Obituary: Joseph A. Ryan, 90

by | May 15, 2024

Joe participated in the first nonstop flight from Antarctica via the South Pole to Punta Arenas, Chile

From the Hill Funeral Home website

Joseph A. Ryan, 90, of East Greenwich, passed away on May 11. He was the husband of 58 years to Pauline R. Ryan. Born in Cranston, he was the son of the late Joseph and Agnes Ryan.

Joe was a 1952 LaSalle High School and Providence College graduate in 1956. He was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve, serving 20 years as a Naval Flight Officer until his retirement as a Lieutenant Commander in 1976. During this time, Joe participated in the first nonstop flight across the unchartered waters of the Antarctic Continent from Antarctica via the South Pole to Punta Arenas, Chile. This was the first flight in history to prove the feasibility of air travel between the Eastern and Western Hemisphere via trans-Antarctic routing. From 1966 to 1968, Joe was deployed twice to Vietnam, earning the Air Medal for meritorious achievement as a navigator aboard the Navy’s P-3 aircraft supporting operations in Southeast Asia.

After leaving the Navy, Joe and his family returned to Rhode Island, where he raised his family and worked as a flight instructor for over 20 years. He earned the 1998 Rhode Island Pilot of the Year honors and logged over 15,000 hours of flight time.

Joe was the last surviving sibling and youngest of four. His passing follows his sisters, Barbara Duffy, Laurel Caroll, and Marcella Woodbine. He leaves behind his wife, Pauline, two children, Terry and Greg, and three grandchildren, Sean, Mia, and Jack.

A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at Our Lady of Mercy Church at a date to be announced. Burial with military honors will be in the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Fisher House – a charitable organization that provides free housing for military families while loved ones are receiving long-term hospital treatment. 

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Posted 5/15/24

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Bruce Mastracchio
Bruce Mastracchio
May 18, 2024 7:28 am


May you have calm seas and fair winds on your journey. It was a pleasure knowing you and Pauline and family. In this life we do not always get to say/do those things often enough.
Elaine and I send our prayers to your family.

Bruce & Elaine Mastracchio


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