Longtime Key Reporter Editor, Barbara Ryan

Barbara Ryan photo

Barbara Anne Haddad Ryan was born on December 18, 1937, and went on to set the world on fire with her brilliant mind and beautiful Spirit. She died on September 30 and lives on boldly by the lives she touched.

Ryan lived a fascinating and rich life. From a very young age she excelled in everything that allowed her mind to experience the intensely intellectual instrument that it was. She graduated with honors from Swarthmore College outside of Philadelphia and subsequently went on to do the same at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

Journalism, indeed, was among her true loves. Throughout her life Ryan would savor any piece of prose she could get her hands on, but it was those pieces that she authored which allowed for her highly distinguished and respected career as a journalist for The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. As a leading practitioner of her art, Ryan was able to create and carefully craft the telling of events that she knew would change lives… including her own.

Ryan lived in Denver for more than 30 years and served on a number of boards and councils while raising her family and breaking just about every glass ceiling she encountered. She was proud of her Lebanese heritage and for good reason. Ryan served in public relations leadership roles at The Colorado School of Mines, and she also was on the faculty at Metro State University’s Department of Journalism in Denver. Ryan was well known for her shrewd op-eds that peppered so many of the primary papers over the years as a Wonder Woman watch dog of particularly public policy. Nothing got past her, and she made sure the world knew it in fierce yet elegant ways.

Later in life Ryan moved back to Philadelphia where she went on to become the associate vice president of her alma mater, Swarthmore College. Thereafter, she ultimately finished her career in Washington, D.C., as Phi Beta Kappa’s public relations director and editor of The Key Reporter.

Ryan returned to Denver for an encore residency, but this time as a retiree. Retirement did not sit well with her, however, and she soon moved to Cary, North Carolina, for one of her favorite roles as Grandma while remaining active and engaged in social justice committees and community affairs. 

Ryan is survived by her two children, daughters Anne Ryan and Jennifer Pillay. Jennifer and her husband Poobie Pillay are parents to Barbara’s only grandchild, Cheralise Pillay, whom – like her Grandmother – will go on to set the world on fire with her brilliant mind and beautiful spirit.

A memorial service will be held on November 6 at her church, Western Boulevard Presbyterian, in Raleigh, North Carolina. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting that donations be made in Barbara Ryan’s honor to the charity of their choice.