Source: Hans Funeral Home

After A Life in the Closet, Military Vet, 85, Comes Out - In His Obituary

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

According to People Magazine, an 85-year-old veteran of the U.S. armed forces came out publicly in his obituary, declaring, "I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life."

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan was a resident of Albany, NY at the time of his death. His obit appeared in the June 8 edition of local newspaper the Albany Times Union.

The obituary listed a long list of accomplishments, including Col. Ryan's service in the Army's 10th Brigade, the recognitions for valor he won in the National Defense Service Medal and the Defense of Liberty Medal, his founding and co-owning of an Albany radio station, and his career as a firefighter in the city of Rensselaer, where he lived for much of his life.

No mention was made of a marriage partner, but Col. Ryan's 14 nephews and nieces survive him.

The obit had all the hallmarks of a life well lived with service and distinction. But Col. Ryan had a poignant message he wanted published in his obit that was equal parts sad and triumphant.

"I must tell you one more thing," Col. Ryan's message read. "I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life."

"I was in a loving and caring relationship with Paul Cavagnaro of North Greenbush," Col. Ryan's message continued. "He was the love of my life. We had 25 great years together. Paul died in 1994 from a medical Procedure gone wrong. I'll be buried next to Paul."

"I'm sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay," the military veteran went on to add. "I was afraid of being ostracized: by Family, Friends, and Co-Workers. Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it."

"Now that my secret is known, I'll forever Rest in Peace."

Though Col. Ryan was closeted from the public and from colleagues, his family knew he was gay, UK newspaper the Daily Mail said.

According to Col. Ryan's nephew, Joseph Ryan, the family "even met his longtime partner Paul," the Mail relayed.

"They would go on vacation," the Mail quoted Joseph Ryan as saying. "Once he did retire, he would take a month off, and they would just put down where they wanted to go, any place in the world."

"So, we kind of knew, but he wasn't one that would come right out and say anything," Joseph added.

Comments on the obit included a claim from someone identified as Chrissy Williams who said she had married Paul Cavagnaro's nephew and had met Col. Ryan, the Mail recounted.

"We enjoyed several holidays, dinners, picnics together," the comment said. "He was a true gentleman, and it was unfortunate that he felt he had to hide his being gay. He and Paul were a lot of fun together."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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