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Obituary: Charles Edward “Digger” Ryan Jr.

 As received from the Ryan Funeral Home:

Charles Edward “Digger” Ryan Jr., age 87, of Laurium, passed away on Sunday, January 3, 2021 at U.P. Health System-Portage.

Charles was born April 27, 1933, son of the late Charles Edward and Stephanie (Kobe) Ryan of Calumet, Michigan.

He attended and graduated from Sacred Heart Catholic Schools.  As a high school student, Charles lettered in basketball and was selected to help build Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church in Copper Harbor, Michigan. His involvement in building the church was an honor of which he was proud.

A veteran of the U. S. Army, Charles served as an MP (Military Police) during the Korean War from 1953-1955.

He married Marilyn Szymanski in 1964 and they had four daughters.

Charles graduated from the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science. After his graduation, Charles worked with numerous local funeral homes, with lifelong support for the family business, Ryan Funeral Home. Additionally, he was employed by Mercy Ambulance and Superior Vault Company. Charles was the owner of Lakeview Monument Company.

He was employed by the United States Postal Service as a mail carrier and retired as the beloved postmaster of Ahmeek, Michigan.

Charles was a founding member of the CLK Sports Booster Club, a member and past exalted ruler of Calumet Elks Lodge 404, the Keweenaw Sportsmen’s Club, VFW, American Legion Post 61, and Sacred Heart Church.

Charles enjoyed many friendships, including those he treasured as a member of the Wednesday Night Men’s Book Study and the Keweenaw Auto Body Coffee Club.

Charles was preceded in death by his parents; dear sister, Mary Pat Ryan; and sister-in-law, Marguerite Ryan.

He is survived by his wife of 16 years, Donna (Kilpela) Ryan; daughters Kelly Ryan (Chad Dove) of Nekoosa, Wisconsin; Amy Ryan of Henderson, Nevada; Kristen Ryan of Verona, Italy; and Anne (Casey) Polkinghorne of Houghton Michigan. Charles is survived by seven grandchildren who meant the world to him: Samuel James Lucas, Margret Ryan Feldt, Andrew Charles Lucas, Jordy Quade Taylor, Jack Joharran Taylor, Elise Casey Polkinghorne, and Nora Anne Polkinghorne.

Charles is further survived by a brother, John; nephews John, Robert and David Ryan; nieces Mary Straneva and Patty Ryan; and his wife Donna’s children: Kim Suhonen, Kay Young, Kelly Lukima, and Kristen Crawley.

Special thank you to homecare workers Cherie, Rita, Ellen, Hans, and Sue; the nurses and care team at UP Health System-Portage; and Dr. Thomas McConnon, Dr. Timothy LaBonte, and Dr. Lori Vaughan.

Charles was a man who exemplified kindness, generosity, and respect for all. He never hesitated to lend a hand to anyone in need.  He loved his family deeply and was a man of great faith.

A funeral mass will be held on Monday, January 11, 2021 at 11:00 am at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Calumet, Michigan. Covid-19 social distancing and face masks will be required.

Graveside services will be held on Friday, June 4, 2021 at 11:00 A.M. at Lake View Cemetery in Calumet at Section E-1. Reverend Father Gracious Pulimoottil MCBS of Sacred Heart Church will be the celebrant, followed by an Elk’s ceremony, and military honors from the Copper country Veterans Association.

Online condolences for the family may be left at www.ryanfuneralhome.com.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please consider a contribution to the CLK Sports Booster Club, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church, or a charity of your choice.

“If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.” Bishop Robert South

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