In Memoriam - Pat Ryan
Pat Ryan was a courageous individual who fought very hard to beat his battle with cancer. He faced this challenge with his usual tenacity and positive attitude, but he was sadly unable to overcome it.
Pat became the third PES Executive Director in 2007 and was a driving force in transforming PES into the second-largest society within the IEEE. He had a relentless focus on the IEEE and PES Mission & Vision and a strong belief that there needed to be significant volunteer engagement to pursue anything new. Pat was recently selected as the 2020 recipient of the IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award “for leadership in creating a successful model for IEEE and Society memberships by fostering member value and partnerships with volunteers.”
No matter how good an idea was, Pat would not pursue it unless there was significant volunteer engagement. He clearly held the volunteers at the core of the organization. Under his leadership as executive director, Pat drove several significant achievements for PES, including:
- Changed the name of the society from IEEE Power Engineering Society to the IEEE Power & Energy Society to better reflect the PES Mission & Vision
- Increased PES membership from 22,000 in 2006 to more than 40,000 by the end of 2019
- Developed business processes which helped increased PES Reserves which enabled the society to create and establish humanitarian programs
- Founded the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative which has distributed more than 1,500 scholarships to undergraduate students
- Launched the IEEE PES Resource Centers which provide practical content and educational courses to industry professionals
- Supported the development of the IEEE Smart Village program which integrates sustainable electricity, education, and entrepreneurial solutions to empower off-grid communities
- Established four new publications to meet the growing demand of PES membership - The Transactions on Smart Grid; The Transactions on Sustainable Energy; Electrification Magazine; and The Open Access Journal of Power and Energy
- Expanded the portfolio of PES Conferences to a global audience and inaugurated Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conferences worldwide
- Fostered the development of the IEEE Smart Grid and IEEE Smart Cities programs
Among his coworkers, he is remembered as a friend and a person they felt fortunate to work with.
"I will personally miss our end of the day chats lasting well into the dinner hour and his ‘get it moving' attitude. He will truly be missed by all those who knew him."
—Mary Ward-Callan, Managing Director, Technical Activities & Patrick's manager
"I think the major impact was his relationship with the volunteers and staff. He created many partnerships with the volunteer leadership who made PES a better organization and these relationships often turned into friendships for himself and his wife. He built a great team within the Executive office. His presence will be greatly missed but his memory will live on in our efforts as we know he would want us to continue to make IEEE and PES a better organization."
—Dan Toland, director Power & Energy Society Operations
His obituary is available here. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation in Patrick Ryan's name can be made to IEEE Foundation, Memorial Sloan Kettering, or to the American Cancer Society.
Cards should be sent addressed to Mary Ward-Callan, IEEE Technical Activities, 445 Hoes Lanes, Piscataway, NJ 08854. All cards will be sent to the family.
PES Members and others can send condolences via email to email@example.com. These tributes will also be placed on the list below.
Tributes from Patrick's Family
About a week ago my Dad passed away after over a year of battling cancer. At first it didn’t seem appropriate to post anything on social media, but I’ve been reflecting a lot and I have some thoughts to share about my Dad that might help someone else. I learned a lot from my Dad: I learned how to fish, how to identify different birds, to be nice to the people I meet, and how to laugh, even if the situation stinks.
I was able to go with him and my Mom to his first chemo appointment; he wore a Hawaiian shirt and the receptionist didn’t believe he was sick. A looming fear and nausea surrounded me like a heavy winter coat as we waited, until he leaned over to me and said “should I act more upset?” And then gave me a comical frown; we had to stifle our laughter in the waiting room of the cancer ward. We took a photo of both of us smiling once he was hooked up and he said, after cracking a few more jokes, “this is not a façade, this is the real Pat Ryan.” Before that day, I was absolutely terrified.
I felt paralyzed by the situation, but after laughing together while the world was crumbling around us, I knew even if it wasn’t okay, I was going to be okay.
In an unprecedented, absolutely abysmal time, it seems impossible to get through another day without the humor that I inherited from my Dad. To all those who had the pleasure of meeting him, know that you’re in my thoughts; let’s laugh about the good times we got to have together because he wouldn’t have it any other way.-Bridget Ryan
My father, Patrick Ryan, my dad - it’s hard to know how to refer to him now that he’s gone. The process of understanding all the ways he’s left an imprint on my life will continue until I pass away, but now is a time to reflect on some of the ways. My dad always made the best of his circumstances, a trait that remained fully in effect throughout his fight with cancer. From working several jobs to put himself through college in far-northern Wisconsin to turning a machinist job into a hydroelectricity expert path at Woodward early in his career, my father had a positive attitude and went all-in on the road to giving himself and his family the best lives & experiences he could muster. We moved several times growing up, and he spent a lot of time in China and traveling - he and my mom brought us up in a complimentary partnership that seemed to suit both of their personalities. He believed in hard work, kindness, and ethics in everything he did and communicated.
Every morning, on my way out the door to school, he would say “Be good to the people you meet”. His approach was not prescriptive - he didn’t trot out recommendations about what I should be when I grew up (other than a few sidelong comments about the relative worth of “basket-weaving” art classes). Be friendly, put in the effort - a simple, Swiss Army Knife life philosophy that I never fully appreciated until I learned more about how other people raise their kids.
My father loved to brag that he had only read a single book in the last thirty years. He badgered me until I, too, read Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists (Luigi Zingales and Raghuram Rajan). He believed systems that had effective rules, engaged members, and clear purposes could deliver extraordinary outcomes for the humans involved. When he found IEEE after a multi-faceted career that included various levels of personal work satisfaction, it gave me something to believe in - to find work that benefits people, fully leverages one’s talents, and where your contribution is appreciated is a magical and often-frustrated career dream. “If you really want the job, write a hand-written note to the people who interviewed you” is another Pat Ryan nugget worth paying attention to - after a year of introspection and career-soul-searching, my dad found the job he would do until he died.
For him to be recognized with the Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member award this year was the perfect conclusion to an amazing story that he’s helped to write at IEEE (and that I’m confident will continue in his absence). The outpouring of support, condolences, and stories from the organization has been a consolation during these challenging months for our family. Thank you, from me, to all the friends, colleagues and volunteers who have gotten in touch, supported my mom, and shared your experiences with my dad. This unbelievably difficult time has felt lighter with your support.-Roman Ryan
In the end, organizations are not about the bylaws they follow or the structures they maintain, but the people whose talents and character imbue them with life. For thirteen years, Pat Ryan was the executive director of IEEE PES, where he was a driving force in allowing a volunteer organization to achieve its highest potential in helping the industry. He understood how industries evolve, and aligned the goals of IEEE PES to support our society’s larger goals in becoming more resilient, sustainable and equitable. Through it all, he was approachable to all; a mentor to students, and a respected peer to industry executives. He was a great engineer and a wonderful person whose commitment to the diversity of the field made it richer and more worthwhile. Though his presence will be missed, his impact will be felt by those who counted him as a friend as well as those whom he benefited from afar.
The news about Pat's untimely passing saddened all of us who worked with him and knew him well. His commitment to IEEE and PES brought about the largest membership growth in decades and accompanied it with stable and growing society finances. He was particularly dedicated to student members and always looked for opportunities to get them more involved in IEEE. On a personal level, he was jovial and trusting, but also supportive and trustworthy. He made thousands of acquaintances across the globe and many among them became his personal friends. His work catalyzed initiatives and endeavors of all of us who were involved in PES leadership. Pat is no longer with us, but the results of his many projects, his resourcefulness, his human qualities, and his dedication to IEEE will long outlive him.
I always admired how Pat never judged or forced his opinions on anyone, but offered valuable and truthful advice that I will surely miss. Even during his illness, he always remained positive and was a pillar of strength and motivation around us. I know one of the things he cared about so much and kept him going - our beloved Power & Energy Society. Particularly, he was instrumental, guiding the Society to go through the unprecedented pandemic times from March 2020 until the PES General Meeting ended in August.
Pat was a wonderful human being. It was always a joy to work in the presence of Pat. I will never forget the warmth his smile brought to each meeting. He truly was one of a kind and we all miss him and feel a void. Pat cherished life and was an example of how we all should embrace, live, laugh and love. His beautiful spirit will live on.
Forever Remembered, Forever Missed!
I am very saddened by the passing of a friend, Pat Ryan. Thank you to IEEE for recognizing Pat with the Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award. I knew Pat from the day he started at IEEE in April, 2007. He was my replacement as ED PES.
Before the pandemic, Pat and I had discussed his many challenges for his future health at many recent TAB Meetings. I was as optimistic about his future as he was.
Pat became a force within the IEEE PES and it showed in the success of the Society. During Pat's tenure the PES flourished.
As others have said, my thoughts and prayers are for his family during this time. Pat will always be in a special spot for me.
The news shocked me, and a deep sadness came over me. It took me some time to realize and be able to react. It is so devastating. I have known Pat for a long time but as treasurer, I have been working with him very closely and I can tell you it was always a great pleasure. Beyond an extraordinary professional, his kindness is touching, his nature is generous and his politeness is unfailing. He never complains regardless of the difficulties encountered. I could count on him in all circumstances but also at all times. He was not counting his hours and gave me the impression (a reality) that he is dedicated body and soul to PES. His contribution to our community is immense!
I had sincerely hoped and believed that he would overcome the disease, I could not imagine any other way out, fate decided otherwise. May his soul be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven at the height of his greatness!
Dear friends, we have lost a great man, he will be sorely missed, I will miss him so much! My friendliest thoughts go to his family.
Patrick was a great leader of IEEE PES. Based on his competences and his friendly way to work with others for me he was always a first contact to discuss new ideas. His open mind and his experiences helped to find practical ways for the implementation of innovations. His successful work is reflected in the development of IEEE PES into a growing Society with future-orientated technical topics. His global view enlarged the boundaries of PES to new members in China, India, Africa, Latin-America and Europe, with numberless airplane travelling. Pat’s communicative way to motivate and convince people to get engaged in PES opened doors for many new experts from around the world. Their contributions as volunteers added benefit to IEEE PES.
Focused on the needs of industry and PES members Pat helped to develop clear views on conference schedules and technical topics under discussion. The Resource Centre is one central point to communicate PES business to a bright audience of interested people around the globe. The PES governing board reflects all these activities by being an international body, engaged with experts around the globe full of great ideas and passion to bring these ideas into work. This was often motivated and initiated by Patrick Ryan.
All the years in IEEE PES we met at many different locations around the world and it was always a great joy for me to see Pat and Patricia his wife. Pat and I had a lot in common, Pat was born in Nürnberg, Germany and I'm living there. So, we always had a point for a talk. He planned to come to Nürnberg to look for his roots.
Patricia, there are many nice memories in my mind on you and Pat.
They will be kept alive.
Losing Pat Ryan was especially devastating for me. I chaired the Search Committee in 2006-2007 during my IEEE PES Presidency that hired Pat in April 2007. I was the first IEEE PES President Pat worked with during the remainder of 2007, including his first Governing Board Meeting at the General Meeting in Tampa, the PowerAfrica Conference in Johannesburg, and his first ExCom Meeting in Beijing. Pat had a passion for change, and he was perfect for what IEEE PES needed in 2007. He was a quick study for the inner workings of both IEEE and PES and did a remarkable job in his new role from the first day. Pat had strong opinions for what PES should do, and was always looking for changes to improve PES. He was never a “steady state” kind of person!
In every relationship with others he represented and talked about PES. He was genuinely passionate about PES and strongly defended PES whenever this was needed. Pat and I would talk about family activities for a while but the discussion would quickly transition to some issue or aspect about PES. Pat was always thinking about growing and improving PES, and always had a strong opinion for every discussion – whether it was one-on-one or a group discussion.
Pat was good for IEEE PES. He made things happen. We will all miss him personally. He was a close friend. IEEE PES will miss his vision and passion for change and improvement. He left a strong legacy on IEEE PES in his 13+ years as Executive Director. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat’s family.
I am devastated to lose a friend and a colleague who has made huge contributions to IEEE. We should cherish accomplishments Pat has made, as it is not incidental that major growth of IEEE PES coincides with having Pat as Executive Director. He always had a clear vision on how best to engage volunteers and emphasized the importance of significant participation and leadership of volunteers in any activity. Pat proactively helped create a culture of strong teamwork between volunteers and staff that helped make IEEE PES so successful. He was instrumental in building bridges with other societies and organizations and provided leadership for the whole IEEE, earning him a prestigious IEEE Herz award.
When I became IEEE PES President, I was grateful to Pat for guiding me to do my role better and appreciated his openness that helped us reach common conclusions. IEEE was his passion and his dedication to his staff and our volunteers was unparalleled. He was a unique individual, with a deep understanding of IEEE organization and how to make it better, who I learnt a lot from. Pat understood both business and technical aspects that helped leading IEEE PES to new heights.
I have been privileged to call Pat a friend and we shared lots of great memories. We had opportunities, together with other IEEE colleagues, to visit different places around the globe and engage volunteers. We always had lots of fun and were proud of our accomplishments. I will miss him a lot.
I knew his name for many years but only in the past 24 months as part of Society Governing Board, Executive Committee, Finance Committee I had the opportunity to work with Pat. He made me feel neither I am new to him nor my problem as PES VP Publications was. He was always smiling, listening and supportive to me and all. He never gave me an impression that he was working for just PES, rather he was always serving a society in excess of 40000 PES members as well as IEEE. The more I write, the more I feel I am at a loss for words. A great PES officer and a gentleman- we shall miss you Pat. Rest in Peace.
It is both heartbreaking and devastating! It is not only a loss to the PES Governing Board and the PES staff in NJ, it is a loss to the global community of power engineers, educators and students. He cared so much for so many people and talked with equal interest to a young undergraduate or to a company president. He was a brave soul - took his illness with courage and optimism. He will remain an example for us. I will miss him dearly.
Pat Ryan’s passion for PES was unmatched. When he arrived at PES in 2007, Pat assisted a dedicated group of PES volunteers in putting together a strategic plan to grow PES, and to make it more profitable and successful. Pat then was tasked with the mission to implement that plan. Although that plan was tweaked and updated over the ensuing years, Pat’s drive was still the same—to make PES a profitable and successful society. The results are obvious. Staff was strategically reorganized and added to help achieve the desired results. Membership grew from 22,000 to over 40,000. PES financial reserves grew from about US$2.5 Million to nearly US$20 Million. But that was only part of the story. Pat’s vision, passion and support for programs like the PES Scholarship Fund, IEEE Smart Village, and the IEEE Resource Center, to name a few, have had a profound effect on students, PES members, electricity-poor international communities and many other entities at IEEE and around the world. We will sadly miss his drive, his advice and mentoring, and his vision of how to make PES even better. RIP Pat. We will strive to continue your legacy.
Pat’s passing is truly a tragedy for the power industry as a whole and especially for us in the IEEE and PES. He was a tireless advocate for IEEE and specifically for PES, especially for the volunteers. His insight into the organization and to the industry was second to none. He was so instrumental in strategic changes within PES, with the creation and curation of the PES Resource Center, and with the reorganization of the technical committees, adding the support we needed so the volunteers can do what they do best. Pat especially helped me navigate many aspects of not only PES but IEEE. He was always willing to explain the idiosyncrasies to me of whatever the situation was.
I feel myself lucky to have been able to work closely with such a gentleman and to learn from him. PES will not be the same without Pat’s vision and tenacity. I miss him already. Rest in peace Pat!
I have interacted with Pat since the time he took over as IEEE PES Executive Director from Bob Dent. Pat was outstanding and a joy to work with. I interacted with him on several occasions and on various issues related to PES. Pat’s pleasant personality, ready smile, and work ethic will serve as an example to all of us and he will be sorely missed.
I felt an instant connection with Pat from our first phone conversation in December 2009, when he interviewed me for the position of Sr. Administrator Education Services for PES. This feeling strengthened when we met in person a week later, so I was extremely happy to begin working for him on January 4, 2010. I worked for Pat for over 10 years and I still can’t believe he is gone. It has been a couple of weeks and it still seems surreal to look at the banner on this page and see that face I know so well paired with the announcement of his passing.
Pat was the best boss I ever had. I learned so much from him through the years, and was continually inspired by his passion and commitment to PES and IEEE. PES truly reached new heights during Pat’s tenure. Pat had this amazing ability to dive into and work the smallest details with great tenacity to ensure positive outcomes for PES, while at the same time see the grandest visions for PES and help to make them happen. I was truly in awe of his intelligence and the depth and breadth of his knowledge across all the many functional areas, programs and projects of PES. He never ceased to amaze me with what he could pull out of his head and use to teach, to solve a problem, to move things forward. Pat had the greatest admiration and respect for the volunteers and developed incredible relationships with them. He fostered deep relationships between the staff and the volunteers. Pat more than deserved to be the recipient of the 2020 IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award and I’m very glad that he received it. I think Pat embodies the IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award and Joyce E. Farrell IEEE Staff Award rolled into one!
Pat was also a great friend and I will really miss our conversations. There are so many things we talked about through the years, in so many places, from our offices, homes, airports, the many places we traveled for PES. I learned a lot from Pat personally in addition to professionally. He was a very interesting and insightful guy. I always enjoyed the family stories and I am so very sorry for Patty and the kids.
Goodbye my boss and my friend. I love you and miss you.
CARLO ALBERTO NUCCI
I have had the pleasure and privilege of working and interacting for quite a few years with Pat Ryan, IEEE PES Executive Director, while I was serving as IEEE PES Region 8 Rep. A real gentleman, extremely skilled and professionally outstanding, who has been always able to turn complex issues into simple ones. His talent was clear as his kindness. A real loss for our community.
I met Pat when he came to PES as Executive Director and I was Vice President of Chapters and Membership, and he really helped me to perform my duties then and later as Division VII Director 2010-2011. Pat was fundamental to achieve very important changes PES had during his time with us and I think he leaves a legacy that will be always remembered in IEEE and PES.
We went through very special times and sometimes difficult ones too, such as the one experienced in Colombia during the IEEE PES T&D Latin America in 2008. Nothing was an obstacle for him to perform his duties and he was always there for PES and its members.
I was so glad when he was recognized with the Eric Herz award this year. This was a very well deserved recognition showing what a true professional and dedicated person he was.
Our prayers and condolences for his family and friends.
Pat will be always remembered and missed. Rest in peace my friend!!
My warmest condolences to Pat's family and to his bigger family, that of PES.
As former Chair of the Power Tech Conference I have worked for many years with Pat in the framework of the International Steering Committee to which he participated. He attended all Power Tech Conferences since 2005 and he played the key role in achieving the smooth cooperation between the Local Organizer of each conference and IEEE/PES. Also in my years as Region 8 Rep in the PES GB I had the chance to work with him and I appreciated his role.
Rest in Peace, Pat!
I am so saddened to learn of Pat's passing. He was a wonderful man to work with in IEEE. I never saw him unwilling to help on a problem. He always had a special interest in students and his help in organizing several scholarship programs have helped many students find their lifetime careers in power engineering.
Not everyone in the PES knew Pat personally, but we all felt his impact in a positive way. In all my interactions with him, I was always impressed by his thoughtfulness and expertise in dealing with whatever issue he faced. He was a shining light to the PES. The light is dimmed, but continues to glow in our hearts and in the roots of PES. Thank you to his family for sharing him with us.
I’m very sadden to hear of the passing of Pat. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with him in the Technical Council and New Product Development Committee, where I got to respect and admire his kind and friendly nature and his outstanding work ethics and extensive knowledge of the PES and IEEE. He’ll be most certainly missed!
My most sincere condolences to his family and close friends.
We have lost an umbrella during rain...
I saw the news that Pat is no more. It is unbelievable as well as shocking. I had the chance to be in close association with Bob (Robert Dent) who was succeeded by Pat and then Mel (Melvin Olken) earlier from 2000 onward. With Bob going out of the scene at the time of John (John D McDonald), came our Pat. After an IEEE PES President (Bob) serving as Executive Director of PES, when I asked Pat about his experience, he narrated his connection with the hydroelectric power generation. Well, we accepted him in our fraternity, without any further question. Ironically in Bob's time I was an unsuccessful short-listed candidate for the post with B. Don Russell (also PES President) of TAMU interacting with me telephonically. I still remember even after getting his hand broken on a visit to Latin America with Wanda (Wanda Reder, PES President), Pat was so enthusiastic and determined he came along with Wanda to New Delhi, India to attend POWERCON in October 2008. Both were behind us standing tall to render their all possible support to handle the Conference of such magnitude at that time for success. Incidentally India had to wait 12 years to get the second POWERCON just concluded this week at Bangalore. During our common period of stay in PES Governing Board (2007-10 out of 2005-10 of mine), I am indebted to get all possible help from Pat for our Asia-Pacific Region, be it information or financial support due to any Chapter or for any Award. Even after that the association continued uninterrupted, so much so, even during virtual mode of holding the General Meeting this year, whenever I approached him because of so many hurdles for managing the Panel Sessions, with the PES staff involved results came very quickly. Possibly I'll never forget him in the role of PES Executive Director, and above all as a friend. He was definitely a person to talk less, but work more. We all will miss him very much.
Passing of Pat was shocking news for the whole electrical power community around the world! I worked with Pat closely while I was the President of Power Electronics Society on many joint initiatives between the "sister societies." Pat was an ideal executive director of a volunteer organization. He was uniquely able to internalize the fabric of the organization (why the volunteers join and stay), then use this thoughtful understanding to empower the "rotating leaders," while critically assuring the continuity of best practices. And it was such a great pleasure to work, talk, travel, eat, drink, ... with Pat. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him and remembered for a very long time.
Our CIGRE family is saddened by the loss of our dear friend, Pat Ryan, IEEE PES Executive Director. He is responsible for our outstanding partnership with IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) for several years. While our partnership will continue for the ages, his legacy will be with us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
SYDNEY KADIKULA ZIMBA
I met Mr. Patrick Ryan in 2017 in Accra, Ghana, at the IEEE PowerAfrica Conference. He was introduced to me as the PES Executive Director. He was quite a humble gentleman, full of inspiration. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the entire IEEE community. May the Almighty God give us comfort and strength at this difficult time of great loss. Mr. Patrick Ryan, we will miss you dearly, Sir.
The BENELUX IEEE PES Chapter would like to express sincere condolences to Pat's family and to his close colleagues. He was of pivotal influence to our society many times and will be missed.
All the best
I am so sorry to hear about this. I always enjoyed my interactions and working with Pat Ryan over the years and will miss seeing him at IEEE events.
I am very sorry to hear about his passing. He was a great leader and generous person. He was truly dedicated and showed regularly that he cared very much for other people.
We sat together at the dinner for the IEEE PES JTCM last January and talked a lot about his cancer but also about what his experience had showed him was truly important. I am happy to have the memory of our conversation that night.
Please accept my condolences for the PES staff.