Ex-Gov. Ryan writing book that might worry ‘former top state leaders’
By MICHAEL SNEED email@example.com May 21, 2013 6:18PM
George Ryan | AP
Updated: June 23, 2013 6:38AM
Former Gov. George Ryan, who has been on his best behavior since he was released from a six-year federal prison term in January, is doing it by the book — he’s penning his memoirs.
“It’s going to be a no holds barred book and he is planning to tell it like it is,” said his son, Homer.
“Dad’s hard at work writing it, has a co-author, and tells me it’s going to be a humdinger,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say a few former top state leaders might be a little worried.”
Sneed is told that Ryan, who fought for a new trial while serving prison time on corruption charges, spends his time “talking to old political friends and allies by phone” while sifting through old files and letters kept at his family home in Kankakee — and making his weekly trek to Chicago to check in with his halfway house resident adviser.
“He carries around a tape recorder and every time he remembers a story or a vignette he spits it out,” said a source. “He’s been in politics for 40 years so he has a lot of stories to tell and is in the market for a publisher.”
Meanwhile, Ryan divides his time between his 107-year-old home, which he and wife, Lura Lynn, bought 48 years ago, and working at his son’s insurance company.
“He’s been planting flowers around the house this spring and mowing the lawn,” the source added. “He hired someone this year to power-wash his porch, which is something he always liked to do as his family chore. He misses his wife a lot.”
Lura Lynn Ryan was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis shortly after her husband went to prison and died of lung cancer before his prison release.
“He has paid a severe price: The loss of his wife and brother while he was in the penitentiary; the loss of his pension, his office, his good name and 5 1/2 years of imprisonment,” said Ryan’s lawyer, former Gov. Jim Thompson, shortly after Ryan’s release.
After Ryan’s release from a Salvation Army halfway house in Chicago, he was presented with his wife’s ashes in an urn an hour after returning home.
Sneed is told Lura Lynn’s urn is still there.
“Mom’s urn is next to her mother’s ashes on the mantle,” said Homer. “Dad has been sorting through her clothes and bundling them up for charity. It hasn’t been easy.”
Ryan’s grandson, Michael Pignotti, temporarily resides with his grandfather and members of Ryan’s extended family help out with family chores.
“Having Dad home is an absolute joy you can’t imagine,” said Homer, the Ryan’s youngest child and only son, who fought hard to gain his father’s release from prison.
“Mom was a wonderful woman and they had a wonderful life together. Her influence hasn’t waned. She left a lasting impression on all of us.”
Meanwhile, Ryan can’t drive and is planning to get his driver’s license renewed.
“We’re going to the grocery store right now to get some stuff for the grill and get ready for all 29 of us going to Dad’s house for Memorial Day.
“We joke that on Dad’s new income all he can afford is Spam and Swiss cheese.”
Sneedlings. . .
Wednesday’s birthdays: Naomi Campbell, 43; Novak Djokovic, 26; Morrissey, 54, and belated wishes to Jane McNamara, 100, and Judge Frank DeBoni, ageless.