square Garden in New York City for the National Rodeo Finals, where he won the national calf roping competition. Bill and Teaberry always remained dear friends.
Bill’s father was sent overseas for the invasion in France and was a commanding officer at the 6th Convalescent Hospital in France, the largest tent hospital in the world at the time. Lt. Colonel Ryan was killed in France and is buried in the national cemetery at St. James, France, plot N, row 4, grave 7. Bill’s mother moved the family to Arkansas, where Bill graduated from high school at John Brown Academy in Siloam Springs in 1944. His mother was the school nurse.
Bill was married to Dorothy Capehart in Oklahoma City and they had two daughters, Sharon and Sheila. They divorced. He later married Dale Ann Reed in Duncan, Oklahoma and they had two daughters, Timberley and Erin. They divorced. On April 14, 1962, Bill married Joyce Anderson (from Roland, Iowa) in Des Moines and they had three sons, Bill IV, Michael and Greg.
Bill volunteered for the U. S. Army in 1945 and received combat training at Camp Roberts in California. It was Defense policy then that a soldier would not be sent overseas if a family member had already been killed in the war. After completing combat training at Camp Roberts, Bill had several assignments including serving as a cook on a troop train carrying soldiers from Camp Roberts to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and worked in the Camp Kilmer kitchen where they daily served 10,000 soldiers who were awaiting deployment to all war fronts.
After the war he entered the School of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State) in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on the GI bill, graduating with the veterinary school’s first class in 1951. From 1951 to 1958 he practiced in Midland, Texas, and Boise City and Duncan, Oklahoma. Due to becoming allergic to penicillin and other drugs in 1958, Dr. Ryan followed another career path which led him to become the Director of Advertising and Communications at Fort Dodge Laboratories in Fort Dodge in 1961.
Dr. Ryan retired from Fort Dodge Laboratories in 1995 after 34 years. He then worked with John Dodgen at Dodgen Industries in Humboldt for the next five years in charge of selling mobile veterinary clinics nationwide.
Dr. Bill Ryan was very active in the Fort Dodge community and held memberships and leadership positions in many civic organizations. An accomplishment of which he was most proud was being a founding member of the Fort Dodge Dragoons, where he held the rank of Colonel. The Dragoons started the first Frontier Days celebration in 1974, and he led that event for thirty years. He was Chairman of the Frontier Days Central Steering Committee. As President of the Fort Historical Foundation and Fort Museum & Trading Post for many years, he was thrilled with the growth of the Fort, which he loved. He gave numerous talks to civic organizations and others on “Diamonds in your own Back Yard,” promoting Fort Dodge and the Fort.
Locally, he received the first All-American Service Award by the Alliance for Philanthropy in Fort Dodge, the Service to Mankind Award from Sertoma Sundowners Club, the Community Service Award from Fort Dodge Lions Club, Citizen of the Year Award from the Noon Lions Club, and Citizen of the Year Award from the Frontier Days Central Committee. In 1978-79, he co-chaired the YMCA building fund project with Attorney Herb Bennett, serving as Promotion Manager. They raised the needed funds for the project. He received the Iowa Community Development Leadership Award from Governor Ray.
He has served on the Friendship Haven Foundation Board, Board of Directors of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, Board of Directors for Noon Rotary Club, Rabiner Treatment Center Advisory Board, Board of Directors for Tri-County Tourism Commission, Vice-chairman of the 1990 United Way Campaign (Chairman of the Pacesetter Division), Vice President of the Executive Committee & Board of Directors of the Greater Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce, a Chamber Ambassador, Chairman of the Public Relations Committee of the Greater Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce, and member of the Tourism Committee with the Chamber of Commerce. He served as Senior High Sunday School teacher and member of the Vestry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and on the Central Committee of the Webster County Republicans.
Bill had a strong interest in the military. He was involved with the Iowa Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve for almost thirty years, serving six years as the State Chair from 1996 – 2002. He is Past President of The United States Army Association for the State of Iowa and the Des Moines Freedom Chapter of the Association of the United States Army. For his service, he received the 2000 Patrick Henry Award from the Dept. of Defense, the 2003 U. S. Dept. of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the 1986 Governor’s Volunteer Award to the State of Iowa from Governor Branstad, and the Military Service Medal from the Adjutant General of Iowa. Sons Bill IV and Michael are both graduates of the U. S. Military Academy, West Point, NY. Bill was discharged from the U. S. Army as a Major and Michael is retired as a Lt. Colonel after 20 years service. Daughter-in-law, Jennifer, is currently a Colonel with the U.S. Army Reserves.
Professionally, Dr. Ryan has received the Meritorious Service Award and the Veterinarian of the Year Award (shared with Dr. Larry Lemley of Fort Dodge) by the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association. He served as President of the American Veterinary Exhibitors’ Association and on the Public Relations Committee of the American Equine Practitioners Association. He co-founded the American Veterinary History Society.
As a long-time owner and breeder of American paint horses, Bill served on the Board of Directors with the American Paint Horse Association in Fort Worth, Texas. He co-founded the Iowa Paint Horse Association and served as its first President for three terms.
Professional memberships include the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Veterinary Medical History Society.
He is also a member of the Oklahoma State Alumni Association. He is currently a member of Harvest Baptist Church, the Fort Dodge Crimestoppers, Daybreak Rotary, Fort Dodge Historical Foundation & Museum, Fort Dodge Rifle and Pistol Club, the NRA, The American Legion, Webster County Republicans, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Single Action Shooting Society.
Throughout his life, “Doc” has been a cowboy on ranches in Texas, New Mexico, and Wyoming, a rodeo bronc rider, a rodeo clown, a sheepherder in Wyoming, a lumberjack in Oregon, and a horse farrier in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Once in veterinary school he took his Colt 45 pistol to class after one of the students had been caught cheating on a test. He laid his pistol on his desk and told the whole class that if anyone else was caught cheating, he’d shoot them in the foot.
Bill truly loved his family, friends, home, church, and country. By example, he instilled in his children the importance to love and walk with God, be hard-working, of good character, always honest, compassionate and respectful of others, forgiving, and always be a gentleman. Bill was very proud of his native Texas, his cowboy roots, and his Irish heritage. Two of his great-grandfathers from Texas fought in the Civil War for the Confederates, and two grandfathers were Texas Rangers. He also loved Fort Dodge. His motto was, “if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it all wrong”.
A service honoring Bill’s life will be held Saturday, August 17, at 1:30 p.m. at the Fort Opera House, with the Rev. Marvin Smith officiating. The visitation is from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday at the Fort Opera House. Burial will be in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, Texas. Memorials may be directed to the discretion of the family. Arrangements are under the direction of Gunderson Funeral Home & Cremation Services.