Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

Ex-attorney general's son dies in apparent suicide
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff
print story
email story
Published: 10/8/2007 11:12 PM

Send To:





The youngest son of former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan has died in an apparent suicide, the latest heartbreak for a family whose blessings are matched by tragedy.

Police said Patrick J. Ryan died Sunday in his parents' Elmhurst home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 24.

Twenty-four hours later, the close-knit family gathered away from the home with friends to comfort each other.

In a statement, they said: "Patrick was a loving son, caring brother and a compassionate uncle.

"He was the joy of our life."

Police rushed to the home at 6:36 p.m. Sunday after receiving a 911 call. The couple's daughter Amy, who was waiting outside, said her brother was inside alone with a handgun.

A police negotiator reached Patrick Ryan, who in a brief telephone conversation agreed to cooperate. Minutes later, officers entered the home and found the young man dead.

His death is the latest blow for a well-known family that has endured more than its share of tragedy.

Jim Ryan fought and beat cancer three times. Months after his initial diagnosis, the couple's freckle-faced 12-year-old daughter Annie, the youngest of six children, died Jan. 18, 1997, from an undiagnosed brain tumor.

Later that year, Ryan's wife, Marie, battled a mysterious virus that initially appeared to be a heart attack.

"My heart goes out to them," said state Sen. John Millner, a longtime friend. "They're just good, honest people who have endured well beyond what any family should have to experience."

Jim Ryan started in rough-and-tumble DuPage Republican politics after being elected state's attorney, beginning in 1984, building name recognition among voters before setting his sights on Springfield.

He served for two terms as Illinois attorney general until 2003, when he lost a hard-fought gubernatorial bid against Rod Blagojevich. Afterward, Ryan began teaching and lecturing at Benedictine University, his alma mater, and joined the Naperville law firm of one of his other sons.

A funeral Mass for Patrick Ryan will be said at 11 a.m. Thursday at Visitation Catholic Church in Elmhurst.

"The parents are wonderful, faith-filled people," the Rev. Joseph Siegel said. "I can't imagine everything they've been through, but certainly the Lord and our prayers are with them."

After Thursday's funeral, Patrick Ryan will be buried at the same Hillside cemetery as his little sister Annie, with whom he was closest in age. Since her death, the family has raised more than $500,000 to put toward children's brain tumor research.

Another longtime friend, Gary Schira, the Batavia police chief, recalled Monday how Ryan's faith helped sustain them through illness and loss. Schira said he's never heard his friend say, "Why me?"

Jim Ryan echoed that sentiment in a Daily Herald interview less than two weeks after Annie's death.

"I don't feel singled out," he said. "I do feel lucky, in that, as a public figure, I've had a lot of support other people wouldn't have.

"It's easy to get mad at God, but ultimately, I don't believe that. I'd like to think I'm a person of faith, and all you can do is turn to your family and to your faith to try to sustain you."

After some reflection, he added: "Stay close to your kids. You'll never know how long you'll have them."