Sir George Ryan KCN

June 18, 1934 – George Ryan was born on the island of Montserrat to the late Abraham Ryan, a tailor and Mary Whyke, a domestic worker. He lived in Cork Hill and attended the village school the St. Mary’s Church School.

Ryan had humble beginnings starting to work from an early age to support his siblings.  At 16 (1950), he migrated to Antigua by boat, to be with his mother and to explore opportunities to better himself. He found employment in the construction industry, recalling his first work site under Rev Jack Piper constructing the St. John’s Pentecostal Church. He would find employment with notable contractors George James, Jack Patterson, Donald Christian, and Lee Wescott in that order, building residential and commercial properties including the famous Mill Tower home in Crosbies.

While engaged in the Holberton Hospital project he created a blockmaker producing blocks for the project, and built his first home in Sutherlands, which he never occupied. He opted to rent the house to raise capital to establish himself in the construction field,  He would eventually establish Ryan’s Construction.

In 1963, he married his first wife the late Gweneth Ryan, they produced three sons Paul, Curtis and Lyndon. He also has 4 girls, Donna-Mae, Esley, Anthea and George-ann, the latter with his current wife Joycelyn whom he married in 1991.

George constructed his first commercial building on Branch Avenue in 1970. The property was leased initially to an Airline Company but soon after he opened his own business, the Antigua Plumbing and Hardware Center (APHC) in the building. The business then relocated a few years later to Independence Drive.  With additions to the original site and expansions to the products offered, APHC now occupies the largest footprint of any business in St. John’s.  Not to leave out Montserrat, He opened a satellite store there in 1979 which got engulfed in the Volcano.

Ryan opened his car dealership, Antigua Motors Ltd, in 1970 in Coolidge.  As the business grew, he relocated twice before settling at the current location on Old Parham Road.  His business acumen and eye for opportunities would lead to the opening of the City View Hotel on Newgate Street and Ryan’s Place on High Street; several apartment complexes and other residential properties, as well as commercial properties for rent, and scores of acres of land in Antigua and Monserrat.  He is also a founding shareholder of the former Antigua Barbuda Investment Bank which would become one of the nation’s largest and most diverse financial institutions for decades before it imploded.  He had several partnerships, in land development projects most notably the Jolly Beach Hotel,

He served on several boards including the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHAPA), LIAT, ABIB, ABI Holdings, and Developers Limited Unlimited. He is the current Chairman of The Ryan Group of Companies.

Ryan pays tribute to the firm friendships that were invaluable supporters of his endeavours. He recalls Bernice Cochrane who assisted with the startup of APHC, the Kliemakers of Canada, and his Pentecostal upbringing for his spirit of philanthropy.  He is determined never to forget his roots.

He vested in the education of his children who are involved in the daily management and operations of the various enterprises today and contributing to the expansion of the Ryan Empire. All his children are shareholders and directors of the various enterprises.

Ryan has an extensive philanthropic portfolio.  He is renowned for his support of first-time homeowners in the form of significant discounts and outright donations of building materials and fixtures. Through his construction projects, he offered internships and other opportunities for many to learn a trade.  He contributed direct financial assistance to Government projects to construct schools, playgrounds, and roads.  He provided financial assistance to many individuals and organizations for decades. He is recognised as the first to donate a set of motor vehicles to the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.

In acknowledgment of his outstanding service to community and nation-building, Mr. Ryan received several accolades including:

  • Honorary Degree from the Antigua State College,
  • A Rotary Paul Harris Fellow,
  • The Grand Cross of the Most Illustrious Order of Merit in 2005
  • Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation, KCN in 2018

The life of Sir George Ryan KCN can be surmised with the quote ‘A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that have been thrown at him.’