Ryans honored as Island Treasures
Longtime island residents Bonny and Gary Ryan were honored as Island Treasures this year at the Block Island Residents Association annual meeting on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The Ryans were clearly moved as they accepted the plaque from BIRA Treasurer Donna Corey, who made the announcement of the honor. Corey said the award was in recognition of “all that Gary and Bonny Ryan have done for this community over many, many years.”
After the announcement, Gary Ryan said, through tears, “We love Block Island and we do care about it.”
The reasons for the Ryans’ honor were summed up by an email from Capt. Kate McConville of the Volunteer Rescue Squad, which was read out loud at the meeting.
“The bonds that are created within the BIVFRD are immeasurable. You are put into situations of tragedy with a team of people, people who become your island family.”
“I first met Gary and Bonny Ryan when I took the EMT class in 1998. They have both held ranking positions within the Rescue Squad: Gary as previous Captain, Lieutenant, and crew chief and Bonny as crew chief and secretary.”
“Bonny has been such a mentor to me. We paired up as partners for rescue duty every Saturday during the summer season together for eight or nine years, and she's been Bon Bon ever since. She helped instill in me a level of respect for the hierarchy in the Department. She shows compassion towards every patient and incident we've been dispatched to, and that number is in the 1,000s. She has been the Rescue secretary since I can remember. This has entailed deciphering countless run-sheets, maintaining responding personnel records, seasonal and annual reports, etc. She has been a CPR and First Aid instructor to innumerable groups annually (seasonal workers to Town staff). This is a vital part of educating our community, and she has done all of this as a volunteer.”
“Gary has been somewhat of a father figure to me. He's always available to just listen or give advice. His honest opinion is very much respected on the BIVFRD as well as in the community. He is a vital part of the Harbors Department, as Assistant Harbormaster. He brings so much knowledge and experience with him. He is a calming presence in any situation.”
“The Ryans are modest, humble people. They are both extremely hard working and give so much of themselves to the community. I'm honored to have them as part of my family.”
When the Ryans’ granddaughters stood to speak, they experienced a little stagefright until they were prompted by their grandfather.
“What do we say when we leave each other?” asked Gary Ryan.
The answer, the kids said, was: “I love you.”