By Teri Barr
The preparations are underway as Connie Ryan, owner of Ryan Funeral Home, will not only
celebrate the business he built on Madison’s Northside 50 years ago, but also hand over more of the leadership reigns in 2017. The funeral home is the only family-run facility with a legacy dating back to Ryan’s father, who helped start a Madison funeral home in 1938. Ryan’s son, Roman, has been part of the business for more than 25 years and helped it grow to its current four locations. Ryan’s grandson, Casey, marked the start of the fourth generation when he began work as a funeral director apprentice Jan. 1.
“They always say the happiest day of your life is when you get married or buy a home,” Connie Ryan said. “But to be honest, the day I went into business was the happiest day of my life. It meant that it was me. I had to make it. I couldn’t blame anyone else for any failures. It was all on me. Now, to celebrate 50 years and welcome another generation into the family business is an honor.”
Ryan grew up with the funeral business in his blood. His father, Paul, was part of a group that created a funeral home to serve the community 78 years ago. After serving in the Marine Corp, Connie Ryan attended the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science, where he received his degree in 1964. He opened the first, original Ryan Funeral Home on Sherman Avenue Dec. 16, 1966.
Twenty years later, Ryan’s daughter, Diane, made history
as one of the first women in Dane County to earn a funeral director license. Ryan’s son, Roman, joined the business in 1992. In 2000 the Ryan family acquired Joyce Funeral Homes, located on Odana Road in Madison and in Verona, as a way to better assist the needs of families on the growing west side. They sold the Verona building in 2002 and built a new funeral home there. In 2006 the family built the Ryan Funeral Home in DeForest.
“Through the years, we have maintained a high standard of professionalism, while also trying to make a difficult process a bit easier for grieving families,” Ryan said. “My family has always been honored to guide families of all faiths through the process of grieving, and will continue to do so with neighborly concern and professional care.”