Brooklyn mourns Herb Ryan, civic leader, attorney, military officer

Also ran for NYC Assembly and Congress in the 1960s

June 24, 2022 Jaime DeJesus,
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The Southwest Brooklyn civic and legal communities are mourning Herb Ryan — an attorney, Korean War veteran, former New York City first deputy clerk and major general in the New York State Guard — who died on Friday, June 17 at age 90.

Ryan was appointed first deputy clerk for New York City in 1975, when David Dinkins, later elected mayor of New York City, served as the city clerk. Ryan retired from the position in 1987.

Ryan was also a Republican and Conservative Party candidate for the New York State Assembly in 1964 and for Congress in 1966, according to information provided by the Dennis J. O’Connor Inc. funeral home. In both political contests, he sought to represent a Bay Ridge-area district.

In addition, Ryan was also an attorney, adjutant professor at St. John’s University, assistant district attorney with the Kings County-Rackets Bureau, deputy commissioner of the NYC Department of Licenses, deputy commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, and appointment as general counsel of the NYC Department of Traffic.

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“My father taught us to be civic-minded and not to sit on the sidelines of life and to give back to the community by getting off the bench and into the game and not leave it to other people to carry the load,” his son Stephen told this paper.

Kings County Conservative Party Chairperson Frances Vella-Marrone commented on his passing:

“I was sad to learn of the passing of Herb Ryan,” she told the Eagle. “For many years. he resided with his family in Dyker Heights. Herb led a life of distinction and service. His long and distinguished military career, years as a public servant and candidacy for public office is an example of a life of service to his country and community.”

He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in 1986, then commanded the 9th and 14th Regiments of the New York Guard.

Ryan was promoted to major general shortly before retiring in 2003. All three of his sons served in Iraq and Afghanistan as Army Reserve officers.

“His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service medals to include the Combat Infantryman badge along with the Special Forces Tab and Senior Parachutists badge,” read his obituary at

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, the former Anne Ford; his children Nancy, Stephen, Andrew and David; and grandchildren Thomas, Caitlyn, Brianna, Adit and Shaun.

He was born in Long Branch, N.J. on August 10, 1931. Although he was a resident of Breezy Point, Queens he also lived in Dyker Heights for many years.

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