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Former Seaside Park Councilman Timothy E. Ryan. Photo courtesy of the Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals

Timothy Ryan, ex-councilman who challenged Saxton, dies at 68

Owner of 5 Ocean County funeral homes ran for higher office 5 times

By David Wildstein, August 09 2019 10:31 am

Timothy E. Ryan, a charismatic funeral director who served as a Seaside Park Councilman and sought higher office five times, including the U.S. House of Representatives, died on August 6.  He was 68.

Ryan fought a 11-year battle with cancer.

He became prominent in his community as the owner of the Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals, which now has six locations in Ocean County.

Ryan made his first bid for office in 1989, winning a seat on the Seaside Park Borough Council as a Democrat.  He defeated incumbent Republican Councilman Howard Harms by 138 votes.  GOP Councilwoman Nancy Carlson was re-elected, finishing 109 votes behind Ryan.  Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Florio carried Seaside Park by 113 votes against Republican Jim Courter.

In 1991, Ryan ran for two higher office that year.

He challenged Seaside Park Mayor John Peterson and won 27% of the vote.

Ryan also ran for Ocean County Freeholder – Democrats had won the race two years earlier – but lost badly to incumbents John Bartlett and James Mancini.  While Ryan was the top Democratic vote-getter, he trailed Bartlett by 34,451 votes.

In 1992, Ryan decided to run for Congress against four-term Rep. Jim Saxton (R-Bordentown) in New Jersey’s 3rd district.

He won the Democratic primary with 85% of the vote against Howard Scott Pearlman of Cherry Hill.

Saxton beat Ryan by 57,356 votes, 59%-37%, carrying Cherry Hill with 58%.   Ryan raised just $30,015 and Saxton outspent him by a 14-1 margin.

The candidates for president were essentially tied in the 3rd district that year: Bill Clinton led George H.W. Bush by 920 votes, 40%-40%, with Ross Perot winning 19%.

Ryan ran for the State Senate in the 10th district in 2001, challenging three-term State Sen. Andrew Ciesla (R-Brick).  Ciesla defeated Ryan by 8,720 votes, 57%-43%.

In 2014, Ryan made his final bid for public office.

In a race against longtime Ocean County Freeholder Joseph Vicari, Ryan lost by 17,537 votes, 55%-41%.

Ryan had served as a Seaside Park volunteer firefighter, as a member of the Lavallette Environmental Protection Committee, as president of the Lavallette Board of Public Assistance, and as president of the Holy Name Society at St. Bonaventure Roman Catholic Church in Lavallette.

He also served as a Democratic County Committeeman in Point Pleasant Beach and was president of the Democratic Club there.

He is survived by his wife, Denise, his daughter Erin, two sisters, nieces and nephews.

The Ryan family will receive relatives and friends on August 12 from 2-7 PM at the Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals in Toms River.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on August 13 at 10 AM at St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church in Bayville.

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