James J. Ryan

December 23, 1934 to April 4, 2024


To view the service for James Ryan on April 14, 2024 at 2:00 p.m.,

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With heavy hearts we announce the peaceful passing of James (Jim) J. Ryan on April 4th, 2024, at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s, surrounded by his caring family. He leaves to mourn with fond and loving memories his devoted wife of 64 years, Shirley and his five children, Karen, Jim, Gail, Lynette (Gian Paulo) and Ken (Sabrina), twelve beautiful grandchildren, Emma, Michael, Maggie, Madeleine, Thomas, Sophie, Elizabeth, Rachel, Ronan, Ciara, Patrick and Nicholas, brothers Gerald, William (Ruby) and David (Nettie), sisters, Joan (Clair) and Marilyn, as well as a large circle of nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends. A devoted husband, father and grandfather, Grampy will be dearly missed and forever in our hearts.

Jim was predeceased by his parents, Marguerite and Jerome Ryan and brother Ronald.

Born in St. John’s on December 23, 1934, he was the second oldest child in a family of seven children. He grew up in the West end of St. John’s, attended school at Holy Cross School and later St. Bonaventure’s College. A fascination with space exploration during the years of the “space race” inspired Jim to eventually study technology. Always an excellent student, he was accepted into The Ryerson Institute of Technology in Toronto and completed his education in Electronic Technology, graduating in 1961.

It was during the lead up to college that Jim was introduced to the kind and beautiful love of his life, Shirley and the two would soon marry and start a family together. They moved around in their early years initially living in Ontario while Jim went to college and it’s there, they had their first two children, Karen and Jim. The lure of the Rock and longing for family eventually brought them back home to Newfoundland, first to Grand Falls then to St. John’s where they had three more children, Gail, Lynette and Ken to complete their family. It was here they settled into their forever home in the east end of town.

Embarking on a career that took him across Canada and as far away as England, Jim took on many interesting challenges. He was a pioneer in the early days of computing, working on main frame computers with IBM. His early days as a linesman brought him out on the Gaff Topsails, the American Naval Station in Argentia and other places around Newfoundland.

Fresh out of college, Jim was offered a job by the Burroughs Corporation and worked on the vital Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line), a series of radar stations strategically positioned across the arctic, from Alaska through Canada over Greenland to Iceland. For several years, Jim worked on this project in places across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, including northern parts of Quebec, while Shirley remained steadfast in Toronto taking care of the family.

It was securing the job with IBM that brought Jim and the family back home to Newfoundland. After a short time in Grand Falls, the family moved into St. John’s where Jim started teaching computing with the College of Fisheries, now The Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland where he would remain for the balance of his career.

When not hard at work, Jim was an ardent outdoorsman who loved to hike, fish and hunt for rabbits with his beloved dogs – always making time for a good mug up along the way and, when in season, stopping to pick berries for Shirley’s famous blueberry buckle.

During his retirement, he was an avid sports fan who particularly enjoyed watching hockey, baseball and soccer in addition to his other interests. Always active in his younger years, Jim loved getting out on the green to play a round of golf and he regularly played on a softball team as well as enjoyed a good game of hockey with friends. Throughout his life, he walked almost daily racking up countless miles in the process.

Of the many lessons over the years, Jim taught us the importance and necessity for pride in hard work, education and attention to detail and was respected by his community and peers. This is in full display in the Ryan family home he carefully and thoughtfully built for his family and lived in to the end of his days as well as his dedication to his students and teaching. Generous with his time and energy, if you asked Jim for help, he would always say yes – only requesting a good cup of tea as recompense. A true handyman, he could fix anything mechanical or electrical and was always meticulous in his workmanship. Articulate, intelligent and curious he never lost his appetite for learning nor his desire to share his knowledge or opinions – he could speak to anyone on any subject at any time (whether you wanted to hear it or not is another matter entirely ;-).

Jim will be warmly remembered as a wonderful husband, father and proud grandfather who was never happier than when he was surrounded by his extended loving family especially his precious grandchildren. Always the entertainer, he loved to spin a good yarn and was never at a loss for words. His adoring grandchildren were the happy recipients of many a tall tale especially if it involved mischievous leprechauns. We are fortunate to have had Grampy with us for so many celebrations and special occasions over the years and we will cherish every memory together.

Cremation has taken place. Visitation will be held on Saturday, April 13th, 2024 at Carnell’s Funeral home, 329 Freshwater Road, St. John’s from 2:00 – 4:00 pm and 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Funeral service will be held the following day, Sunday, in the Carnell’s Chapel at 2:00 pm with a reception to follow. The service will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend. The link to view is listed above.

In honour of Jim’s memory, we kindly request that in lieu of flowers, and if you so choose, that a donation can be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or a charity of your choice.

Thank you to all whose kind efforts made Jim’s final days easier, including the Nursing staff at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital and especially to Nurse Practitioner and angel on earth, Donna, whose comfort, caring and compassion in Dad’s final moments mean more than we can ever express in words.






2-4 p.m. on April 13, 2024

7-9 p.m. on April 13, 2024

Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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2:00pm, Sunday April 14th

Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
View on Map


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The last visit my mother, Minnie and I took to Newfoundland, I had the good fortune of speaking and reminiscing with my Uncle Jim of his time with our family when he and Aunt Shirley spent time with my parents while he completed his studies at Ryerson. His great intellect was matched by the depth of his kindness and empathetic understanding of my mother’s condition. He expressed his gratitude of the kindness shown to his family all those years ago. I will forever remember my Uncle Jim for his exemplary character and genuine caring nature. He will be so missed by all he touched during his lifetime. My deep condolences to my dear Aunt Shirley, my dear cousins and his many grandchildren, who I am sure, will carry on his legacy.

Our condolences to you and your family Lynette

So sorry for your loss our prayers and thoughts are with you.

With sadness we offer our heart felt condolences for the passing of Uncle Jim. Since I did not live in the same city I did not see him often but I will always remember how pleasant he was to talk with. He always showed and interest in what was happening at the time and was eager to share his point of view. I enjoyed the times when visiting family in St. Johns and also when Jim and the family would visit us at our cottage in Constance Bay. It’s wonderful to remember the good times we had with Uncle Jim.

With a heavy heart of your loss of Jim I would like to send you my condolences and prayers for your family. I was the lucky one to get to meet Jim and listen to his life stories and triumphs of life. He spoke so proud of his family and Shirley his true love. I felt so rich after meeting Jim and caring for him. He stole a piece of my heart and I will never forget that gentle voice and kindness he shared towards me.
Sadly missed but Jim will never be forgotten as long as I live. I speak of him often to my family so proud I had the chance to meat such a wonderful human being.
Jim Ryan I love you. God bless.

Dear Shirley and Ryan family,

From day one Jim was very welcoming to me, the mainlander, in every sense. Opening his home and always offering a well experienced hand for those DIY projects in our first home. I still have a number of his various “care packages” of electrical and plumbing odds and sods. Whenever I come across them, I will always smile as from time to time I will need something from Jim’s cache. His perseverance and attention to detail was really inspiring, even after hours of hard toil, his only request was for a cup of tea and one of the home-made muffins of mine that he always raved about.
Whenever our parents got together, he also endeared himself to them with his love of Italian opera and of course my mother’s food. We were a good match – the talker and the listener (I will let you guess who was who) – I learned much of Newfoundland culture and geography from him and will cherish that.
He was also a great Grampy for our kids – always entertaining and educating them. They will miss him.

Deep condolences from all of the Spangaro family.

Dear Ryan family,

Jim has always been pleasant and caring with me. I loved exchanging stories on so many diverse subjects, ranging from politics to military history. He was a wealth of knowledge, and I learned quite a lot from him. One of my best moments with him was visiting the Deifenbunker – we talked endlessly!
RIP Mr. Ryan.

To Nanny. I am proud to say I have had many a great conversation with Grampy when he came to visit Jim’s kids when I worked there, and Gail’s girls when I’ve been there. His stories were the best. My greatest memory is when I came to Newfoundland a few years ago and Grampy took me for lunch and the kids called saying when are you bringing Grampy back. He loved to have a good conversation and heaven has the best man for the job of keeping people engaged in conversation. Rest In Heaven Grampy. It was my privilege to know you for so many years.

Dear Ryan family,

I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Mr Jim Ryan. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him, I know that he must have been an incredible person to have raised someone as wonderful as Lynette. Please accept my heartfelt condolences during this difficult time. May his memory be a source of comfort and strength for the family.

My heart goes out to all of you . I have fond memories of Uncle Jim from all many family gatherings . He always had a smile for me and a story to tell . Lots of love strength and prayers sent from Gene and I . He will always be with you for a piece of him lives forever in your hearts . Love Janet and Gene and the Cason family

We are sorry your loss and send our love from Oakville.
The Cohen Family

Sincere condolences to all the Ryan family. As a fellow faculty member in years gone by, Jim and I had many conversations and after he retired we would meet walking around Quidi Vidi lake. He was a trusted friend and always talked about his family. May his family hold on to past memories for comfort..

Mr. Ryan was our computer programming instructor at the Fisheries College in the late 1970’s. He was a brilliant instructor and knew computers inside and out. That was at time when mini-computers were the size of a refrigerator and complicated to program. Mr. Ryan demonstrated his patience and inspired so many of us. Whenever I meet an old classmate from the College of Fisheries and we start reminiscing, Mr. Ryan’s name is always at the top of the list. As young adults we didn’t realize the depth of his life experiences but we are all the better for having known him. Condolences to his family and colleagues.

Ron used to reminisce about his times with Jim, and they were always happy times. So sorry for your loss..
I like to think that they are both together now enjoying each other’s company

Gail, my condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father.. I wish you all peace and strength during this difficult time.

Gail I want to extend my condolences to you and your family on your father’s passing. May he rest in peace.

Shirley and family,so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing.All of you have come up in our memories over the years,and we had lots of them..Love you all…….Dianne Moriarty&Reg

I was a student of Jim’s at the Fisheries College back in the 70’s. I have fond memories of him and thoroughly
enjoyed my classes with him. I am very sorry to hear of his passing and wish the family my heartfelt condolences.

Condolences Shirley and family. Thinking of all the memories when you and Jim lived in Toronto. It was a good time.
I don’t know if you heard but my brother Ron died a few weeks ago.
Love Jose

Aunt Shirley may your lifetime of memories and love bring peace to you and all the family during this difficult time. I have many fond memories of Uncle Jim during family holiday gatherings over the years. He will certainly be dearly missed.. Much love and prayers to everyone,
Joy and Kevin MacDonald

Aunt Shirley and family, Bob and I were so very sorry to hear of Uncle Jim’s passing.. It’s so very true how he could talk to anyone about anything.. May fond memories of your time together carry you through this difficult time.. Wishing you all much love and strength, Bev and Bob Wight.

To Kenny and family. So sorry to hear about Jim. I will always remember him driving us around in that massive gold car when we were kids. A very kind man. Regards, C Fox

Condolences to all family-(especially, his brothers whom i have met over the years)and other friends of MR JJ RYAN)-our thoughts and prayers -,God bless-Jim/wife Nelia Campbell ST. john’s NFLD.