NSBA Mourns the Passing of Shirley Ryan

Posted on October 10, 2016 in

It is with heavy hearts and regret that we inform the NSBA membership of the sudden passing of Shirley Ryan on October 10, 2016.

Shirley was the Executive Director of the NSBA from 1990 until her retirement on December 31, 2009. Shirley was a fiery, passionate, quick-minded, opinionated woman who not only led the organization for two decades, but helped bring it into a coming of age. As a sharp-tongued and diminutive advocate for business – and the NSBA membership in particular – Shirley was a memorable figure head for the organization for which she became synonymous.

Shirley took any issue that the NSBA deemed worthy of fighting against or advocating for, the only way she knew how – head on. Regardless of the issue, you could be assured that in doing so, Shirley would inflect her unique and effective style. Shirley had a no-holds-barred approach, which was accentuated by her red hair, red lipstick and red shoes. Her persona was even further punctuated by her well-known affection for cigarettes and whiskey, which many people mistakenly assumed was Scotch.

“Shirley was larger than life, and she never failed to live up to expectations,” said Keith Moen, Executive Director of the NSBA. “She had a well-deserved reputation for tenacity, passion, quick wit and a sharp tongue. She was a wonderful advocate for the NSBA membership and business overall. She made her mark in Saskatoon and we are a stronger community because of her.”

“You certainly didn’t want to be on the wrong side of her,” Moen continues, adding, “She also was one of the kindest, sincerest and sweetest ladies you could ever meet. She had a heart of gold. She touched many lives and she will be missed, without question.”

Shirley had a passion for politics and business, and some of her most prolific work combined the two. While leading the NSBA, her counsel was regularly sought by elected and administrative officials from civic, provincial and national governments. At her retirement party, which had over 600 people in attendance, Shirley proudly declared that the formation of the Saskatchewan Party took place in her very own living room.

Shirley was inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame in 2003, was a recipient of the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal in 2005, the Raj Manek Mentorship Program’s Above and Beyond Award in 2007, and the Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. The NSBA honoured her with the first-ever Shirley Ryan Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, an annual award which continues to bear her name out of honour and respect for her.

Shirley is survived by her husband, Bill, and sons Peter (Vicki) and Robert (Roxanne). A memorial service is being held Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 2:00pm in Prairieland Park. Arrangements are being handled by Saskatoon Funeral Home.

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