June 12, 1946 - Nov. 14, 2017
Margaret A. Ryan wore high heels every day of her 32-year career as a teacher, principal and acting superintendent at Alden Central Schools.
And when she was principal at Alden Primary School, when everyone in the school brought in 100 items to mark the 100th day of school, she brought 100 pairs of her shoes.
"She loved high heels," said her sister, Joanne Mueller. "We're talking spikes!"
When Mrs. Ryan's illness progressed, she had to wear flat shoes because they were more comfortable. But according to her wishes, her casket was fully open, showing her high heels.
"Her toes and nails had to be done, she wanted the casket open, her high heels on with open toes," Mueller said.
Mrs. Ryan, 71, of East Amherst, died Tuesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital following a long illness.
The former Margeret Uebelhoer grew up in Alden, and she attended St. John the Baptist School, St. Mary's High School and Rosary Hill College. She earned a master's degree in special education from Buffalo State College and an administration degree from the University of Buffalo.
She taught elementary school for 18 years, and was principal at Alden Primary for 13 years. She retired in August, 2001. A month later, the United States was attacked, and she returned as acting superintendent that fall when Superintendent Donald W. Raw Jr. was called up to serve in the Army Reserve. While he was gone, she redecorated his office, carefully hanging all of his photos and mementos until he returned a year later.
"When he comes back he's going to have a better room," Muller recalled her sister saying. "The office was kind of sterile, and she said, 'I can't work in here.'"
As principal, she was known to ride the school bus to calm unruly children.
"She did everything gently, she was never nasty or harsh, she was always very calm," Mueller said. "She took everything in stride."
And when children behaved, they got to come to her office to see her pet iguana, Iggy, and feed crickets to her pet tarantulas.
On Halloween, one of her favorite holidays, Mrs. Ryan was one of the biggest kids in the school. She was known for the costumes she wore to lead the parade of children and teachers, including Pokemon and Winnie the Pooh. The teachers also dressed up in the themes she chose: when she was a queen, they dressed as knights and handmaidens. When the theme was "Rainbow Fish," after a children's book, they dressed as creatures of the sea.
Mrs. Ryan enjoyed traveling, scrapbooking, cooking, baking, entertaining and gardening. She was a member of the Lions Club in Alden and was a finalist in the U.S. Department of Education's National Distinguished Principal award. She and her husband spent winters in Pompano Beach, Fla.
In addition to her sister, she is survived by her husband of 36 years, John "Jack" S. Jr.; her son, John S. III; four sisters, Mary Czechowski, Melissa Machelski, Brenda Langdon and Barbara Pieper, and her brother, James Uebelhoer.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 2021 Sandridge Road, Alden.