AITKIN -- Joseph W. Ryan, 93, longtime Aitkin attorney, died Sunday, March 10, 2002, at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin.
He was born Oct. 16, 1908, in Brainerd to Michael and Helen (Chase) Ryan. He attended St. John's Prep School and University at Collegeville. He graduated from the St. Paul College of Law. He began his law practice in Aitkin in September 1933, a practice that spanned 60 years. He married Carol Hassman on June 27, 1934, in Aitkin. During his 60 years of practice, he incorporated and represented the Aitkin Drainage and Conservancy District, which brought about federal approval and financing of the Mississippi River Diversion Channel. He incorporated Mille Lacs Electric Cooperative in 1939 as one of the first rural cooperatives in Minnesota and continued promoting rural electricity through the 1960s when he incorporated Northern Minnesota Power Association to serve seven area cooperatives in wholesale electric energy purchases. He incorporated and represented United Power Association of Elk River, the power supplier to Mille Lacs and many other distribution co-ops in Minnesota. In 1948 he incorporated the Aitkin Community Hospital and in the 1960s he served on Gov. Harold LeVander's task force on Minnesota Governmental Reorganization. He served as chairman of the board of directors of the First National Bank of Aitkin from 1970 to 1980. He was one of the founders and president of the Aitkin Civic Association, the predecessor of the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce. He was a past trustee of St. James Catholic Church and had taught religious education there for several years. He served on the Board of Regents of St. John's University and in 1980, he received the Walter Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award from St. John's. In 1966 he was presented the Warren Potter Lifetime Achievement Award by the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Crosier Apostolate Knights of Columbus and the Minnesota Bar Association for which he served six years as a member of the Board of Governors.
Survivors include his wife; three sons, Michael Ryan, Richard Ryan and James Ryan, all of Aitkin; a daughter, Mary Godfrey, Oklahoma City, Okla.; 17 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and a brother, Donald Ryan, Brainerd.
A daughter, Ann; a son, John "Jack;" two brothers; and a sister died earlier.
Services will be 11 a.m. Thursday at St. James Catholic Church in Aitkin with Father Patrick Coyle officiating. Burial will be in St. Thomas Cemetery in Aitkin. Memorials are preferred to the Riverwood Healthcare Foundation.
Friends may call from 5-8 p.m. today at Sorensen-Root-Thompson Funeral Home in Aitkin with a prayer service at 7 p.m. and the rosary at 7:30 p.m.
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