James P. Ryan, 89, of Glenwood, MD, a successful home builder and exceptional thoroughbred horse racing owner and breeder, died peacefully on Friday, March 11, 2022. Jim is survived by his wife, Mariam, of 27 years, 5 children, 2 step-children, 15 grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, and ex-wife Linda Ryan.
Jim was born on December 4th, 1932 in Pittsburgh, PA. Jim was preceded in death by his brothers, Ed Ryan, Bill Ryan, and sister Adele Moritz. He was also preceded in death by his ex-wife and the mother to his 5 children, Eleanor Ross.
Jim was best known as a philanthropist. Making his fortune in the home-building business, Jim worked closely with his brother, Ed, at Ryan Homes and founded Ryland Homes in 1967 in Columbia, MD. Ryland Homes grew to be one of the top home-building companies in the nation.
Jim served in the U.S. Airforce and graduated with his master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola College.
Jim’s advocation was horse racing, which eventually grew into a full-scale business. His operation, Ryehill Farm, employed Hall of Fame trainers and won the Belmont Stakes in 1983. For a decade he was one of the country’s leading owners and breeders in the thoroughbred industry. He became one of the game’s most visible and controversial figures in bringing to light the deplorable conditions in the stable areas of U.S. racetracks, leading to his founding of the Backstretch program.
Through the Ryan Family Foundation, Jim spent millions enhancing the lives of thousands by supporting various charities. The foundation supported over 100 different organizations, especially those having to do with the handicapped, housing for the poor, and inner-city programs for the homeless.
Jim Ryan’s true love affair was with people of the world, deeply stemming from his high social character. His love of humanity and his unhesitating generosity were among his main defining qualities. He always had a smile ready for anyone and loved giving advice whether in life or business. Working with Operation Smile in the Middle East, he met his wife Mariam and became a friend of the Palestinian people. He proceeded to build homes, start a dental clinic, fund loans and other missions in Palestine, the Middle East and Africa.
Jim will be greatly missed by his family and many friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jim's memory to United Palestinian Appeal.
United Palestinian Appeal
1330 New Hampshire Ave NW Ste 104, Washington DC 20036