Clarence A "Bud" Ryan, a WSU faculty member whose decades of work at WSU helped establish the university as a leader in plant sciences, died of a brain aneurysm Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007, in a Spokane hospital.
Ryan was the first WSU faculty member to be admitted to the National Academy of Sciences.
A celbration of his life is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Gladish Community Center in Pullman. He is survived by his wife Pat and two daughters, Janis and Jamie.
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-- Remembrances of Michael Griswold, dean, College of Sciences
I came to WSU in1976 to interview for a position as an assistant professor. Ralph Yount was the chair of the department at that time and he set me up to talk with Bud Ryan. I remember very clearly that first interaction with Bud. He was soft spoken and yet the passion he had for his research and the beautiful scientific story he told made a lasting impression and influenced my decision to come here. Over the 31 plus years that have gone by since that first interaction I have been privileged to call Bud a friend and a colleague and more. Overarching all of our interactions was an intensity for the research and the science. We exchanged excited stories of discovery and planned experiments.
As I thought about Bud over the last few days, I realized that for me and for many others Bud Ryan was and is a true hero. One of the applicable definitions of a hero is: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities, one that shows great courage, one who is the central figure in an event, period, or movement.
Bud was one of us but he did everything better. His academic background in Montana and Oregon was something we could relate to- it wasn’t Harvard or MIT. He was relatively undistinguished when he came to WSU -- an institution that was also relatively undistinguished. He spent nearly his entire academic career as a cougar. He and Pat endured family tragedy and yet he persevered and succeeded as only a true hero could.
Bud’s scientific career is one to admire and emulate. He started his research program by buying a bag of potatoes at the local grocery store. This study with the simplest of beginnings became more complex and elegant at the same time. In succeeding years his laboratory discovered and reported on chemical signaling systems found in plants. Bud began a phase of his research that propelled him to the very top of his field. The research was innovative- the concepts were breakthroughs. Because of these scientific achievements, Bud was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986-the first scientist in the history of WSU to be so selected. Out of the hundreds of thousands of scientists in the US -- only a select few are members of this exclusive academy. His total list of honors and awards is remarkable and he is listed in the Science Citation Index as one of the world’s most cited scientific authors.
What has all of this meant to WSU? Bud is clearly the type of hero that is the central figure in an event, period, or movement ? The scientific achievements of this one scientist have provided to WSU a measure of recognition and credibility from the rest of the scientific world that is difficult to quantify. WSU is well known around the world among scientists and educated people especially in the area of plant research because of the accomplishments of Clarence A. Ryan. WSU is currently regarded as one of the best places to study plant molecular sciences in the entire world, and we attract the best students and faculty in this area. Perhaps, if Bud had not come to WSU, we would still have a good plant science program, but his presence and his reputation have catalyzed the excellence we currently have. All of us in research labs at WSU even those of us not in plant sciences know it is possible to emulate his success. That is what made him our hero-he showed what is possible. He provided a model of excellence. In 2005, the WSU Board of Regents voted Bud an honorary doctorate degree. The university had not awarded an honorary doctorate since 1995 and has awarded only four such degrees in the last half-century.
Through all of these honors Bud remained humble and even somewhat embarrassed by the fuss. He told me that the most enjoyable recognition he received when he became a member of the National Academy was when his basketball buddies from Colfax came and took him to lunch.
He also would bashfully tell the story of one of the times he was cited in a national publication. After some of his research papers were published about the capability of plants to protect themselves from attack by insects Bud got a call from a reporter at the National Enquirer. Bud had no idea that the National Enquirer was a supermarket tabloid of questionable repute. Sometime later the National Enquirer published a picture of Bud Ryan, famed research scientist holding his killer tomatoes.
Bud and I interacted in a number of non-academic ways. In recent years Bud caught steelhead on my boat in the Snake River and we spent a week in Canada fly fishing for Northern Pike. For many years we met for lunch along with a ragtag group of faculty that solves the problems of the world and secretly runs the university.
What I remember most fondly is that Bud and I played basketball together -- more often than not it was noonball -- three times a week. All of his noonball friends will remember the many times that "Bud" would "educate" a young hotshot student on the court. As time went by and Bud and I became the elder statesmen of noonball we nearly always paired up and guarded each other. Some time in the future someone will ask a trivia question about who was the highest scoring basketball player in WSU history. There will be only one right answer -- it will not be some star athlete -- the correct answer will be Bud Ryan. We once estimated that over the course of his 40+ years of noonball Bud probably scored well over 40,000 points -- most of them were scored over me. Bud was very proud that he had played competitive basketball (high school, college, city league, county league and anyplace else) in six decades.
We shared a lot of other time together including many years of meeting at the golf course at 6 AM, playing 9 holes and getting to our offices by shortly after 8 Golf was another of Bud's passions and he was always ready to play. I don’t think Bud ever knew that the only reason I played golf was so I could spend that time with him. Often it was the two of us looking through the rough for my ball while his rested neatly on the green. Perhaps another definition of hero is relevant here: a hero is a legendary figure endowed with great strength or ability. If you played basketball or golf with Bud he often seemed to be that kind of hero.
To many who knew him well Bud’s academic and athletic credentials pale in comparison to his credentials as a warm, caring, humble, colleague and friend. He lived the concepts of, “world class, face-to-face” and “trust and respect in all we do” before these words became a part of our WSU culture. His life touched the lives of many others in important ways. His great achievements, his noble character, his courage and his important impact on WSU made him our champion- our hero. Our role now is to honor his life and his memory by following his example.
From the Talmud -- “There are stars who's light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen apart. There are people who's remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.”
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-- Edward "Ted" Farmer, professor, Universite de Lausanne.
Photo: Bud Ryan with his technicians Scott Johnson (center) and Greg Pearce (left) the day that Bud received the amino acid sequence of systemin from colleagues at Harvard. The next days were very exciting as Greg and Scott tested synthetic systemin peptide and found that it was as active as the substance they had isolated after years of labor. They had discovered the first peptide hormone from plants. I remember the excitement this created. The photo was taken in 1990. The publication was submitted early in 1991 and appeared later that year in Science. In the meantime Barry McGurl cloned the prosystemin gene in Bud's lab. Thanks Bud, I miss you.
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-- Javier Narvaez-Vasquez, professional researcher at UC-Riverside; and former Ph.D. student and post-doctoral fellow in Bud Ryan's lab
Bud Ryan was a great plant biochemist, an outstanding scientist, a visionary man, an amazing professor, he was a great mentor. He was my mentor and also my wife's mentor. He was, and will always be our inspiration. But overall, Dr. Ryan, as we always called him, was a nice human being, a big hearted man. He adopted us like a father. And he did the same with many others through his life. He always looks over for us, to help us grow. He always treated every body with respect, and was always there to help us troubleshooting and go over research problems. He did never close his office door for anybody. He was always open and willing to listen and give you advice. Like when I came with tears in my eyes, because I had a personal problem. He told me, please don't cry, there are always solutions for all the problems in life, except for death. And he was always there to support you. Also, I will ! always remember how he helped me and my family to come back to the USA when our lives were in danger and we have to resign to our jobs in our home country. Dr. Ryan, we will always love and be so grateful to you. You'll remain in our hearts for ever.
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Following are comments submitted by several colleagues in the National Academy of Science's Plant Biology Section 25, with whom Bud Ryan worked. Their thoughts -- submitted by Anthony Cashmore, a member of that group -- express the affection and respect they felt:
Anthony Cashmore: I just learned the horrible news that Bud Ryan died unexpectedly of a massive brain aneurysm. I knew Bud well enough to know that, in addition to his excellent science, his distinguishing feature was that I never heard anyone say anything bad about him.
Mark Estelle: Very sad news indeed. I visited Bud last year and was struck by how much he had accomplished in the previous three years, despite the fact that he was supposedly retired. Sounds corny, but he was a real gentleman.
Winslow Briggs: Dreadful news indeed! I couldn't agree more! One only heard great things about him, whether about his science or his remarkable humanity. A terrible loss!
Marc van Montagu: I am very shocked by this horrible and frightening news. In the last 10 years, I had the pleasure to meet him yearly, often at the Danforth Science Advisory Board meetings. He was always not only very kind and helpful, but very attentive for defending plant sciences in the outstanding way he did his own research. All who had the privilege to known him personally will deeply regret such a beautiful person.
Roger Beachy: This is very sad news, indeed. Bud was a gentleman, in both senses of the word, and made contributions so great that it will be difficult to account for his impacts for years to come.
Bob Haselkorn: I am in Beijing about to give a talk in Life Science at Peking U. What a shocker about Bud. He was a rock and will be sorely missed in the section, the academy, and the plant world.
Maarten Chrispeels: This is terrible news indeed. Bud was such a gentleman in the real meaning of that word. He loved the simple rural life in his small town. No city slicker he was. His science slowly matured over a 50 year period. An amazing guy.
Peter Quail: Very sad news about Bud Ryan. He was a gentleman and a scholar whose pioneering work will have a lasting impact on the field of plant biology. He was renowned for his quiet, modest, low-key presentations during which he was frequently announcing truly paradigm-shifting new research data. He will be missed by the plant biology community, national and international.
-- John Cape, retired physicist, fellow classmate and buddy of Ryan at Carroll College
Much has been rightly written about Bud Ryan's scientific contributions, but it should also be noted that he was a terrific athlete. I will never forget seeing one fantastic basketball game he played for Carroll College. In the first half Carroll played poorly and was behind by some 20 points at the half. But in the second half, Bud simply took over and with extraordinary determination simply took the ball repeatedly around and through the defenders and almost single handedly brought Carroll final victory. I have never seen such an exhibition of determined athletic excellence.
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-- Vince Wingate, former post doctorate student
Bud was a wonderful human being. The number of graduate students and posts docs that went through his lab and obtained an excellent scientif! ic training owe in part their success to Bud. More importantly Bud showed us how to live your life as a decent human being. He had a balanced life. Always played basket ball at lunch time, well into his 60's. When ever you called him, his love of his family and wife Pat always showed. And then there were the Cougs. Bud was truely a gentleman in every respect and I miss him greatly. My depsest sympathy and prayers go out to Pat and his family.
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-- Phanikanth Turlapati, research assistant, Institute of Biological Chemistry
It is a great shock to the Institute of Biological chemistry where he worked for 43 years, having lost such a wonderful and enthusiastic scientist. Bud Ryan was a great mentor and researcher. His loss cannot be replaced. It is my great pleasure to know such a great scientist. May his soul rest in peace.
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-- Daniel Bergey, former post-doctoral fellow, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, S.D. Spearfish, S.D.
Bud Ryan was much more than a great scientist -- he was an exceptional human being who touched and inspired countless lives. He will forever be carried in the warm hearts of all those who knew him. He was a paragon; a prince among men who leaves an indelible legacy of excellence, and the unbounded magnificence of the human spirit.
-- Patrick Ryan, nephew
This year will be hard because the family lost the "Head Coug" over the weekend. Some of you may know him, probably most don't. My uncle, Bud Ryan, passed away. He was a professor at Washington State for more than 40 years and was the first faculty member from WSU to become a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the WSU faculty representative for athletics in the early 90's. One of the guys behind the scene that never wanted any attention but always strived to make WSU a better institution any way he could, either thru academics or athletics.
To our family he was the "Head Coug" that either got most of the abuse when the Ducks won or gave it right back when WSU prevailed. Through the highs of the 1997 WSU Rosebowl and the tough years, he was always there to show his support and pride for the school he represented. Whether it was Rueben Mayes rushing for an NCAA record against the Ducks in the mid-eighties or Rueben Droughns running through WSU in the late 90's, he rooted the Cougs on through thick and thin.
He would be mad as hell that I am drawing any type of attention to him.That's Ok.
What I know is the game will go on this weekend. Both teams will play hard and there will be a winner and loser. One team will revel, the other will think of next year and revenge -- much like my family and many other families do in this and any other rivalry.
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-- Submitted by Greg Pearce, technician / scientific assistant senior, IBC
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-- Steve Doares, former post-doctoral fellow, now director of Clinical Materials Mfg. for Wyeth (corporation)
Bud was an oustanding scientist, a well-rounded person and a gentleman in every respect. My years in Pullman working with him were among most scientifically and personally rewarding that I've lived. He was a rare combination of intelligence, drive, humility and graciousness. If we could all aspire to follow this man's example on how to lead a life, what a world it would be.
Guynethia Buckley, retired from business and economics, died Sept. 16. She worked at WSU 1971-1990.
Andrew Ludwig Hofmeister
Andrew Ludwig Hofmeister, retired from WSU Pullman's Fine Arts faculty, died Sept. 1, 2007. He worked at WSU 1946-1978.
Hofmeister died of complications from diabetes at age 94. He was born in Kulm, North Dakota, on Feb. 16, 1913 to John and Martha Billigmeier Hofmeister. On May 19, 1940, he married Jane Habedank LaBrie in Malta, Montana. Hofmeister grew up on a homestead near Ingomar, Montana. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Montana in 1938, he taught in several public schools in Montana. He earned his MFA degree at Washington State University in 1947 and joined the Fine Arts faculty that same year, retiring three decades later in 1978. In 1997 the Hofmeisters moved from Pullman to Olympia, Washington to live with their daughter.
Despite declining health, Hofmeister maintained his passion as an artist and continued to paint until a few weeks before his death. He was preceded in death by his brother Raymond Hofmeister; sister, Irene Olson; and wife Jane (2003). Survivors include his daughter, Andree Castoldi (Richard) in Olympia; son, Jon Hofmeister (Barbara) in Eugene, Oregon; four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Please leave condolences online at: www.funeralalternatives.org.
Betty J. Brewer
Betty J. Brewer, retired from housing services, died Aug. 27, 2007. She worked at WSU 1974-1990.
George Leary, retired from psychology, died Aug. 24, 2007. He worked at WSU 1965-1984.
Cassey Elliott, Northside Marketplace, died Aug. 11. She worked at WSU since August 2006.
John Crane, emeritus professor of biology and zoology, died on June 18, 2007.
Crane earned his Ph.D for study in parasitology at the University of California, Davis and came to WSU in 1970 where he primarily taught large introductory biological science classes and parasitology. Over the years he estimated that he had taught 50,000 students.
Crane was noted for his humor, ability to tell a good story, and willingness to give his opinion while being evenhanded. The affection and esteem in which he was held by his students was demonstrated by his selection to be Grand Marshall of the Homecoming Parade in 1999. He also received recognition from his peers as the recipient of the 1989 President’s Faculty Excellence Award in Instruction (now the Sahlin Award).
Although he retired in 2000, he continued to teach General Biology through the Distance Degree Program.
“John was recognized as one of the outstanding teachers of the university,” said Gary Thorgaard, director of the School of Biological Sciences. Crane also advised for freshman seminar programs, the General Biology program and for Delta Chi fraternity, among many others.