It is with sadness and great admiration that we say goodbye to former BTSCD President Jim Ryan, a larger than life personality with a servant’s heart who passed away on February 22, 2021, at the age of 77.
“Jim was always passionate about kids. He was particularly passionate about helping at-risk kids,” said Diana, his wife of 57 years. His early work with BTSCD focused on distributing used clothes to students. “When schools started talking about uniforms they switched over, then it was underwear and socks, then sewing and shoes, and then it went to backpacks filled with school supplies,” Diana continued.
Jim touched thousands of young lives through his commitment to the organization and earned a Hon Kachina Award in 2001. Even after he retired, he continued to follow along through various news outlets.
In addition to his work with BTSCD, Jim enjoyed entertaining Arizona’s children by playing Santa Claus throughout the Valley and at the St. Charles Mission School on the Apache Reservation in San Carlos. One day, a sixth-grade student was questioning if Santa was real and, Diana recalled, he asked if he could feel his stomach. “Then the boy’s eyes got big and he said ‘that is real!’ Santa was never doubted after that.”
And neither was Jim’s legacy.