William Fitts Ryan
William Fitts Ryan (June 28, 1922 – September 17, 1972) was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a representative from New York in the United States House of Representatives from 1961 until his death in 1972. He was a member of the Democratic Party.
Early life 
Education and military service 
Ryan entered Princeton University as member of Class of 1944. From 1943 to 1946 during World War II, he served in the United States Army in the South Pacific, as an artillery lieutenant in the Thirty-second Infantry Division. He graduated from Princeton University in 1947, and two years later, in 1949, he graduated from Columbia Law School. That same year, 1949, he was admitted to the bar and began his practice.
Professional and legislative career 
Ryan served as assistant district attorney in New York County from 1950 until 1957 and then again from 1957 until 1961. In 1961, he was elected to Congress as a Democrat, representing Manhattan's Upper West Side, and was elected five more times.
Ryan was an early opponent of American involvement in the Vietnam War, being the first member of the U.S. House to speak out against the War; and was active in supporting civil rights. At the 1968 Democratic National Convention, he was chosen as a delegate from New York.
Congressman Ryan championed the creation of a unit of the National Park Service from historic properties and significant natural resources in the hands of the federal government around the New York City metropolitan area, with the intention of providing millions of local residents and visitors the opportunity to visit a unit of the National Park System who might never have the opportunity otherwise. The enabling legislation to create the result, Gateway National Recreation Area, was signed shortly after his death.
Redistricting following the 1970 census had put freshman representative Bella Abzug of the neighboring 19th district in the same district as Ryan. Abzug challenged the then ailing Ryan in the Democratic primary. Ryan prevailed by a considerable margin, but died two months later in New York City on September 17, 1972. His widow, Priscilla Ryan, ran to succeed her late husband, but was defeated in the special party convention to decide Ryan's replacement on the Democratic ballot, by Abzug. She also lost the general election to Abzug, running on the Liberal Party line.
Ryan was buried in St. Thomas Church Cemetery in Croom, Maryland.
- William Fitts Ryan at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- The Political Graveyard
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district
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