A Letter of Thanks: Naming Jerry Ryan Plaza Would ‘Mean the World to Him’

by Deborah Gaines Ryan
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On November 4, the Maplewood Township Committee unanimously voted to rename the plaza in front of Maplewood Town Hall at 574 Valley Street as “Jerry Ryan Plaza.” Ryan, who served as Mayor of Maplewood for three years, as well as many more years on the Township Committee and Planning Board (where he recently served as Chair), passed away in May at the age of 59. Here, his widow Deborah Gaines Ryan thanks the Township Committee. The renaming ceremony will be announced in future.

Jerry Ryan (left) with Vic DeLuca in 2010 at what will soon be known as Jerry Ryan Plaza.

November 6, 2020

To: Maplewood Township Committee

Mayor Frank McGehee
Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis
Committeewoman Nancy Adams
Committeeman Victor DeLuca
Committeeman Gregory Lembrich

Cc: Township Clerk Elizabeth J. Fritzen

Dear Township Committee members,

I am writing to express my deepest gratitude for your recent resolution to name the plaza in front of the Maplewood Municipal Building after my late husband, Jerry Ryan.

As you know, public service to Maplewood was the bedrock of Jerry’s life. From the start of his first term on the Township Committee in 1992 to his final planning board meeting in 2020, he brought his heart, soul, and boundless amounts of energy to the job. Over the years, he engaged with thousands of concerned citizens, not just at meetings, but in line at the grocery store and over dinner at the pub.

To quote Mr. Rogers (another guy who knew something about neighborhoods), Jerry was a helper. He wanted the best for the people of Maplewood and never stopped working to make a difference in our lives.

Most of all, he was proud of the relationships he nurtured with his colleagues in public service – including all of you. He was honored to run with (or against) you, support you, argue with you, walk by your side, and call you his friends. This tribute would mean the world to him.


Deborah Gaines Ryan


June 2015. Mayor Vic DeLuca and former Mayor Jerry Ryan celebrate marriage equality on the steps of Maplewood Town Hall.

Memorial Day 2015. Photo by Joy Yagid. Ryan is seated on the left between Marlon K. Brownlee and India Larrier.

Memorial Day 2015. From left to right: Jerry Ryan, Marlon K. Brownlee, Vic DeLuca, India Larrier, Kathleen Leventhal.

Maplewood Town Hall draped in purple bunting to mourn Jerry Ryan, May 2020.

The plaza in June 2015, where Ryan helped celebrate marriage equality.

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