Saskatoon’s business community is mourning the loss of a pioneer.
Shirley Ryan, the former executive director for the North Saskatoon Business Association, died suddenly Monday.
Her obituary in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix said she was surrounded by family and friends. Ryan was born in 1929.
Keith Moen, the current head of the NSBA, spoke Wednesday about Ryan’s legacy as a leader and mentor.
“I didn’t even try to fill Shirley’s shoes because she was such a unique individual who did the job in such a charismatic and powerful way,” said
Moen, who took over when Ryan retired after 19 years holding the post.
When the organization was originally formed in the early 60s, the NSBA acronym stood for the North Saskatoon Businessman’s Association.
Moen said Ryan’s tenacity and leadership helped propel the NSBA forward during a time when business was still overwhelmingly a “man’s world.”
“She not just held her own, she dominated,” he said. “She was truly a force to be reckoned with.”
Moen remembers Shirley as a husky-voiced chain smoker, who was a fiercely loyal, kind-hearted person.
Personable and professional, Ryan was a major driving force behind membership growth and business advocacy for the NSBA.
“She was certainly front and centre with the NSBA and with the whole business community,” said Jack Brodsky, former owner of the Saskatoon
Brodsky remembers Ryan as a leader who could disagree, but would always come to a consensus for the good of the city.
“You never had to wonder what she was thinking, she always told you exactly what was on her mind and in very plain terms, very understandable,” he said.
Most of all, the former business owner said he will fondly remember his conversations with Ryan.
“Sit down and have a chat with and a couple of cocktails and have lots of laughs – just a real wonderful woman in my mind, and someone who is really
going to be missed.”
Premier Brad Wall said Ryan did wonderful things for the Saskatoon economy and she was a voice for all of Saskatchewan’s economy.
“Shirley Ryan was a tour de force.” “She will be missed,” he said on Gormley Wednesday.
A memorial service will be held October 23 at 2:00 p.m. in Prairieland Park.
-With files from David Kirton and Daniella Ponticelli