Beautiful runner, hands-on father,
zest for life, full of humor, caring.
Ryan, his twin brother, Matt, and their younger sister Katie grew up in Pasadena, Maryland with loving parents, Denise and Tim Williams.
Ryan was always a bundle of energy. He became a track and cross-country natural athlete at Northeast High School and later at Howard Community College where he received many accolades. Observers said he ran with joy – like he was dancing on air.
He and Matt loved extreme sports. They jumped out of airplanes and became certified scuba divers. They shared many of the same friends growing up. But, in other ways, the boys were quite different. Matt was quieter, while Ryan was more outgoing.
Ryan developed a keen sense of humor at a young age and soon discovered he could make people laugh, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He had dreams of earning a college degree in business so that he could go into management at his father’s welding shop one day.
However, that plan changed when he dropped out of college five credits shy of earning a degree after he found out he was going to be a father. He went from working at his father’s welding shop on a part-time basis to full-time to be able to support his family and buy a house. He wanted to take care of his son, Gavin. He was a superior dad.
Meanwhile, he struggled with financial issues and responsibilities of being a father and homeownership in his early 20s. Eventually his relationship with his son’s mother fell apart and he lost the house, forcing him to move back home with his parents.
At the time, Ryan’s twin brother, Matt, who was fighting his own battle with addiction, was also living at their parents’ home.
With Ryan being in a vulnerable state when he moved home, it didn’t take long until he started using drugs with his brother, Matt.
Ryan’s addiction progressed to the point that he wanted to go into treatment but was told he had to wait 30 days because of insurance. On the 25th day he overdosed and died in his parent’s home.
Denise said Ryan’s death inspired her to form a non-profit with another grieving parent. They raise money now to help those in recovery pay insurance co-pays, personal care items, and sober-living expenses.
Denise and her family now share the joy of spending time with Ryan’s son Gavin, who is 11 years old. “Gavin looks like his mother, but has the personality of his father,” Denise said.
Ryan’s mother Denise was interviewed for this profile.
APRIL 28,1985 – JAN. 29, 2015
Lived with addiction 4 years