Duane P. Ryan, Sr., age 57 of White River, SD, passed away February 3, 2013 of a heart attack while cutting wood in the Two Kettle area near the Little White River.
Duane was born July 8, 1955 in Rosebud, SD to George “Nig” Ryan and Ramona (Thompson) Ryan. He spent his early childhood on the McDill Ranch in northeast Mellette County near Bad Nation, SD helping his dad with ranch work and farming.
His father moved the family to a log cabin home along the Little White River on land owned by Gene Strain. Duane worked alongside his father helping with farming and ranch work. When work was done, he enjoyed playing along the Little White River, capturing rabbits and birds. He tagged along with his father who was an accomplished hunter and trapper. So began a life-long love for his sport of hunting and fishing. He had a great love for the outdoors. The more time he spent outdoors, he was happy.
In 1963, his father moved the family west of White River, near the Pine Creek on his grandmother Rose Iyotte’s family allotment. He attended White River Elementary School and also attended White River High School. During these years, Duane was taken under the wing of Ray Bartlett and began a long career as a Golden Gloves Boxer.
Duane convinced his father to allow him to enlist in the US Marines in 1972. He served in Okinawa and was released in 1974, after losing his only brother, George Jr., in an auto accident and the untimely death of his father. He told his family that he needed to come home and take care of his mom and sisters.
In 1974, he married Barbara Marshall and his son, Derek (DJ) Ryan was born. Also in 1974, he was blessed with the birth of another son, Mark Witt.
He married for a second time in 1978 to Norma Del Poignee in White River, SD. He was blessed with his only daughter, Latasha Marie Ryan, born in 1978. Another son, Dwayne Patrick Ryan, Jr. arrived in 1979. After the death of his only brother, George Jr., who was the father of a young son, Greg Ryan, Duane Sr., stepped into the father role and took Greg as his son. He had a great love and bond with all of his children and wife.
Duane Sr. moved his family to Farson, WY to work as a heavy equipment operator. He tore down many a mountain. He returned to South Dakota and moved his family to his homesite north of White River on Goose Neck. He raised horses and started his business, Pine Creek Guide Service, 1981. He didn’t consider his business as work, but his pleasure, he loved being outdoors, hunting and fishing.
He began a long-lasting career with John O’Bryan Construction and the RST Road Department as a heavy equipment operator, until 2007 when he suffered his first heart attack.
In 2000, he was the inspiration for the creation of the Mid States Mud Racing Association in White River. All of his family are actively involved in mud racing and it has become a sanctioned event in South Dakota and Nebraska. Duane has mud raced in several states and had been year-end points leader and champion in Small and Big Block Modified and Extreme Division. He was champion in all three divisions for 5 years.
He was honored to receive his Lakota name ‘Mahpiya To’ (Blue Sky), given to him by his uncle Lawrence Iyotte in 2009. He carried his name proudly.
He was excited by the birth of all his grandchildren and he loved spending time with all of them, being their teacher.
He leaves to mourn, his loving wife Norma Del; sons: Mark (Mina) Witt of Rosebud, SD, Derek Ryan of White River, Dwayne Ryan, Jr of White River, Greg Ryan of White River; daughter Latasha Ryan of White River; mother-in-law Ellen Poignee; sisters: Ruth Ryan Brown of Pierre, SD, Shere (Bobby) Ryan, Rose Ryan, Josephine Ryan and Jeannie Farmer all of White River; cousins Cecil Brandis, Sr. and Robert Miles, also of White River.
Grandchildren: Damon Moran, Taylor Mednansky, Hunter Ryan, Colton Thacker, Adaya Ryan, Madelyn Ryan, Jazlyn Ryan, Phillip Ryan, Atlantis Witt, River Ryan and Roudy Ryan; his aunts and uncles from the Iyotte, Black Elk and Thompson families and many nieces and nephews. Also, a large extended family and many, many friends.
Preceding him in death were his parents George ‘Nig’ and Ramona Ryan, brother George Ryan, Jr, grandparents Joe and Rose Iyotte and Perry and Ada Thompson, father-in-law Norman Poignee, brother-in-law Jack Poignee, niece Jessica Poignee, and nephews Danny Portwine and Bob Poignee.
Wake services were held Wednesday, February 6th at Swift Bear Community Hall and funeral services were held at the White River Event Center on February 7, 2013. Duane requested cremation and that his ashes be scattered on the land he loved, near his home on the Goose Neck. Family and friends gathered to do this on February 9, 2012.
Holmes Funeral Home of Valentine was entrusted with the arrangements.