of Speaker Matthew J. Ryan
I attended two
very moving services in memory of Matthew J. Ryan, Speaker of
the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
The first was held at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Media, PA, on
April 8, the day after his body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda
in Harrisburg. Matt is the first person to be so honored since
Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The service was attended by over 150 members
of the General Assembly and by Governor Rendell and three past
Commonwealth governors including Homeland Security Secretary Tom
Ridge. The second service was in the magnificent Chamber of the
House of Representatives in the State Capitol on April 14, a stone's
throw from the architecturally distinguished Speaker Matthew J.
Ryan Legislative Office Building, a tribute by his colleagues in
every branch of State Government.
I am delighted
to report that Matt's name will
now grace the facade of yet another building, one perhaps as close
to his heart as the one on Capitol Hill. Last February, the University
Trustees resolved that VHUP be renamed as the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Almanac February 25, 2003). This is the first time a building
on the Penn campus has been named for a state
politician since Benjamin Franklin.
Why was Matt Ryan honored in such an remarkable
way and why did we change the name of the small animal hospital?
At both memorial services, the tributes were uniform in their outpouring
of love and respect for Matt, he was revered by everyone on both
sides of the aisle and his skills in leadership in the House are
the stuff of legend. Matt loved the House of Representatives and
did everything in his power to see that legislation was passed
that brought the greatest benefit to the citizens of Pennsylvania.
He was a brilliant leader with a steady finger on the pulse of
the legislative agenda, he had a mischievous Irish wit and, despite
his enormous power in Harrisburg, was among the most humble men
you could ever wish to meet.
I needed advice, I would call and ask him out for lunch. Matt's favorite place was a rather seedy
little caf„ near his Media law office, where he would always have
a chicken salad sandwich. Lunch never cost more than $5 and was
fascinating as he shared advice that involved millions of dollars.
Matt loved the
School and he loved his black Labrador, Magic; he probably would
have been happiest if we had renamed VHUP
as Magic's Hospital but this name could be too easily taken amiss.
Matt was a humanist who cared deeply about the people of Pennsylvania
and he readily understood that veterinary medicine was of enormous
importance to the Commonwealth's number one industry, agriculture.
He was very proud of the School and supported it in every way he
could during more than three decades of leadership. Our current
pre-eminence in veterinary medicine is a testament to Matt's unwavering
community, in expressing its admiration and affection for Matt
Ryan, is honored to have his name associated
with its Veterinary Hospital, an institution dedicated to serving
the people of Pennsylvania, Matt's people. We cherish his memory
and miss him enormously.
--Alan M. Kelly, The Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine
here for the article "Ryan Veterinary Hospital".