Longtime Denver Post features writer Barbara Haddad Ryan dies at 83

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Bill Peters, Denver Post File

Barbara Haddad Ryan in 1972.

Barbara Anne Haddad Ryan, a longtime reporter who wrote for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, died Thursday at her North Carolina home. She was 83 years old.

Ryan went to work for The Post in 1962 after graduating with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Among the stories she worked on in Colorado was the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981 by John Hinckley in Washington, DC Hinckley’s family lived in Evergreen at the time and Ryan had just interviewed a family member for a different story when news of the assassination attempt broke, said daughter Anne Ryan.

“My mom made the connection and off we went to the races to gather some more details,” said Anne Ryan.

In 2014, Anne Ryan wrote a short thank you note to her mom inside a birthday card. “You are the best mom in the world. And the best model in the universe. Thank you. I love you with everything. Happy birthday, Annie, ”the note concludes.

Of Lebanese origin, Barbara Anne Haddad was born on December 18, 1937 in Akron, Ohio. She graduated from Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia, then went to Columbia. On November 25, 1967, she married Vincent Ryan in Denver. They later divorced. He predeceased her in death in 2003.

Ryan lived in Denver for about 30 years where she raised a family and pursued a career in journalism. A talented feature film writer, she has covered a range of topics at The Post, including art, architecture, music and television. Ryan has also written editorial opinion pieces.

“She was one of the smartest and wittiest people to ever work at the Denver Post,” said Fred Brown, the newspaper’s longtime former political editor. “She lent a hint of sophistication to the old City Room, then something of a disreputable place that still smelled of tobacco and bourbon fumes.”

An industrialist, Ryan served as Acting President of Journalism at Metropolitan State College in Denver, she was Executive Director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra for a short time, and worked in public relations for the Colorado School of Mines. She has volunteered for the Denver Art Museum and the Children’s Museum of Denver.

“She was a brilliant person, very funny and she spoke so fast you really had to put your ear to the speed dial,” said Virginia Culver, longtime religious editor at The Post. “She liked to keep the conversation going, mainly the news and politics. It was not an informal conversation.

Leaving Colorado in the early 1990s, Ryan returned to Philadelphia where she served as associate vice president of her alma mater, Swarthmore College, from 1992 to 2000. She ended her career at Phi Beta Kappa, the honorary society. Academic, in Washington, DC, as National Director of Public Relations from 2000 to 2005.

She retired and returned to Denver for a few years, before moving to Cary, NC, where she enjoyed being a grandmother and staying active in community affairs and social justice.

She is survived by two daughters, Anne Ryan and Jennifer Pillay; Jennifer and her husband, Poobie Pillay, are the parents of her granddaughter, Cheralise Pillay.

Ryan was a member of the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver. She died of complications from a stroke.

A memorial service will be held on November 6 at the Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. The family is asking for donations to be made in his honor to a charity of the donor’s choice.


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