Peter Michael Ryan

Date of Birth

July 30, 1956

Date of Death

June 24, 2021

Sun-worshipper and native of Santa Barbara, Peter was one of 11 children born to Mike and Lucille Ryan. He was the first son in the birth order after his six sisters. This position dictated much of his status and stature, making him a leader and a standout. He always stepped up—helping others with their projects, becoming a chairperson, the foreman of a job, and always supporting unions. He died of cardiac arrest on the tennis court, doing what he loved doing most, finishing his final match.

Peter followed his Father’s trade as an electrician and became a Journeyman in 1980. He worked in the I.B.E.W. union for 20 years until retraining to become a Building Inspector. He worked at UCSB in that capacity for 18 years. Peter was very proud of “his” buildings and would often take visitors on tours of his many job sites at UCSB. Visitors were sure to end up on a roof somewhere either looking at the ocean or viewing a completed building he had worked on. At lunchtime at UCSB, Peter preferred to play tennis. He often left meetings early, saying he had an appointment, so that he could meet his partners on the tennis court.

Somewhere along in his career, Peter got the nickname “Mad Dog”. This exemplified the speed, energy and intensity with which he worked. He did this with his career, taking on special training in alternative energy, water technologies and business management. At home, he tackled cooking, baking and remodeling with enthusiasm. Peter’s passion and gusto followed him into retirement where he played tennis 3-4 times a week, went to the gym, worked on house projects, worked on art projects, and rode his electric bike. During the last year, he logged 2000 miles on his bike.

Peter was also a member of the United Lodge of Theosophists and the Institute of World Culture for many years which informed his philosophy of life and foundation for spiritual ethics and a profound sense of honor. Here he found life-long friendships, including his wife, Susan, whom he cherished. They were married for 42 years.

He was at heart a very community-oriented person, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, and the Organic Soup Kitchen. One of his favorite community involvements was joining with other electricians and friends to light the Tree of Light on Carrillo and Chapala Streets each Christmas season.

As the eldest of five sons, Peter naturally assumed the role of keeping the family informed once his parents passed, sending group emails with hilarious stories and jokes, updates, and birthdays reminders, signing all his correspondence with “Uncle Peter”.

Peter was a great story-teller. He was quick to laugh and liked a good joke. He had a file in his desk filled with jokes. He remembered his dreams vividly and would recount them at length. He loved traveling and was eager to see everything and do everything the new encounter offered. Peter’s talent for creating art developed only a few years ago, but he was a natural. He worked with acrylics, resin, tile, wood and clay. Along these lines, he appreciated the arts, accompanying Susan to multitudes of receptions, artist studio tours, dance concerts, building tours and lectures on historical architecture.

In addition to his wife, he leaves his sons, Branden and Ash (Tracy) and grandchildren, Archer, True and Levi. His sisters, Kathleen (Petrini), Suzanne Roth (Bob), Patricia Hlinka (Ken), Theresa Ryan (Chris Bush), Michele Ryan and Mary Ryan; brothers, Bob Ryan (Michelle), Tim Ryan (Danette) and Tom Ryan (Abbi); plus Diane and Tom Piskulic, sister and brother in laws. He also leaves numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. His brother, Paul, preceded him in death last September. It was a great loss to everyone and especially to Peter.

To remember Peter you may donate to Heal the Ocean of Santa Barbara, 1430 Chapala Street, 93101. A celebration of life is planned for November.


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