Richard Ryerson

January 25, 2024


Memorial services for Richard Norman Ryerson will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, January 26, 2024, at the First United Methodist Church with Rev. Taylor Anderson officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Marshall Funeral Home of Alva.

Richard Norman Ryerson, son of the late Norman Albert and Mildred (Starr) Ryerson, was born on August 9, 1937, at Alva, Oklahoma, and went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on January 12, 2024, at Edmond, Oklahoma, at the age of 86 years.

Richard was raised in his hometown of Alva, where he graduated from Alva High School with the Class of 1955. From there, he attended the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a Business Finance degree, graduating in 1959.

During his time at OU, Ryerson was active in Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, the Men’s Glee Club, and the “Pride of Oklahoma” marching band. The band performed at OU football games throughout the country including the Orange, Sugar, and Cotton Bowls, as well as Notre Dame Stadium. Additionally, as an undergraduate, Ryerson was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Richard’s senior year, he was named the recipient of the Wall Street Journal Achievement Award as the Outstanding Senior in the College of Business Administration.

While at OU, Richard met the love of his life, Johnece Ellen Houghlin. They were married at the Pauls Valley Methodist Church on June 12, 1959. Upon graduation, they moved to Lawton, Oklahoma to start their life together. Richard was assigned active duty at the United States Army’s Ft. Sill military base, where he graduated at the top of his class in officer artillery advanced training. After his years of active duty, Ryerson continued his service in the Army National Guard as Captain and Headquarters Battery Commander of the 189th Field Artillery Battalion of the 45th Division, a post he held for twelve years.

Following his military service, Richard assumed management duties of the W.W. Starr Lumber Company, a business started by his grandfather in 1909. For over 50 years, Ryerson managed the day-to-day operations of Starr Lumber with locations in Alva, Blackwell, Enid, and Woodward. He also served in various leadership capacities of industry trade groups such as the Oklahoma Lumber Association and Mid-America Lumber Association.

Richard was active in many other arenas outside of his primary business. In 1998, Ryerson was appointed by Governor Frank Keating to serve as Regent for BOROC, the Board of Regional Oklahoma Colleges. During his nine-year term, Richard was involved in numerous campus building projects throughout the state, selected several college presidents, and was named Chairman of the Board of Regents.

Ryerson was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church, as well as founder and board member of Community Bank of Alva. He was active in various leadership roles with the Woods County Industrial Development Committee, Alva Chamber of Commerce, Northwest Family Service Center, Bill Johnson Correctional Center, and Alva Kiwanis Club (where he played piano). Upon his death Richard was the longest tenured Kiwanis member in the state of Oklahoma.

Throughout his lifetime, Richard was recognized in many different areas. One of the most important honors included being selected as a “Distinguished Goldbug” in 2017. This award meant so much to him, as he was always proud to share with anyone that he was a Goldbug.

Richard was preceded in death by his parents, Norman and Mildred Ryerson, and his wife of 59 years, Johnece Ryerson.

He is survived by his daughter, Julia Ryerson Witherington of Plano, Texas, and her children, Elizabeth, Sarah, and David Witherington; and a son, John and daughter-in-law, Amy Ryerson of Alva, Oklahoma, and their children, Ben, Katherine, and Madeline; other relatives and many friends.

Memorial contributions may be made through the funeral home to honor Richard’s life to the First United Methodist Church of Alva, the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation, or the Alva Goldbug Education Foundation (checks made to CFO/AGEF).

Remembrances may be shared with the family at