Frank Ryan, long-time Auckland mayor and father of Lucy Lawless, dies

Frank Ryan, former mayor of Mt Albert, who died on Friday.
Lauren Priestley

Frank Ryan, former mayor of Mt Albert, who died on Friday.

Frank Ryan (OBE), the Mt Albert mayor who in later life was arguably better known as the father of actor Lucy Lawless, has died. 

An obituary published on Friday said Ryan died peacefully surrounded by his wife Julie and their children. 

He was born in Hamilton, second youngest of eight boys, and one of two sets of twins in the family. He worked as a real estate agent and insurance broker, and in 1960 married Julie, a teacher. 

From the mid-90s, media interest in Frank Ryan shifted from his political achievements to questions about his famous ...

From the mid-90s, media interest in Frank Ryan shifted from his political achievements to questions about his famous daughter Lucy.

In 1965 he became a local councillor, and in 1968, with five children under the age of eight, he ran for mayor of Mt Albert. 

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According to a 2010 Stuff article covering the couple's 50th wedding anniversary, he promised Julie that he would build a local library if he was elected, and he went on to beat the incumbent Don Croot. He represented Mt Albert until the 1989 amalgamation, at which point he became a councillor. He was awarded an OBE the same year. He retired from politics in 2001.

Actor and environmental activist Lucy Lawless, whose father Frank Ryan has died.
Supplied

Actor and environmental activist Lucy Lawless, whose father Frank Ryan has died.

The Ryans, who were Catholics, had seven children: Lucy was the first girl after four boys, and another boy and girl followed. In a mid-1990s interview with a women's magazine, by which time Lucy was finding international fame as the star of Xena: Warrior Princess, Ryan said one of his happiest memories was the happy rollicking games the family enjoyed in the neighbourhood around their Mt Albert bungalow. 

"We'd go down the back field and have these great battles with grass clippings and rotten fruit. Lucy would always be right there, giving it her best. She had a great throw – she's got a good strong arm."

In 2006, when he was 73, Ryan underwent operations after being diagnosed with bowel cancer shortly after returning from a Caribbean cruise.

On Friday, Lucy Lawless posted a tweet farewelling her father, that started: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Frank has left the Building." Her message was retweeted 93 times, and many dozens of fans responded with messages of condolence.

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She also posted a tribute on Facebook: "O mio Babbino Caro! A wonderful husband, father and grandfather shuffled off his mortal coil today. So we celebrate his life, his many kindnesses and his public spiritedness. From humble beginnings, he made a sensational job of it. He was lots of fun. Mayor of Mt Albert 1968-1990. Shine on!"

A requiem mass for Frank Ryan will be held at 11am on Tuesday 11th July, at Sacred Heart College Chapel, 250 West Tamaki Road, Glendowie, Auckland.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff was this week also mourning the death of his father.

Bruce Goff, 96, died at Elmwood Hospital in Manurewa on Wednesday, according to an death notice and Phil Goff posted photos of his father on his Facebook page.

 

 - Stuff

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