Tom Ryan, owner of Republic of Floyd, and a longtime asset to Floyd, died today of a massive heart attack while a rescue squad unit was transporting him to the hospital.
Tom had opened the store but wasn’t feeling well and went to a friend’s house for help.
The news hit all of us like a sledgehammer. Tom was more than a store owner. He was a businessman, a major player at one time in the area Chamber of Commerce, a writer who delighted fans with the Floyd County Enquirer, distributed via email and on the web, the one-time bartender at Pine Tavern and a promoter who brought many musical acts to the Pine and other venues.
He was also a good friend.
Tom was a character in every sense of the word and the Republic of Floyd was not just a shop to buy things but a stop during a visit to town to talk and catch up on what was happening in the area.
Often you could find him on the front porch of the Republic store, smoking one of his hand-rolled cigarettes and pontificating about the ironies of life in Floyd. Tom as a master storyteller, an observer of the absurdities of life, a writer and commentator with a sharp writing style and a biting sense of humor who cut to the quick, but never with malice.
Tom loved Floyd and the lifestyle here and many visitors as well as town regulars frequented his shop or enjoyed music at the shows he promoted at the Pine.
When I saw him on Friday, we discussed upcoming updates and changes to the Republic of Floyd web site as he filled out the vendor form for this summer’s FloydFest. He had just returned from a trip south to visit his sick mother. She died during the visit
He will be missed and Floyd will not be the same without him.