Ryan grew up in a large family in Rye, New York, and spent several summers of his youth in Newport, Maine. He was the twin brother of Donn Fendler, who famously survived being lost on Mt. Katahdin for nine days in 1939, when they were twelve. Ryan was always proud to be the twin who didn’t get lost. He received some of his secondary school education at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine, and served in the Navy during WWII. He resumed his education after the war, met Barbara Rogers in Rye, and they were married in 1949. After he finished Hobart College, they moved to Pittsfield with two baby sons in 1952. The goal was to restart a manufacturing division of the family church goods business, which was based in New York City. It may also be true that he was drawn by the chance to fly small planes in the uncrowded skies of central Maine.
Ryan and Barbara loved life in Pittsfield. Over time, they had three more children. His boundless energy, creativity, good taste and leadership drove steady growth at Church Goods Manufacturing (now known as CM Almy), from a start-up operation in the sheds and barn of a Palmyra farm, to a purpose-built factory in Pittsfield. He and his brother, Tom, developed the business into the most respected supplier of church furnishings in the USA. Ryan’s high spirits and Barbara’s grace and warmth drew many friends to them. Together with their “mouse pack” they worked hard (and played hard) to create a great community for themselves and their children. He helped found the Kiwanis Club, co-founded the Pinnacle Ski Club, started a small sailing club on Unity Pond, and became popular with local kids by giving them their first plane rides. Flying was his passion until very late in his life: he had a membership in the UFO (United Flying Octogenarians). He even attracted a skydiving group to the local airport and initiated a continuing interest in the sport there. Ryan also served on the Boards of Sebasticook Valley Hospital, Maine Central Institute and the Training and Development Corporation, the Mark Maine Commission, and he was a Somerset County Commissioner.
When Ryan retired from business in 1986, he and Barbara started new homes in Camden, Maine, and at Sugarloaf USA. There, love of life continued, revolving around sailing, skiing, flying, family, friends and community service. They were members of the Camden Yacht Club, where they moored their sailboat, “Hooray!” Ryan was a ski ambassador at Sugarloaf. He also served on Boards of Directors of the Transportation Museum at Owl’s Head and the Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockland. Also at Pen Bay, he volunteered in the emergency room. Growing out of his involvement with Pen Bay Medical, Ryan’s final organizational involvement was with Partners for World Health, a Portland organization that gathers surplus medical equipment and sends containers full of it, along with groups of medical professionals, to provide supplies and training in developing countries. Ryan not only served on their board, he made “blue wrap” gowns for their annual gala, and he traveled with them to Cambodia and Tanzania in 2012, when he was in his mid-80’s.
Ryan was a romantic at heart, and he experienced the best and worst of love. His wonderful 53-year marriage with Barbara ended too soon when she was taken by a stroke in 2002. After a while, fortune brought him another wonderful companion, Nancy Carruthers. Sadly, Nancy also died too early, in 2009. He never stopped searching for love, but he lived alone in Camden until 2016, when he moved to an independent living apartment at the Oceanview retirement community in Falmouth, near his daughter, Nancy and son, Peter.
In addition to his loss of Barbara and Nancy, Ryan was also predeceased by his brother, Donn; by sisters, Patricia and Nanci; and by his son, Donald. He is survived by his brother, Thomas Fendler of Rye, NY; and his sister, Kathy Meyers of Tulsa, OK; by his daughter, Nancy Fendler of Falmouth, ME; and sons, Stephen and wife, Lois, of White Plains, NY, Michael and wife, Melinda Loveitt, of Pittsfield, ME, and Peter and wife, Karen, of Falmouth, ME; and by eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, Abigail Fendler and her husband, Noel Febres, and their children, Soleil and Nico, of Brooklyn, NY, Katharine Fendler and her husband, Luke Murumba, of Geneva, CH, Rachel Fendler and her husband, Roger Batlle, and their children, Teo and Ivet, of Tallahassee, FL, Daniel Fendler and his wife, Lizzie, of Sleepy Hollow, NY, Shae-Li Fendler and her husband, Ben McVikar, of Portland, ME, Harper Fendler of Portland, ME, Margo Lee of New York, NY, and Kai Lee of Falmouth, ME. Nancy Carruthers’s daughters, Lindsey and Tracy; and sons, Charlie and Danville, think of Ryan as a second father and also mourn his passing.
A man as active and adventurous as Ryan inevitably got, and gave, a few bumps and bruises along the way. He could be impatient, combative and quick to anger. A lifelong boot-strapper, his frugality could leave boats and planes in less than perfect working order. He could be a little reckless, as on the day he flew from to New York to Maine with his young sons aboard, and failing to find an opening in the cloud cover that would let him land in Pittsfield, and running low on gas, put down in a farmer’s field in East Waterford, 100 miles farther west. His luck held that day, and every day. His joie de vivre, good humor and generosity always prevailed, and his friends love him for all that he was.
The family would like to thank those friends and the people at Oceanview at Falmouth, the Maine Medical Center and Gosnell Memorial Hospice Home, who cared for him in his last days. A celebration of Ryan’s life will be held at The Woodlands Club in Falmouth, Maine, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 3rd. Any donations in his memory should be made to Partners for World Health of Portland, Maine.