Ryan, Terry 1946-2007

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Ryan, Terry 1946-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born July 14, 1946, in Defiance, OH; died of brain cancer, May 16, 2007, in San Francisco, CA. Editor, cartoonist, and author. Ryan is best remembered as the author of a biography of her mother, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised Ten Kids on Twenty-five Words or Less. Here she tells the story of how her mother, the wife of an alcoholic and abusive man, managed to keep her children safe from starvation and eviction by entering contest after contest. Many times, she wrote commercial jingles or short essays that won her not only merchandise, but also trips, cash awards, and more. She would then sell these items to make mortgage payments, pay medical bills, or buy groceries. Despite these hard circumstances, Ryan remembers her mother as a person who always found joy in her life. Ryan herself went on to graduate from Bowling Green State University. Her first job was in Chicago, where she was an editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association. She then moved to San Francisco, where she found work as a publishing house editor. Also a poet and technical writer, from 1983 to 1999 she collaborated with Sylvia Mollick on the cartoon strip T.O. Sylvester, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Ryan played with the idea of writing a biography about her mother for many years, but could not find the right narrative voice. After her mother died in 1998, she found all the contest forms, jingles, and more that her mother had kept, and this helped form the basis of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2001). The book was also adapted as a movie in 2005. In 2004, Ryan learned she had lung cancer, and it later spread to her brain. Nevertheless, she had learned from her mother to remain joyful about life and to live in the moment during her last years.



Chicago Tribune, May 19, 2007, Section 2, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2007, p. B9.

New York Times, may 18, 2007, p. C10.

Washington Post, May 19, 2007, p. B6.