Obituary: Kathryn Mary Ryan

Kathryn Mary (Campbell) Ryan passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in La Cañada Flintridge on Dec. 13 after 81 blessed years.

Kathryn “Kay” was born in Detroit, Mich. on March 25, 1935, to Harry and Julia (Lynn) Campbell.  She was the first of three children. Her younger brothers Alex and Harry followed soon after.

The family moved to Sunland, Calif., in early 1949. Kay graduated from Bellarmine-Jefferson High School in Burbank and received her bachelor’s in mathematics from Immaculate Heart College in 1957. She interned at NBC Studios learning about TV and movie production. When she graduated, she started a career in engineering at Lockheed Aircraft and later moved to their Missiles and Space division in Van Nuys.

Kay met Robert “Bob” Ryan in a history class in college. Kay dropped her books in front of Bob while coming into class from the rain twice in a row. We will never know if this was intentional, but it certainly brought wonderful results. They had many common experiences and values having both grown up in Detroit. She talked about Bob’s jalopies that he would pick her up in like his MG TC and various Jaguars. The pair even earned some SCCA rally trophies with Kay as navigator. In 1958, after Bob completed his Naval service to our country, they were married and moved to a house they had built in Sunland.

Life changed when Kay became a mom. After their first child, Rob, was born, her best friend, her father, Harry, passed. Her mom, Julia “Nana,” moved in with them. Kay retired from engineering, as they say, “to bake cookies” for her growing family. The extended family moved to La Cañada in 1963 to get a bigger house, have a great yard for kids, and be close to Bob’s work at Jet Propulsion Lab. Rob was quickly followed by Margaret and Kathy, and as Rob’s 15th birthday present, Kay and Bob gave him a brother, Tom.

Kay nurtured and encouraged the children as Cub Scout leader, den mother, Girl Scout leader, room mom and volunteer in St. Bede’s School office. She also helped out at St. Francis High School and St. Bede’s Church, especially the Parish Council of Women. Her work paid off with the children earning multiple degrees from Cal Poly, UCI, CSUN, UCLA, UCI and USD.

Kay loved the mountains as a stark contrast to her childhood in Detroit. She and Bob would often cook Sunday breakfast on a camp stove way up Angeles Crest Highway. She enjoyed camping in many of the national parks such as Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Lassen. Later the family spent summer vacations in condos and houses in Mammoth hiking, biking, boating and fishing with day trips to Bodie and Mono Lake. They enjoyed taking the kids to the beach for surf, sand and tuna sandwiches on rye. Occasionally, the family enjoyed a week at her brother Alex’s vacation home in Balboa and could sail around the bay or jump in the surf. As her children married and grandchildren came, they continued to have large family vacations in Mammoth filled with more joyful memories.

Rosary and Mass with Monsignor Antonio was held Thursday, Dec. 22, at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada Flintridge. Kay was interred at Mission San Fernando Cemetery following the Mass. Cabot & Sons, Pasadena directors.