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Journalist's skills evident in political service

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By Bill Vidonic
Saturday, May 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Marilyn Jean Ryan had no problem moving between writing a crime story as reporter for The Daily News to overseeing a section of the McKees-port newspaper then known as the “women's page,” a former co-worker said.

“Everything she did, she did it with dedication,” said Mark Russell, a member of the graphic arts department of The Daily News.

Marilyn Jean Ryan of Pleasant Hills died in her home on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, following an illness. She was 85.

Mrs. Ryan worked for The Daily News when it was owned by the Mansfield family, for 20 years in the 1960s and 1970s. It was there, Russell said, that she met her husband, Willard J. Ryan, who was the assistant to owner Thomas D. Mansfield.

“She was well-liked by everybody here,” Russell said. “They thought highly of Marilyn.”

The Daily News now is a sister paper of the Tribune-Review.

When she left The Daily News, Mrs. Ryan became an administrative assistant for Cyril Wecht during his term as Allegheny County commissioner between 1980 and 1984.

“She had great experience as a journalist for many, many years, and was invaluable to me as a liaison with the news media,” Wecht said. “As a result, largely of that experience as a journalist, coupled with her intelligence, she understood governments and she understood politics,” Wecht said. “She was a key person on my staff. She was someone I knew I could count on. She was a good representative for me and Allegheny County government.”

Mrs. Ryan owned and operated the former The Message Bearers gift shop, a build-a-bear store in Pleasant Hills.

Mrs. Ryan was an avid “Jeopardy” game show viewer and enjoyed working on crossword puzzles.

Mrs. Ryan is survived by sons Al March of Pleasant Hills, and Samuel M. March of Greenock; four grandchildren; and five great-granchildren.

A private family service will be held in Round Hill Cemetery in Elizabeth Township, with the Rev. Dr. David Streets officiating. Arrangements are through Gilbert Funeral Home and Crematory, 6028 Smithfield St., Elizabeth Township.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

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