Kevin Ryan, 49, of Winona, died suddenly on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, in La Crosse, Wisc. He was born on June 4, 1962, in La Crosse, and grew up on a farm in rural Hokah, Minn., where he learned the arts of auto mechanics and music from his father. He graduated from Houston High School in 1980. He married Heidi Guenther on December 14, 1984, in Minneapolis, Minn.
Kevin was known to some as a master auto mechanic, to others as a skilled tubist and violinist, still others as a lover of bow ties, and to uncountable strangers as a kind soul who would stop to help stranded motorists, no matter the time of day or condition of the road. Kevin’s singular talents and perfect pitch enabled him to tune both pianos and cars.
A 1985 graduate of Winona State University with a B.S. in Music Education, Kevin directed band and orchestra in the Thief River Falls, Mabel, Houston, and Caledonia, Minn. districts, and was an adjunct violin instructor at Winona State University. In the 1980s he worked as a boat mechanic at the Winona Yacht Club and as an auto mechanic at Chrysler Corner. Since 2002 he worked as a specialist in European imports at Conway Auto Service in La Crosse.
Kevin was a founding member of the Winona Brass Band, a member of the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band, La Crosse Concert Band, La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Winona Symphony Orchestra, Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Symphony Orchestra, Ars Classica String Quartet, and various other chamber ensembles. He was also a member of the American Chesterton Society and the Winona Area Ballroom Dance Club. Kevin loved Shakespeare and opera. He was an active motocross and ice racer and served on pit crews for ice racing teams in the 1980s and 2000s. Kevin enjoyed many canoeing adventures in the Boundary Waters and in Canada’s Quetico, particularly with his longtime friend and next door neighbor, Brant Deppa.
Kevin’s conversion to the Catholic faith, and his love for Gregorian chant and the Tridentine Mass, led him to voluntarily serve as director of the Latin Mass Schola at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse. He proudly championed the Social Kingship of Christ.
He is survived by his wife, Heidi Guenther Ryan of Winona; children William (Joanna) Schuth of Madison, Wisc., Rachael Ryan (fiance Douglas Dahlgren) of Winona, and Christian Ryan of Winona; mother, Louise Ryan of rural Mabel, Minn.; brothers James (Brenda) Ryan and Ole Ryan; sisters Karen Ryan, Rhonda (Troy) Greenberg, and Joleen (Nate) Mitchell; mother-in-law, Gladys Guenther; eight sisters and brothers-in-law; 23 nieces and nephews; and 10 great-nieces and nephews.
Kevin was preceded in death by his father, Richard Ryan; father-in-law, Emil Guenther; paternal grandparents, Selmer and Frances Ryan; and maternal grandparents, Benjamin R. and Lillian Benjamin.
Visitation will be held at Fawcett-Junker Funeral Home on Sunday, December 18, from 2:00-5:00pm, with a Rosary and Sunday Vespers beginning at 5:00pm. A Requiem Mass will be said at 9:00am on Monday, December 19, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse. Interment will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Winona, following Mass.
Words of sympathy or remembrance may be left at www.fawcett-junkerfuneralhome.com. Services entrusted to Fawcett-Junker Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Winona.