Many Fort Dodgers take pride in the history of their hometown. Bill Ryan, who died Monday, did more than that. He worked hard to acquaint present and future generations with our community's early days so they could understand the hardships and sacrifices that were necessary to build our modern city.
Ryan helped establish the Fort Museum and Frontier Village. He also was a driving force in the creation of the Frontier Days. Each year that festival celebrates not only an earlier era in Fort Dodge, but also is an occasion for much contemporary fun. Additionally, Ryan was a founder of the Fort Dodge Dragoons. That group, modeled after a 19th-century cavalry unit, was established in 1974.
Ryan was not only a student of history. He was also an active participant in the life of the communities where he lived. After service in the U.S. Army in 1945 and 1946, Ryan earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree and practiced veterinary medicine in Oklahoma for a decade. Subsequently, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Des Moines and later moved to Fort Dodge to become sales and promotion manager for the Fort Dodge Laboratories.
Ryan had a love of the lifestyle of western Texas, the area where he spent his childhood. He was a strong believer in what he said was the cowboy's guiding principle: "Heaven's right here on earth, but the only way you get there is on the arms of the people you help."
Ryan lived that philosophy.
Our town was made a better and more interesting place by Ryan's many contributions to the community. The Messenger joins with the many Fort Dodgers and others who are saddened by Ryan's passing in paying final tribute to this outstanding citizen. He will be missed.