Earl Ryan Lory
August 15, 2022
A eulogy by his wife, Susan Lory
Earl R. Lory, 86, of South Canaan Township (Post Office Waymart, PA.) died in his bedroom early on the morning of August 15th, 2022. I was privileged to be with him at the end. He passed quickly and peacefully without any obvious trauma.
Earl was the first child born in Alamosa, Colorado to the late Earl Christian Lory and the late Naomi Ryan Lory on November 8, 1935. He is survived by his sister, Mary Anna Lory of Missoula, Montana. Although Earl grew up in Missoula and graduated from high school there, he had warm memories of his time living on his grandfather James P. Ryan’s Colorado farm with his mother, sister and many nearby cousins. While his father was in the Army, Earl helped around the farm, bringing in the potato crop, smoking his first cigarettes behind the barn, and learning to drive a tractor. Here, he fell in love with trucks. Years later, in Pennington NJ, Earl commuted to Bell Labs in Princeton in his bright red 1949 Chevy one-ton pick-up truck, aptly named “Jeremiah.” Friends would often tell me they had seen Earl and Jeremiah in town. Four vintage trucks still live in his shop hoping for some magical restoration.
After World War II, Earl and his family moved to Pittsburgh PA where his father had a research position at John Hopkins Hospital. Being born with high altitude Colorado lungs, Earl had difficulty with the dust and pollution that pervaded Pittsburgh at that time. He remembered well the black dirt that clung to his mother’s newly washed window curtains. After Pittsburgh, his father, also a Chemist, took a teaching position at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Earl continued his undergraduate education at the University of Montana where his father was first a Chemistry professor and later moved into Administration as a Dean. Earl’s mother taught at the University as well in the Department of Home Economics. When Earl completed his first Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, his father was the dignitary who awarded him his diploma.
During his undergraduate education, Earl participated in ROTC and then he served in the military as a First Lieutenant. Although he successfully completed Ranger Training and learned to fly and jump from airplanes, the Army knew they had a great teacher. So Earl taught basic training to young green recruits. And he loved it and came to care deeply for his trainees.
After his Honorable Discharge from the Army, Earl returned to Missoula to figure life out and complete a second Bachelor’s Degree, this time in Philosophy. Back in Missoula at the University he met and fell in love with his first wife, Alice Anne Larom. He had known her only briefly as Alice Anne Buls, back in high school, but now she was a beautiful divorcee with a two-year old son, Bruce. Alice Anne was getting only episodic child support from her ex-husband so had returned to Missoula to live with her parents while she went back to school in English, hoping to get a teaching position.
That summer, Earl spent a glorious time working on a fire lookout in Montana alone on a mountain top, reading philosophy, staring at the tree covered mountains, and dreaming about his upcoming marriage.
During the last few months of Earl’s illness, he spent hours in our sunroom of windows watching the birds and delighting in the changing light and beautiful sunsets. Almost a “Look Out.”
Two years later their family was complete with the birth of Katherine Anne Lory. The next move was to Seattle for Earl to pursue a PhD in Physical Chemistry while Alice Anne worked at the Fisherman’s Library and kept the family financially afloat. Post graduation there seemed to be no academic teaching jobs, so they decided they would beef up Earl’s resume with a post doc at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Alice Anne and I met when we both got teaching positions in the English Department at Ithaca College. I had attended Cornell for Bachelors and Masters Degrees and then married my first husband, David Bessel, and had two children, Lisa and Erik. Alice Anne and I became very close friends and colleagues and went on, with other writing faculty, to create a stand-alone Writing Program independent from the English Department. Through all of this, Earl was often a supportive friend and I got to see, up close, how a “good” marriage worked. As a couple and as individuals, Earl and Alice helped support me through the ending of my own marriage and helped me negotiate the rocky year that followed. Then, in May 1977, Alice Anne was killed in a one-car auto accident. Grief upon grief.
Earl and I continued our grief-journey as dear close friends but that slowly morphed into the love that sustained our 42-year marriage. In 1980 we decided to merge our families into a lumpy blend of four kids (his, Bruce and Kay and mine, Lisa and Erik), two dogs, four cats and much too much adolescent energy. The exciting and often bumpy road we embarked upon with our blended family has been anything but boring. Later we added many more cats and about ten dogs. Currently, I am living with two dogs (a Golden and a Yorkie, and one cat. (In the last months of his life Earl wanted us to get another dog…how about another Great Dane? And he was only half joking).
Earl loved life and he loved living it…”one day at a time.” He loved nature and animals. His delight in the natural world lead him to hiking and mountain climbing. In the Grand Tetons, with his friend Bill Coggswell, they summited the mountain for the first time in Winter.
He also excelled in down hill skiing and while we lived in Ithaca, he took up enduro motorcycle racing on his self-maintained dirt bike.
Earl was so many things with such varied interests talents that it is really hard to try to wrap up this eulogy. His last career before retirement was as a Research Chemist with Nokia (previously Western Electric, Bell Labs, and Lucent.)
Together we raised four children, gained wonderful in-laws, welcomed seven grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. Tragically, we lost our wonderful granddaughter, Allison Leigh Rickert, seven years ago and our dear son, Bruce, six months ago. With all of the children growing up so quickly, we decided to raise a second family: we raised many cats and had many kittens; we had at least 10 dogs from birth. We loved them all.
These facts do not evoke the man who was Earl Ryan Lory. As many of you have noted, he was a very special and unique person. Endlessly curious, he read voraciously, mostly science and non-fiction, but he also appreciated poetry and some novels.
He was one of the brightest, kindest, gentlest men I have ever known and truly dedicated his life to embracing and living “the golden rule.”
The family is not planning any formal funeral or memorial service, although your comments and memories on this page would be greatly appreciated. At some future date, according to Earl’s wishes, the family will gather privately to scatter his ashes in the meadow behind our home. As he did for all his beloved pets, we will plant a tree in his honor.
I am ending this eulogy with a poem I wrote for him on the occasion of his seventy-eighth birthday in November 2013.
For Our Love
Grey clouds float East above the hilltops
And below the mountain foliage, our meadow climbs
gently toward home
Where I sit watching, wondering, wandering
Along the river of my thoughts
Floating far across the ocean of a life.
Seventy years old and my Love is seventy-eight
How much more time do we have?
And does it really matter?
We have today and today and today
And all of our yesterdays.
Mature love moves at a slower pace
But falters rarely.