Thomas Arthur Ryan Jr.

Ryan—Thomas Arthur Ryan Jr., 77, on October 17, 2017, in State College, Pa., of pneumonia, with his wife, Lauri, holding his hand. Tom was born on June 12, 1940, in Ithaca, N.Y., to Mary Shaw and Thomas Arthur Ryan Sr. Growing up in a nonreligious household, he became a Methodist as a student of Wesleyan University and considered taking a year at Yale Divinity School, prompting the only letter his atheist father ever sent him—an offer to pay for a year of studies in philosophy. Getting the message, he began graduate study in mathematics at Cornell University. Taking part in the 1960s peace movement piqued his interest in Friends, but he assumed that the Quakers didn’t want newcomers. He married fellow graduate student Barbara Falkenbach. After completing his doctorate and teaching at Columbia University, he moved to Pennsylvania State University in 1969. With colleague Brian Joiner, Tom and Barbara developed Minitab, statistical software that over 4,000 colleges and universities and 90 percent of Fortune 100 companies use. The American Statistical Association in 1981 recognized him, naming him Fellow. He was lead programmer and became Minitab’s first president in 1983.

Tom and Barbara divorced after 20 years. In the early 1980s, while visiting Mohonk Mountain House in New York, he encountered a Friends Journal issue that made clear Quakers welcome newcomers. He attended State College Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Quaker Studies, a Spiritual Gifts retreat, a weekly Bible study, and two meetings for worship. In 1985, on his first date with Lauri Perman, he told her about Friends meeting, and she asked to go with him. Ten days later they decided to marry, and in April 1986 they did, under the care of State College Meeting, which they joined in 1987. When they welcomed a son, Tom was an equal parent from the start.

Leaving Minitab in 1988, he clerked State College Meeting, the Friends School board, and the Foxdale Village board, of which he was a founding member—a Foxdale groundbreaking ceremony photograph shows him holding infant Nate. He prepared the meeting’s weekly bulletin; taught First-day school; hosted Silent Saturday retreats; and served on monthly and yearly committees, especially Religious Education and Outreach Committees, his passion for outreach coming from the delay between his first interest in Quakers and his first attendance. Teaching himself HTML, he built and maintained his meeting’s and Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s first websites.

A pneumonia episode that collapsed a lung in 1988 left him with a hypoxic brain injury that caused fatigue and executive-function difficulties as he aged. In 1999, he retired from Penn State; assumed primary care for Nate; visited his mother daily for nine years; cooked for his family; volunteered at a local charter school; and taught Cub Scouts woodworking, which he loved, especially making dovetails. In spite of diabetes, heart problems, neuropathy, and a 2005 vascular dementia diagnosis, he attended Pendle Hill classes in 2007–09 while Lauri was executive director. He wrote a small book, Reflections on Dovetails, describing the meditative dovetail-making process and likening dovetails to his relationship with God. At Foxdale, where he moved in 2009, he continued to read and watch instructional woodworking DVDs. In 2015, for his seventy-fifth birthday, Lauri and Nate took him to his beloved Mohonk. A devoted son, father, and husband, even at the end of his life, humor sustained him. In his last summer, he and Lauri ate a meal together outside every day. His food passion that summer was fresh berries, and the prodigious quantity of raspberries and strawberries he ate underscored for Lauri the sweetness of a life well lived. He is survived by his wife, Lauri Perman; his son, Nathaniel Arthur Ryan; his sister, Adelaide Lyon, called Susie (Stephen); a nephew; a niece; and a grandnephew.

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