Salem — Dr. James Thomas Ryan, patriarch of one of Salem’s largest and most well-known families, died Thursday, June 5, at Sunrise at Gardner Park assisted-living facility in Peabody. He was the husband of Ann Julie (Butler), to whom he was married for 59-and-a-half years.
Born in Lynn on Sept. 27, 1930, he was the son of Dr. James P. Ryan and Anna E. (Sands) Ryan. His father was the longtime team doctor for the Salem High football team.
“Doc” Ryan, as he was affectionately known by friends and family, was a lifelong resident of Salem. He attended St. James Grammar School and was a 1948 graduate of Salem High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. He attended the College of the Holy Cross and graduated in 1952. He worked as a park instructor at Gallows Hill, which is where he met his future wife.
After graduating from Holy Cross, Doc served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1952-56 and was stationed on the USS Salem heavy cruiser.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Doc enrolled at Tufts University Dental School, graduating in 1960. He operated his own dental practice in Salem from 1960-2010 and served as the City of Salem dentist for 40 years, visiting a different school every Monday to examine students.
Doc took great pride in being a member of the American Legion for almost 50 years and served as commander of Post 23 in Salem. He ran the Post 23 baseball team for 40 years, coaching hundreds of players who went on to successful collegiate and professional careers. Some of his former players included: John Tudor, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, Dr. David St. Pierre, Dave Bettencourt, Jeff Juden, Michael Giardi and Brian Buckley.
Doc Ryan served on the Salem School Committee from 1978-82 and the Parks and Recreation Commission from 1984-99. He was a candidate for mayor in 1999.