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Mary Ruth Ryan, 89, left this world to join her family in heaven on July 6, 2023. Born December 19, 1933 the baby of six children born to Ralph and Minnie Melvina (Barrett) Wilson in Chelsea, Oklahoma.
As most families of that time, Mary grew up on a farm, working in the garden, helping with canning, feeding chickens, milking cows, and making pets of the calves and other animals.
The family moved to Tulsa around the time of WW2. Mary graduated from Central High School where she made several girlfriends, who she remained close with throughout her life. Never afraid to work, she held a bookkeeping position with a couple of retailers and even preformed the same job for her church for many years.
Mary married James Ryan on January 30, 1954. She always liked to tell the story about him asking her out for fried chicken dinner and she kept refusing. But he persisted until she said yes and because that day, he had very little money, he tried to get her to eat something else. She said, “no fried chicken, no date.” He had to sign a ticket at his uncle’s restaurant to keep the date. They were married 64 years until James passed away July 22, 2018. Together James and Mary had two daughters, Jimmie Ruth and Janet Lee.
When Jimmie started kindergarten, Mary became a full-time homemaker. She was an accomplished seamstress and made most of her girls’ clothes along with altering clothes for James. She was a homeroom mother at various times for both of her daughters. She was regularly active in church with anything the girls were interested in. Mary and James loved to travel as their first real trip was to Phoenix, Arizona to see one of her high school friends. The family went by car and spent two weeks taking their time to get there. They stopped at the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forrest and every roadside historical marker along with way. They laughed about following signs to a reptile farm. They drove one hundred miles out of the way to see it, only to find that it was out of business. They always said the place spent too much money on signs.
Mary always wanted to see Hawaii. James made that happen for their 25th wedding anniversary. They were only there long enough to get a small taste of the beautiful location. So, they returned a few years later for a much longer stay. A couple of Caribbean Cruises and many road trips within the states rounded out their experience of travel enjoying these with numerous friends at different times.
When the family expanded to include grandchildren, Mary enjoyed watching Jimmie’s son, Eli, compete in martial arts. But watching Janet’s son, Michael play baseball got her hooked and she loved to watch the world series.
When Michael’s girls, Ella and Hadley, came along she again became the proud great grandma. She and James enjoyed the girls coming to the house asking for ice cream and wanting to take cookies or fruit from grandma’s house home with them.
The last trip was with the entire family to the Jenks Aquarium. Mary had both daughters, Jimmie and Janet, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, along with their spouses. Mary got to feed the sharks and pet a starfish. She had a picture of everyone together that she liked to keep where she could see it.
Mary enjoyed living in Tulsa at her home until her health began to decline the 1st of January. At that time, she moved to Oklahoma City to live with Jimmie and her husband, David. This move gave her the opportunity to spend more time with Jimmie’s son, Eli and daughter Michelle, along with their children. When the great-grandchildren came to visit, Jessica and Zack always had to find her to speak with her and share a hug. But Reece, being only seven, loved to come in the door shouting “where’s Great-Granny,” and run down the hall to wake her up if she was still in bed.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband, James; parents, Ralph and Minnie; brothers, Robert, Ralph Jr, and Tilden; sisters, Iva May and Lillian. Left to cherish her memories are her daughters, Jimmie Thompson and husband David, Janet Meissinger; grandchildren, Eli Robertson and wife Valorie, Michelle Askins and husband Michael, Michael Meissinger and wife Cassie; great-grandchildren, Reece Robertson, Ella and Hadley Meissinger, Jessica Gatlin and husband Travis, Zachary Askins; sister-in-law Gwendolyn Moore and husband Jim; along with numerous nieces, nephews and other family.
A funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 12, 2023 at the Harvard Avenue Baptist Church in Tulsa with interment following in the Floral Haven Cemetery in Broken Arrow. Arrangements are under the direction of Lehman Funeral Home of Wellston.