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TWINSBURG -- Several friends and one son of the late Jack Ryan, of Ryan's Barber Shop at 9797 Ravenna Road, gathered at the shop Feb. 16 to share some memories.
There were more than a few to be told following the passing of Mr. John "Jack" Ryan on Feb. 8, 2017.
Mr. Ryan's son, Bill, who now runs the barbershop, said his father and uncle Martin "Marty" Ryan moved to Twinsburg and opened the shop in 1959.
"When they first moved here, it was all corn fields and dairy farms," said Bill, the fourth of the seven children for Mr. Ryan and his wife, Marilyn. "At the time, this was the only barbershop in town."
Mr. Ryan was in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1956, serving in Korea for one year in logistics. Stateside, he ran the barbershop, then Ryan Brothers Barber Shop, until 2007. Mr. Ryan came out of retirement in 2010 to help his son pick up the reins.
In addition to being a barber, Mr. Ryan served as a volunteer fireman in Twinsburg for 27 years, from 1961 to 1988, retiring as a lieutenant.
Twinsburg Fire Capt. Jim Hartung said Mr. Ryan was "a good guy" who always knew what was going on.
"This was a good place to get your hair cut and find out what was going on in town," Hartung said. "If you didn't know what was going on, you came here."
Bill said barbers often heard a good deal of community hubbub as part of the business -- the barbershop culture was such that people often stopped in to chat even if they weren't there for a hair cut.
"You will confess your sins to a priest, but you will brag about your sins to a barber," Bill said.
"You've been around your father too long," said Stan Bindas, a firefighter and paramedic on the fire department. "Bill is just like his father."
Bindas said he started coming to the barbershop as a child.
"I started coming when I was three," Bindas said. "We called them the Butch Brothers," referring to the short, military hair cuts. "He was always really good to the kids. He kind of took me under his wing, told me what to do and what not to do, in a good way. He was always there to help people."
Bill said his father got his start in firefighting after others approached him about joining up -- and after another safety stint didn't work out.
"They asked him if he would be a constable," Bill said. "They were going to have him patrol the area with a sidearm."
The problem? Mr. Ryan disliked the thought of carrying a firearm. So he joined the volunteer firefighters.
One of the more memorable fires Mr. Ryan helped fight was the Brownberry Ovens fire in 1980, Hartung said. The Brownberry Ovens, which used to be where the Verizon store on Highland Road is now, was destroyed and the fire ruled as arson.
"It smelled like bread all over town, from the burning bread," Bill said.
The fire department had just purchased a new fire truck with a bucket, Bill said, adding that he believes that his father was the first one to use that bucket, apparently inside it as he fought the fire.
"He told us later, 'Holy crap! Now I know what a hotdog on a stick [feels like],'" Bill said. "He was right over that fire."
At the time, the fire station was next to the VFW Hall, Hartung said. So when there was a call, he "just ran out the door."
Sometimes, he left in the middle of a haircut, and his brother would take over, Bill added.
"That's why people asked for Marty," said David Murch, owner of the former Richner Hardware in Twinsburg, adjacent to the barbershop. "They knew they would get a finished haircut."
When the laughs subsided, Bill said his father actually was considered the better barber.
"My uncle Marty had great hair," Bill said, adding that Mr. Ryan always did his brother's hair. "Then there was my father, who was bald."
Dan Wagner, a firefighter and paramedic with the Twinsburg Fire Department, said that Mr. Ryan was a frequent and welcome visitor to the department through the decades.
"I didn't know him from the fire department service, but he always visited," Wagner said. "He always left you with a smile. He knew how to tell a joke. People would come over to see him when he came."
Bill said his father was dedicated to serving the community.
"He never stepped into things, but when he was asked, he never said no," Bill said.
In addition to his wife and Bill Ryan, Mr. Ryan is survived by children Joe (Denise), Jim (Suzanne), Kate (Clark Turner), Bill (Katie), Molly Ledinsky (Joe), Maureen Davis (Bradley), and Colleen Larson (Kyle); grandfather of Nick, Abby, Tim (Amanda), Sarah, Grace, Mary Turner, Neil Turner, Jack, Kevin Ledinsky, Moira Ledinsky, Ethan Davis, Elizabeth Larson, and John Larson; and great grandfather of Oran. He was predeceased by his brother Martin Ryan, as well as Sr. Rosemary Ryan, S.C., Elizabeth, and William.
Services were Feb. 13, 2017, at Ss. Cosmas and Damian Catholic Church, where Mr. Ryan was a founding member. He was interred at Crown Hill Cemetery.