Mimi Ryan remembered for service, love of family, village
Mary S. "Mimi" Ryan
Services were held Jan. 5 at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Wilmette, with interment in All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines. Memorials may be made to the MDS Foundation, 4573 South Broad St., Suite 150, Yardville, NJ 08620.
Updated: January 14, 2013 8:14PM
WILMETTE — Former Wilmette Village Trustee Mary A. “Mimi” Ryan, whose passion for service included advocacy against handguns and for affordable housing, was remembered for the love and support she gave everyone, from family to political friends.
Ryan died Jan. 1 following a battle with myelodysplastic syndrome. She was 77.
“She was a person who made time for everyone, and who saw the good side of everybody,” her husband John Ryan said Jan. 10. “She was a loving and wonderful wife, loyal to her church, her community, her village.”
Ryan served as a village trustee from 1983-1991, after serving previously on the Wilmette Park District Board.
While serving on the Village Board, she proposed Wilmette’s ban on handgun sales and possession, in part as a reaction to the 1988 Laurie Dann shootings. Dann fatally shot one child and wounded several others at a Winnetka school. When it passed, Ryan said, “To prevent one accidental death or save one life in Wilmette makes this ordinance worth passing.”
Wilmette repeated the handgun ordinance in 2008, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down similar bans.
Ryan also lobbied for the inclusion of group homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled in all Wilmette zoning districts.
Former Wilmette Village President Nancy Canafax remembered her friend and Village Board colleague as someone whose interest was “the public good … She did not serve her own interests at all.”
Canafax said Ryan brought her into village politics by making Canafax her campaign manager. They became good friends.
After leaving the board, Ryan worked to get affordable living units included in the Mallinkrodt Place residential development. She most recently opposed plans by the park district to extend fencing at Gillson Park beach.
Ryan was born in Chicago. Her family moved to River Forest where she spent much of her youth except for a brief period on the East Coast. She graduated from Trinity High School in 1953 and attended St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame before graduating from Rosary College, now Dominican University.
She and her husband met while she was teaching English at Elmwood Park High School. They were married in 1959 and moved to Wilmette in 1961, where they joined the St. Francis Xavier parish.
Daughter Mary T. Karges, of Seattle, Wash., said her mother exposed her sons and daughters to the importance of community and parish, and threw herself into supporting their interests: “My sister and I were involved with theater, and she got involved. One of my brothers played basketball, and she was at every game. My other brother was involved in scouting, and she was a den mother.”
In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Ryan is survived by her other daughter Catherin M. Quillinin of Portland, Ore.; sons Michael, of Northbrook and William of Oberlin, Kan.; one brother, William A. Scanlon of Aurora; and 11 grandchildren.