Valley Lives - Doug (1) Ryan

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the January 20, 2010 issue. Reprinted with permission.

He was Hills' knight in muddy tow truck

by Trevor Greenway

Doug Ryan helped people. No matter if it was 4 p.m. or 4 a.m., if you were stuck in a ditch, Ryan would show up in his Ryan's Garage tow truck and pull you out, no questions asked.

"It could be someone who just had too many beers or a doctor," said Ryan's long-time friend Larry Ward of Rupert. "He went out there when he had to." Even if you didn't have money to pay for a tow truck, Ryan would be there, ready to work. He could never leave anybody stranded on the side of the road. It just wasn't his style.

Ryan died Jan. 10 after a year-and-a-half battle with stomach cancer. He was 66-years-old. According to friends and family, Ryan didn't really have much time to grieve the loss of his own wife Maxine Ryan, who also died of cancer in late 2008, as he was diagnosed with terminal cancer just a month later.

"He never got to grieve," said brother-in-law Erroll Monette. "He had to fight his own cancer." As soon as Doug was diagnosed, he immediately said, "What's next? I'm not done fighting." Not a surprising response from a hard-working man.

As far back as Monette can remember, Doug was always around, as he started dating Monette's older sister Maxine in high school. The two were high school sweethearts who later got married and started a life together in Alcove. He was usually found at his dad's garage, eventually taking it over from his father Harvey. "He loved being in a tow truck," said his younger brother John. "That was his life." John said it was the "helping people aspect" of the business that really made Doug tick. If a driver had a bad accident and was in shock, Doug was the man to call, not only to get the car back on the road, but he had the ability to calm drivers down and let them know that all would be okay. "That's really what he enjoyed," said John.

Sitting in the garage with the 'good old boys,' the conversations would usually revolve around big trucks and fast cars, two of Doug's main loves in life, aside from his wife Maxine and his German shepherd dogs. "In a movie, it would be like the barber shop where everyone came in and just talked about tow trucks and race cars," said Monette.

Doug had many friends in the Gatineau Hills and he made more friends daily by pulling them out of the ditches. With his own group of friends he'd drive race cars and boats, said Ward, one of his "boating buddies". Doug really loved loud engines, big trucks and fast cars.

That's why his funeral procession Jan. 14 to Holy Cross Church in Fieldville was so fitting. His casket carefully laid on the Ryan's Garage ramp truck, Doug was led on a last tour through Brennan's Hill. His escort that followed included a fleet of three Ryan's tow trucks and a pair of Wakefield Fire trucks, as Doug also served as a volunteer fire fighter for many years in Wakefield.

Doug and Maxine did their best to give back to the communities of La Peche and Low, donating to various projects including the Masham arena and the construction of the Low arena.

He is survived by his brothers John, Mark and Denis Ryan, his mother-in-law Mona Monette, sister-in-law Doreen Monette and his brothers-in-law Frank, Bill, Mark and Erroll Monette.

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