Ryan to talk about family's contributions to city
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 24, 2007
James Ryan grew up as the oldest son of Chandler's first optometrist and worked
summer jobs in farm fields.
The experience - and taking Spanish classes at Chandler High School - kept him
out of the Vietnam War and likely saved his life, said Ryan, a lawyer.
He will tell the story Tuesday at the Chandler Museum as part of a series of
family history talks sponsored by the Chandler Historical Society. "I was
drafted in 1971 and was going to be sent to Vietnam," said Ryan, 56. Before he
was deployed, he took the Army Language Aptitude Test. His high score in Spanish
persuaded the military not to send him to Vietnam and to give him a national
security assignment instead. "It saved my life," he said.
Working summer jobs in farm fields beside workers who spoke only Spanish helped
him refine language skills taught in high school, he said.
As part of his talk, Ryan, who still lives in the city, will share his late
parents' contributions to Chandler since they arrived there as newlyweds in
Dr. Joseph Ryan was the city's only optometrist until 1970, was president of the
Chandler Chamber of Commerce during the 1950s and led the drive to start
Chandler Community Hospital. Pat Ryan reared 11 children, served on the hospital
auxiliary and was president of the Chandler Service Club.
Joseph died in 1982 at 60. Pat was 70 when she died in 2000.