Paul A. Ryan, Owner of Smokey Joe’s Tavern on Penn Campus
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Paul Anthony Ryan, who for decades owned and operated Smokey Joe’s tavern on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, died of cancer Sunday. He was 66.
Ryan bought Smokey Joe’s in 1952. As the business prospered and the university grew, the tavern became a campus institution.
When President Gerald Ford came to Penn in 1975 to give a commencement speech, he said: ″There are 16 institutions of higher learning at the University of Pennsylvania, 17 if you count Smokey Joe’s.″
Ryan’s son, Joe, told The Philadelphia Daily News that the friendly tavern owner was a father figure to many of the students who were his customers over the years. Alumni visiting town often made sure to stop by Smokey Joe’s to relive memories.
A friend, Gene Brennan, said Ryan also served at times as a financial aid officer.
″He gave a lot of advances to students and loans that sometimes the students forgot to pay back,″ said Brennan, who also called Ryan ″an ace, one of the nicest guys I ever met.″
Ryan, in a 1976 interview with the Daily News, went over some of the history of the bar.
″I can’t tell you how many titans of industry and big politicians started out tending bar or drinking here,″ he said. ″We’ve had our share of show business and sports celebrities, too.″
Among Smokey Joe’s alumni, he listed Joan Baez, Paul Whiteman and Candice Bergen.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Carol; six sons; two daughters and 17 grandchildren.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia. Friends may call after 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Donohue Funeral Home in Upper Darby. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken.
Contributions may be made to the Mother House of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Bensalem, or to the Convent of Divine Love in Philadelphia.