Public memorial held for Lura Lynn Ryan

July 1, 2011 3:12:40 PM PDT
Members of the public had a chance to pay their respects Friday to former first lady Lura Lynn Ryan.

She died Monday after a long fight with cancer.

A private funeral and burial took place on Wednesday. Friday, the public could visit a Kankakee funeral home to sign a guestbook and offer condolences to Ryan's family.

One by one they came, friends, neighbors, and admirers of Lura Lynn Ryan.

"If she could help anybody she did help them, and she thought of ways to help people. That was her portion of giving to the state of Illinois," said Tony Perry, a Ryan family friend.

The gathering, friends say, was a reflection of Mrs. Ryan herself, understated yet refined, full of warmth and good cheer.

"Last time I saw her, which was probably a month ago, she looked great even though she didn't have any hair and she had this cute little hat on-- best spirits," said Sharon Hall, a Ryan family friend.

"She was happy even though she was under a lot of stress. She was eager to have a good time and speak with us and have lunch with us. She was upbeat all the time," said Ryan family friend Ellie Perry.

Mrs. Ryan died as she lived, surrounded by family, including her husband, who was granted a final visit Monday by the warden of his prison.

"This was a sad thing that had occurred, that he was in prison, but it was good that somebody saw that he should be with his wife," said Ryan neighbor Kathleen Ruch,

The former governor wasn't at Friday's gathering, nor did he attend the private burial on Wednesday, said his lawyer. Relatives say they will plan another service when he is released.

After mourners had left, the Ryan family let reporters in. Inside could be seen their tribute to their beloved matriarch and the mementos of a remarkable life.

Before leaving, Mrs. Ryan's son simply said, "We miss our mother."

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