Peggy H. Ryan (’47)

Peggy Hebert Ryan passed away peacefully after a short illness on July 14, 2020. Peggy was a proud native Houstonian, born the third daughter of Houston restauranteur, Clifton Hebert and his wife, Lula. She graduated from St. Agnes Academy in addition to helping at the family restaurant, checking hats and coats growing up. She attended USO dances and socials with her older sisters, Derrell and Joyce, and worked as a “hall girl” at Humble Oil in downtown Houston after college. Peggy had many interests. A voracious reader, she always had reading material close at hand, whether it was a book, newspaper or Readers Digest. Her love of humorous (and sometimes slightly baudy!) ‘cowboy poetry’ inspired her to compose her own poems. One she titled, “Mooning”, was inspired by her youngest son and daughter, after the son’s rehearsal dinner prior to his wedding. (We won’t go into details here on that one!) Always thoughtful of her children, even when some moved far away, they enjoyed her little ‘care packages’ she’d set aside with articles, books, or memorabilia which she’d send to them on occasion. Gardening was also a hobby that she thoroughly enjoyed all of her life. Her backyard garden was a beautiful site to see with a wide variety of fruit trees, plants and flowers, in which she lovingly shared and traded cuttings with friends and family members. She was an avid photographer and had several cameras over the years from Brownies to digital cameras, mastering the new technology and taking wonderful pictures with each one. Thanks to her we have numerous photo albums recording the events of her life, as well as records of all the trips she and Paul took traveling around the world in their retirement. Her sense of humor and flair for the dramatic was hilarious at times. One instance of her arriving at the airport to pick up one of her daughters, not only drew several amused stares from the crowd, but quickly turned into peals of laughter when with one hand in the air, she ‘struck a pose’ in a hot-pink wig to grab her daughter’s attention! She met her future husband, Paul Ryan, through her Aunt Florence of New Orleans, who was good friends with Paul’s mother, Grace Ryan. Paul traveled frequently from New Orleans to Houston on business and her aunt suggested she introduce him to some nice girls. Peggy said, with a smile, “I was the nicest girl I knew”, and that was the beginning of a beautiful life-long romance. After dating for 18 months, Paul asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Her answer was, “How about an engagement ring?” She said,” You could have knocked Paul over with a feather.” She got her proposal and ring. The wedding was set for May, but Paul was in the U.S. Air Force and was required to report for duty the 2nd week of April. The wedding was moved up to April 1, 1951 (April Fool’s Day) which was the first Sunday available to have the reception at the family’s restaurant, Hebert’s Ritz Restaurant. They were married at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Houston on April 1, 1951 with the reception following at the Ritz. The newlyweds set up housekeeping in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Keesler Air Force Base, where Peggy was the dutiful officer’s wife, attending luncheons and teas with other young officer’s wives. Thirteen months later, the couple welcomed the first of five children the couple would have over the next 10 years. The family of three moved back to the Houston area and the University of Houston campus where Paul went back to college for his second degree in engineering. Being a housewife and mother of five was her full-time work until the youngest child started school. At that time Peggy joined her husband during school hours and helped everyday with his engineering company, Ryco Engineering where she held positions of Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. After a long search for a larger house, Peggy found their dream home in 1971, in Sandalwood subdivision, just off Memorial Drive in Houston. It was the perfect house that backed up to a small beautiful lake. It was here that she took up another passion, painting. She painted mostly in acrylic but also dabbled in watercolor. Several of her paintings adorned our walls at home. In January 1970, when her father, Clifton Hebert died unexpectedly, she and her husband stepped in to manage the family restaurant, Hebert’s Ritz for the next 19 years, keeping over 45 employees from losing their jobs. With the closing of the restaurant in 1989, Paul retired from the Air Force Reserves, sold his engineering company and together Peggy and Paul traveled the world. All the while, Peggy documenting their travels in and notes. With their love of sailing, they joined the Houston Yacht Club, where they were members for over 40 years. During those years they enjoyed many days with their friends sailing Galveston bay. In later years, they had their favorite corner in the HYC lounge/dining room and could be found there every Wednesday and Friday night for drinks and dinner. When Paul had a stroke in 2017 and needed skilled nursing care, they both moved to The Crossings in League City. Peggy was able to stay in independent living in an apartment while Paul was on the same campus in the skilled nursing wing. Every day she traveled on her racing-stripe adorned electric scooter to his room and was able to visit the love of her life, sharing a glass of wine, reading the newspaper, watching tv and just enjoying each other’s company. Peggy was preceeded in death by her parents, Clifton and Lula Hebert, sisters, Derrell Hebert Moore and Joyce Hebert Furr, her son, Paul V Ryan II and grandson Clinton Ryan. She is survived by her husband of 69 years, Paul V. Ryan, daughters Patricia Ryan Gibson, Sharon Ryan Anderson (Rich) and sons William J. Ryan (Sandy) and Kevin P. Ryan (Tracy). There are 6 grandchildren: Amber Ryan Allen, Mallory Ryan, Zac Anderson, Cody Anderson, Colleen Gibson and Sean Ryan and 5 great grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity in her name.
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