Smokey Joe's Tavern owner Paul Ryan, a popular businessman known for remembering anyone who frequented the bar, died Sunday night at the age of 66 after a long battle with cancer. Ryan, who has owned and operated Smoke's since 1952, died at his home in Overbrook after being sick for several months. "He was a down-to-earth . . . kind man, remarkable in the scope of his relationships," said Joseph Ryan, the late bar owner's great-nephew and a worker at the tavern. "He was friends with many different people, from seniors at Penn to the dean of the Wharton School . . . to Princess Grace, who always came around when she was in town," he added. "And he would have just as much fun with all of them . . . and they with him." Paul Ryan bought Smoke's when the tavern was located at 36th and Locust streets, moving it twice before settling into its current 40th Street location. He also owned the surrounding mall on 40th Street for several years, only recently selling the property to the University. Ryan had eight children, including one University alum, Sean Ryan, who graduated last May. He is also survived by 17 grandchildren. West Philadelphia business man Frank Turner, a long time friend of the tavern owner who was at the bar last night, said he "owes everything" to Ryan. Turner said Ryan helped make him into a businessman by partly financing a bar at 37th Street and Fairmount Avenue. Turner said he already misses Ryan. "He was just like a father to me," Turner said. "He was a very decent and kind person . . . the whole neighborhood liked him." Turner remembers Ryan as a "funny but serious man," who loved to joke around but who could be explicitly trusted. "If he told you something, you can bet he really meant it," he said. Wharton senior and Smoke's bartender Chance Van Sciver agreed, saying when he met Ryan last year, the bar owner remembered Van Sciver's father, who graduated from the University in 1952. The bartender said Ryan recognized him and remembered what his father had studied, where he worked and where he lived. "He was a remarkable person," Van Sciver said. Smoke's as well as its sister bar on the Main Line will continue to be run by Ryan's sons -- Paul Jr. and Patrick. Ryan's funeral will be held on Thursday at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on 63rd Street and Lancaster Avenue at 10:30 a.m. Contributions in his memory may be made to The Motherhouse of the Sisters of The Blessed Sacrament, 1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, 19020 or to The Convent of Divine Love, 2212 Green Street, Philadelphia, 19130.Comments powered by Disqus
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