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Community ‘Fixture’ Left His Mark on Glendora

Friends and family remember Glendora resident Mark Ryan.

Gail Carty told friends and family gathered at Monday evening that she can’t picture her childhood growing up in Glendora without Mark Ryan in it.

Ryan, the longtime 64-year-old Glendora resident community members affectionately called “Mark of the Park,” always seemed to be everywhere – at Finkbiner Park, in the downtown Village Center, catching a meal at , or anywhere he can ride his bike to in Glendora. But most of all, people recalled how Ryan seemed to know everyone’s name.

“I know if Mark were alive today, he’d know the names of each and every one of you here,” Carty said at Ryan’s memorial.

And when , the multitude of stories both online and throughout the community, from people spanning all age groups and generations spoke of how Ryan touched their lives.

And the stories continued on Monday for Ryan’s memorial.

Born William Mark Ryan in Sioux City, Iowa in 1947, Ryan moved to Glendora with his family in 1965 when he was 18 years old.  Since then, Ryan became what community called a fixture in Glendora, a local celebrity of sorts.

Friends at Ryan’s memorial recalled he was a simple man, who went out of his way to get to know anyone he encountered.

Ryan was mentally disabled, and for a society not used to random friendly interaction from strangers, some admitted that there was an initial apprehension when Ryan first approached them.

But Ryan would always be the first to calm their fears with, “It’s okay, it’s me, Mark.”

Rick Ryan recalled how he and his older brother would talk for hours about Ryan’s favorite subjects – music, cars, tractors and anything on wheels.

Ryan would engage anyone he met in lively conversations and became known for his wide knowledge of music. It became a running game for people to try and stump him with music trivia, which no one could seem to do, said his brother.

One after another the stories of how Ryan’s generosity, his friendliness to everyone and his childlike innocence touched the lives of the people he met.

An effort to install a public memorial for Ryan is underway, with some community members pushing to display Ryan’s bike at or at the .

“He was a good guy, a pure soul,” said friend Tony Zampiello who lived across the street from Mark for 24 years. ”I know we have nothing to worry about, except for all of us. He was a gift to Glendora and he will be missed.”

A funeral mass will be held at St. Dorothy’s Church today at 8:30 a.m. followed by a burial at .

Sherrill May 15, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Yes, Glendora resedents will miss seeing him. He was a part of Glendrora. I have lived here most of my life and have seen him as you say everywere for years. Always polite and nice to people. I am very sorry for the family's loss. God bless you all and may he give you peace.
MellowMaverick May 15, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I really hope that Glendora can get a memorial put in place for Mark. If there is a central organizing committee or office that is working on that, please let us know how we can help or contribute.I think it would be great to rename Finkbiner Park or the smaller Ole Hammer park to "Mark's park" in honor of him. I mean, Finkbiner and Ole Hammer have no relevance to most Glendorans today, do they? I can see why the Finkbiner park may want to retain the name for historical purposes but I think if the Ole Hammer name on that park went away we wouldn't lose sleep over it. Then maybe a memorial to Mark could be put up there......at "Mark Ryan Park:" just brainstorming here.
Jeanette Scheiern May 15, 2012 at 05:14 PM
hello, Please consider what B.K.Holthaus just wrote,I think I can speak for those who live in Glendora,Mark the Park touched everyone who lived in Glendora and all of us would be touched to remember Mark in this way and Glendora is a town of families,well Mark the park is and was our family,he touched so many lives in such different ways and wouldn't his life be a tribute to name fink binder park after Mark the Park,and what a name for a park fink binder. I hope Glendora you think long and hard about this,because we as residence in Glendora lost a great man! What a way to remember Mark! Mark we will miss you deeply,to his family and close friends,I am so sorry for your loss,may Gods peace be upon you! And the people surround you with Gods love!! God's love and peace be with you all, Jeanette Scheiern
Denise B. May 15, 2012 at 05:57 PM
BK- Ironically everyone that spoke at Mark's memorial celebration kept referring to the park as "rec park". That tells you how long we have all been around. I do know that we are working on getting the bike in the historical museum along with a few of the signed placards from the public memorial. The family had a great photo collage that would be perfect and complete the exhibit. The best option for the park would be a bronze of a bike and a plaque honoring Mark. We would have to price this out and see if it is feasible. If anyone has any ideas where this could be done and how much it would be, please provide this information and I will ensure that it is followed up on. As for the public memorial, many of the people that visited left cards and notes to Mark. Zac Bushey picked all these up and ensured the family received them. The family mentioned to Zac they would put them in the casket with Mark before he was buried. I was moved by the fact that Mark had a very loving family that provided him with a rich life. His sister commented that when her mother passed she knew that Glendora would look after Mark. It is a tribute to our town that we embraced, protected and according to many at the service, maybe overfed Mark as he traveled throughout our community. Luckily he got lots of exercise. I am confident we will find the right vehicle to honor Mark, but it is imperative that we not act in haste. It needs to encompass his spirit and how that spirit inspired a town.
MellowMaverick May 15, 2012 at 06:50 PM
As usual, Denise, you are on top of things and the idea of the bronzed bike and plaque would be great. I hope it wasn't perceived that I was playing loose and free with Glendora history and identity but I don't know anyone who has any idea of where "Finkbiner" and "Ole Hammer" came from or why parks are named after them. Unless it's a presidental naming, I see nothing wrong with renaming things now and then to let them have more meaning to residents. In 100 years no one will probably understand Mark's place in Glendora and they may wish to rename things as well. I think that's healthy. But in the meantime, any kind of memorial will make us all feel better about having Mark's spirit staying in the community.
Denise B. May 15, 2012 at 07:01 PM
HA Well Finkbiner was a beloved former mayor who did much to make Glendora what it is today. We must have respect for tradition and for those that came before us BK. That's the point of naming things for people... their legacy lives on even when they are no longer with us. For those of you that don't know... I have a sort of mutual admiration society thing going on with BK where we use Patch to applaud each other's efforts on a regular basis. Since BK is a gem of a writer, I tend to benefit the most from this arrangement. Thank you BK.
E May 15, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I'd like to believe that Glendora is still a little bit like Mayberry. Small town, great people, looking out for one another. Well without Mark, Mayberry just lost some of that small town feel. Mark Ryan was like our Floyd the Barber. Men like Mark cannot die, for they are as real in our minds as they were in the flesh. Forever loved, forever be loved. God speed Mark
MellowMaverick May 15, 2012 at 08:08 PM
You're welcome, Denise. I just wish i had a moderate amount of your savvy in what is happening in Glendora, but I am rather isolated in many ways :) I have always liked to think outside the box and try to approach things creatively so I do get carried away now and then. I just like the idea that a community would shine a special light on a person who wasn't a public servant or famous for anything except being a decent person...sort of a celebration of the average man. Society so often holds people on a pedestal who make a big splash in life. I like the focus on Mark Ryan because this was a man whose deeds were modest and came from a good heart. I really think we need to show that we value people like that. However that is done, I just hope it does the man justice. More of us are Mark than a Mr. Finkbiner or President or someone who seeks the limelight. Maybe it's time to shine on one who, like many of us, just tries to do what is good and right each day and makes no big deal of it. What we do for Mark Ryan as a community will reveal as much about our city's character as about his. I'm in, no matter what is done!
Darren Moody May 16, 2012 at 12:43 AM
"Men like Mark cannot die..." Men like Mark will die in spirit only if the community that they were a part of, allows this to happen.To me, I see this this is happening in some of these comments and suggestions of renaming Finkbiner Park. With absolutely no disrepect to Mark at all, don't you think that the park was named after Mayor Joe Finkbiner for a reason, and that was a way to memorialize and honor HIS legacy and impact on the community? Since Mark was such a part of Glendora as a whole, maybe instead of one centeralized memorial, there can be multiple smaller memorials spread out in various locations. (Including the park, and somewhere in the village of course!)
MellowMaverick May 16, 2012 at 01:10 AM
I don't think the economy will support multiple memorials, although one in the park and one at the museum would seem reasonable. And Darren, relax......no one is going to rename any park...that's definitely not Glendora's style or tendency. I was just brainstorming and reaching for possibilities. To get action, someone has to get the ball rolling in a discussion. I can't help it if mine is a little flat :)
Dena Newman May 16, 2012 at 07:42 AM
someone on FB had suggested bike racks throughout town with plaques on them. I thought that sounded kind of neat. Something to consider. As one of the persons that hung out at Rec park with Mark, I still think we should put a bronzed bike and plaque in the park.
Renee Richey May 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Renee Richey (aka Debbi Newman) I lived in two different homes on Dalton St, at the end of which is Finkbiner Park(1965-1980)..I remember Mark vividly as a wonderful kind soul who always had a smile. I'm sure God has welcomed him with open arms.
MellowMaverick May 16, 2012 at 03:52 PM
The bike racks are a good idea, Dena! I also thought that with all the bike lanes, the city could mark one of the routes as the "Mark Ryan Bikepath".
Patty Rangel May 16, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Off topic, but I've been trying to get in touch with B.K. for years. I was one of your students at Alhambra HS, and would love to get in touch. badp@sbcglobal.net. -Patty (Andrews) Rangel
MellowMaverick May 17, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I just e-mailed you, Patty. Always great to hear from ex-students!
Christy Cave May 17, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Raise funds (donations) during the Summer Concerts In The Park - Place a bench at the park in his honor.
MellowMaverick May 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Excellent suggestion about raising funds!

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