Patrick Andrew Ryan, who for 30 years was the manager of East Hampton Airport, died on Aug. 14 at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. He was 65. The cause was liver cancer, his wife, Nancy Metz-Ryan, said.
Mr. Ryan was a nearly lifelong aviation buff, becoming a pilot and air-traffic controller while he was still young. He started as an assistant at East Hampton Airport in the 1970s and took over when the manager whom he had worked for retired. He worked there from the late 1970s until leaving the post in 2005.
In that time he was instrumental in the growth of the airport during a period of extreme change and equal if not greater controversy. The terminal there had been essentially a shack when he took over, Ms. Metz-Ryan said, and Mr. Ryan headed a design contest for a new building. Among his many skills was grant writing, she said, accounting for millions of dollars in improvements to the town-owned facility — safety, runway extensions, and taxiways among them. His tenure included taking part in the creation of a much-debated airport master plan that eventually spawned several lawsuits.
“He was a down-to-earth, happy person,” Ms. Metz-Ryan said. An “ultimate mediator,” she said, “he was able to deal with all of the personalities coming into and out of that airport — the town board, the celebrities.”
“He had a quiet efficiency,” Gerard Boleis, the president of the East Hampton Aviation Association, said. “He was able to smoothly get things done. He was very much of a hands-on guy, he said. If a tree fell over, Mr. Ryan would deal with it; if the windsock needed fixing, he would just do it, Mr. Boleis said.
“Pat had a quality that is very important in a pilot: He was modest, he never bragged about anything,” Mr. Boleis said.
County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, a former two-term East Hampton Town supervisor, said that Mr. Ryan had done a very good job as airport manager. “I really respected the guy,” he said.
Aside from flying, Mr. Ryan was a person of broad interests, which included cooking, fishing, home improvement, music, scuba diving, and the New York Yankees and Oakland Raiders. He was a competitive darts player, Ms. Metz-Ryan said, reaching a championship level with a friend, Billy Havens, with whom he traveled to tournaments.
Deciding that retirement was not for him quite yet, he became the manager of the Clarksville, Tenn., airport, a position that lasted for five years. In Tennessee he and his wife kept horses on their own farmstead. When the southern climate got too hot for him, Mr. Ryan would spend part of the summer in Riverhead, Ms. Metz-Ryan said.
He was born on Aug. 4, 1948, in Southampton to Albert Truax Ryan and the former Mary Natale. He grew up in Amagansett and lived at various times in East Hampton, California, South Carolina, and New York City.
His brothers, Albert Ryan of Hope, Me., and Michael Ryan of Brookyln, survive, as does a grandchild. His children from a previous marriage to Nancy J. Marsala of East Hampton, are Haley Ryan Haring of Noyac and Jaclyn Ryan of Brooklyn. His first marriage was to the former Barbara Cooley of East Hampton.
A service will be announced for a later date at the Amagansett Firehouse. Mr. Ryan’s ashes will be spread by plane over the Atlantic Ocean.
An earlier version of this obituary misstated Mr. Ryan's birth date. It has also been edited to correct the names of his surviving family members.