Mary Ethel Hodges Ryan

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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John 16:22: So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice and no one will rob you of your joy.
Mary Ethel Hodges Ryan of Elizabethton has passed away. She suffered for several years with Alzheimer’s and her family and friends suffered with her. Only those familiar with the disease can understand the sorrow that loved ones have as they watch a mind and body be here, but not be here. Whose eyes look at you, dark and deep yet giving no sign of recognition. Losing the ability to walk, talk, eat and drink. Who will smile now and then and make our world brighter for a brief moment. The long goodbye.
Mary was an angel that touched the lives of many. She was beautiful inside and out and carried herself like a fashion model or a Pole Dancer as her husband told how he met her at a nightclub in Kingsport while in college. She could have been a pole dancer but she was really a wife, mother and an Administrative Assistant at the Smyth County Virginia Career and Technology Center. She worked under three Principals, with many close faculty members, and hundreds of students over the many years helping others with their lives. Mary was inducted into the Smyth County Tech Center Hall of Fame in 2012.
Mary was the daughter of Paul and Jessie Hodges, growing up in the Central Community of Carter County. She was a 1963 graduate of Happy Valley High School. She was a Sophomore Class officer, Pep Club Officer, FHA member, Bible Club member, Annual Staff Editor, Junior Class Homecoming Representative, President Beta Club, Most Popular Senior Class, Graduation Grand Marshall, DAR Good Citizenship award winner, Girls State Representative, Honor Grad, Homecoming Attendant Senior year, and member of the Bowling League.
Mary grew up in Sinking Creek Baptist Church and she and Dick were later married there. She attended ETSU until daughter, Christina Leigh, was born. Mary and family lived in Titusville, Florida, Saltville and Chilhowie, Virginia. Mary attended Riverside Baptist in Chilhowie and also Chilhowie Methodist Church. Mary was always very active in her churches and became a member of the First United Methodist Church in Elizabethton after she and family moved back home.
Mary and Dick were Grand Marshals of the Chilhowie Virginia Apple Festival parade in 2016 and spent much of their time doing volunteer work with the libraries, Chilhowie Town Park and walking trail. Mary was designated as one of SMYTH COUNTY’S MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, recognized for her volunteer and career work. She was also a volunteer ambassador at the Smyth County Tourism Center.
Both being in the school business, Mary probably attended over 500 athletic events beginning at their first stop in Titusville, and continuing at Rich Valley High School, and Chilhowie Middle School. She was usually present at not only athletic events, but band concerts, Choir and Band competitions, spelling bees, and anything having to do with the schools or Town and County events. Mary helped start the Friends of the Chilhowie Public Library and was their first President.
Mary’s daughter Christy says, “Mom was one of the smartest and talented people I have ever known. She was so meticulous, after breaking her arm in a fall at home, she had to put on her makeup, comb her hair and change clothes before letting me take her to the Emergency Room. She could do anything from sewing beautiful dresses for her grandchildren to laying a brick fireplace in our den. She was one of the few who could adjust the carburetors on our MGB Convertible. She loved supporting dad as he played ball and then coached for many years. She loved her grandchildren more than life and loved to play with them and watch them grow up. But most of all mom loved her Lord and I know she will be celebrated in Heaven by her loved ones and will be sick no more.”
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Jessie (Berry) and Paul Hodges, and brother, Jerry Hodges.
She is survived by her husband, Richard (Dick) Ryan; daughter, Christina and husband Mike Brand; granddaughters, Jessica Woodall and husband Dan Campbell, Delaney Woodall, Brogan Woodall, Piper Woodall, and grandson, Gunner Woodall Ryan and fiancée, Emma Prescott; great-grandsons, Javion and Jamari Jones; nephews, Jerry, Todd and Steve Hodges; and niece, Laura Susan Slagle; sister-in-law, Patsy Grady and husband Derwood; her aunts, Betty Berry, Wanda Hodges; several cousins; her best friend, Donna Mast Smith, and many friends.
Our deepest thanks to the many friends who helped Mary in her final time: neighbors, Sharon Culler, Susan Hathaway, Mr. and Mrs. Shelby Miller, Hillview Health Center, Christian Assisted Living and the wonderful caregivers there. Our local Alzheimer’s Association, the First United Methodist Church of Elizabethton, her many friends and colleagues in Smyth County, Virginia, Doctor Ryan Hackett, who has been so caring and in-touch with Mary and Dick. Doctor Hackett has been what all doctors should be. To Caris Healthcare Hospice and especially Taylor and Cassidy, who always gave their best and beyond. Our friends at the Johnson City Memorial Park Community Center. Tetrick Funeral Home and Happy Valley Memorial Park, especially Bill and Richard Tetrick.
“I have you fast in my fortress, and will not let you depart, but put you down into the dungeon, in the round-tower of my heart. And there will I keep you forever, yes, forever and a day, all the walls shall crumble to ruins and moulder in dust away. The Children’s Hour~ Longfellow.
Mary is an organ donor and will then be cremated.
The family wishes to invite family and friends to join them in a visitation to be conducted from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday, June 23, 2023 in the Chapel of Peace of Tetrick Funeral Home in Elizabethton. Flowers are welcome and a donation may be made in Mary’s name to your favorite charity. Condolences may be sent to the family by mail at 706 Woodland Drive, Elizabethton, Tennessee 37643 or by email at
Tetrick Funeral Home of Elizabethton is honored to serve the family of Mrs. Mary Ethel Ryan.

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