The East Hampton Rotary honored a father-son lifeguarding duo on Monday evening at its dinner meeting at Harvest on Fort Pond in Montauk.
John Ryan Sr. and John Ryan Jr., both of whom have been proponents for water safety for decades, were selected last month as the East Hampton Rotary's Person of the Year for 2013.
John Sr. — known as "Big John" — has been a lifeguard for approximately 50 years, and is a coordinator for the East Hampton Lifeguard Training, a coordinator for the junior lifeguard training and currently heads the education committee for the Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad. He is a volunteer with the Ocean Rescue Squad and chair of the Water Safety Committee. He was also instrumental in the formation of the East Hampton Hurricanes swim team.
A documentary entitled “Big Bad John’s Lifeguards for Life” was produced recently.
His son, an East Hampton Middle School teacher, is the chief of the town lifeguards. He has also taken on lifeguard training programs, and started a water safety program for fifth graders. He too was instrumental in the formation of the Hurricanes.
Here is what some of our readers had to say about the Ryans:
Mary ann La Carrubba: For all they do, a wonderful choice. Congrats!!
jackie lowey: Congratulations to both. And thank you for all you do for our community!
Chris Tracey: Rotary couldn't select two more worthy individuals. I have know the Ryans since the late 70's and early 80's when I life guarded at Main Beach- At that time, Joe Dooley head of the county lifeguard testing program, did not come out to E.H. to give ocean tests. We had to travel to Smith Point Park. After Joe met John Sr, that changed and soon the tests were given in East Hampton several times a year. Young local kids would watch this physically demanding and technically challenging test from the shore, and it planted seeds in their heads that they, one day ,would aspire to Lifeguard...When I was E.H athletic director,behind their dream, we set up a drownproofing program for (K) students and water safety/ swim instruction for grades 1-5 at the "Y", that continues( I believe) today.As you reported, they started the Jr Lifeguard program, which teaches so many youngsters the physical and technical aspects of water safety. It also includes water and beach related competitions..The establishment of the Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad was so needed ,and the community has already reaped the benefits of this groups water vigilance...Lastly, the establishment of the Hurricanes swim team has been an incredible addition to our school based athletic programs.It has been so heartwarming to see this team morph from a few individual competitors 6 or 7 years back , to an evergrowing,incredibly successful and fully coeducational program, with a great coach. Two great people. Congratulations..
Loretta Lynch: Congratulations to them both, they are wonderful caring people. As a matter of fact, their whole family is wonderful. God Bless them all!
Maeera Mougin: Congratulations to Big John and Johnny. A true honor to know them and their families.
AnnaMaria Patelli: The number of lives these 2 men have touched either directly or indirectly is immeasurable. Their sense of service, inspiration and education to the legions of young children is a cornerstone every community should have. Kuddos to the Rotary for honoring them, a well deserved and a long overdue commendation. My sons were among the fortunate ones to have been put through the paces from junior lifeguards as children to Town Lifeguards as young adults. The commitment, professionalism, and compassion they received is now being transmitted in all their future endeavors. Thanks to Mr Ryan, Jr & Sr, East Hampton and its beaches are a safer place and a better community.
Ellen Cooper: Two winners who really deserve the recognition. Long over due and proud to have worked with "Big John", and watched young Johnny grow up. Congratulations to two of Bonac's finest community minded citizen's.