Cy Ryan, the straight-shooting reporter who was, for decades, dean of Nevada’s Capitol Press Corp, died Thursday.
He was 88.
Born Robert Ryan in 1932, coworkers at Harold’s Club nicknamed him Cy after the Kentucky Derby winning race horse Citation because he was so slow as a bartender.
He worked there while attending the University of Nevada School of Journalism. Ryan found his niche in Journalism when United Press International hired him in 1960 and a year later, moved him to Carson City where he opened the UPI Capital Bureau.
After UPI went bankrupt and closed the bureau in 1999, Ryan went to work for former Gov. Mike O’Callaghan who had taken an executive position at the Las Vegas Sun. He stayed with the Sun until that newspaper too closed its Carson City Bureau, forcing his retirement.
He covered state government and the Legislature for more than 50 years and through more than 30 regular and special legislative sessions. During his career, he covered every Nevada governor from Grant Sawyer through Brian Sandoval retiring as Steve Sisolak prepared to take office.
Ryan was known as a tough street reporter unafraid to ask any question he believed was important to a news story. His philosophy was get it first, but first get it right.
He developed a strong dislike for technology that has since taken over in many newsrooms. He took notes by hand on the backs of old Supreme Court orders on a battered clipboard. The Sun eventually sent him a cellphone, which remained in its box, in his desk in the basement of the Capital until he left the Sun and sent it back to Las Vegas.
He was born in California and grew up in Burlingame. His father had died of cancer and his mother, unable to care for him full-time, sent him to a Catholic boarding school in Berkley from third through the eighth grade. Then he went to Sacramento where he graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1950.
He moved to Reno to stay with his mother and stepfather but, unable to find work, joined the Navy and served during the Korean War.
After that, he returned to Reno and got a job driving cab, then bartending, while attending university. In his senior year, he won a national contest to write an editorial about South America. He was one of three students who won a trip to Cuba. While the other two declined the trip, he went to Cuba just after Fidel Castro took over. When he returned, he was fired by Harold’s Club for going to Communist Cuba.
Ryan was married to his first wife Barbara for 12 years before they divorced. He then married Linda, who rose in state government to administrator of the Welfare Division.
They were married 27 years before Linda died of severe heart problems on a 1999 flight to Paris to take part in the Bicentennial celebration.
After her death, Ryan returned to the Catholic Church that he said helped him through that emotional trauma
Ryan will be cremated and his ashes interred with Linda's.