LAKE PLACID - This community is mourning the death of a beloved civic leader and dedicated volunteer.
Dennis Ryan, of Clifton Park, died unexpectedly Monday morning, according to his brother-in-law Daniel Farr. An employee at NPA Financial LLC in Clifton Park, where Ryan worked as a financial advisor, also confirmed the death.
Saratoga County Coroner John DeMartino confirmed the death was a suicide but declined to discuss the case any further.
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Dennis Ryan poses in front of the Olympic cauldron in Lake Placid, which he took the lead in restoring. When he submitted this photo to the Lake Placid News in November 2010, he said, “This is really the most important photo of my life.”
The Saratoga County Sheriff's Department did not provide any information about the death.
Word of Ryan's death had spread across Lake Placid by Monday evening, although the original sources of it weren't clear. Monday night's Lake Placid village Board of Trustees meeting was overshadowed by the news of Ryan's death. Mayor Craig Randall said he had just seen Ryan over the weekend.
"When I heard about it, I was in total shock," Randall said. "This was unexpected. Dennis towers in Lake Placid. He was Mr. Lake Placid - a mainstay of ceremonial events. I know he loved and enjoyed every single moment."
"God bless him and his family," Trustee Jason Leon said.
Randall said Ryan will be missed for his spirit of volunteerism. Village officials will begin considering ways to memorialize him "and the good things he's done," Randall said.
Randall said he dined with Ryan recently at the Mirror Lake Inn, where Ryan hosted a guest chef night. Randall said he spoke about creating a committee to help carry on July 4 celebrations in Lake Placid.
Ryan was scheduled to serve as master of ceremonies at the Musicians Unite concert in Lake Placid on Saturday.
Trustee Art Devlin said Ryan will always be remembered for his selflessness.
"Dennis stood tall, no question about it," Randall added.
Ted Blazer, president and CEO of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, said in a prepared statement that "there are a thousand things to be said, but right now our prayers and thoughts are with Barb and the family."
Born in Saranac Lake and raised on Upper Chateaugay Lake, Ryan worked as a commentator for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. He was also creator and producer of the Olympic Radio Network and served on the Lake Placid delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984 and in Calgary in 1988.
Ryan also served as chairman of the board for the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau, which is now the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. He started the annual Set the Night to Music event in 1999, which featured fireworks choreographed to music on the radio during July 4 celebrations.
Ryan was the founder of the J. Bernard Fell Olympic Torch Restoration Committee and led efforts to light the torch on opening day of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Ryan helped Joe Lamb organize Worldfest, which started in 2009, and also served on the fundraising committee for the Empire State Winter Games. Last year, he was master of ceremonies for the Festival of the Games, an ESWG event held at the village beach on Mirror Lake.
In 2010, Ryan was named Lake Placid's Distinguished Volunteer of the Year.
"I volunteer because it's the right thing to do," Ryan said at the time. "I'm honored and humbled to be recognized. Lake Placid is such a unique place. There is such a large group of dedicated and incredibly talented people that come together to make things happen. The volunteer work here is just above and beyond anywhere else."