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 .