A Family Funeral Home

John P. Ryder

January 5, 1947 - August 20, 2022
Racine, WI


Life Story / Obituary


John Peter Ryder was born January 5, 1947 to William and Jeanette (Hill) Ryder in Racine, Wisconsin. He died August 20, 2022 at the age of 75. A lot of life was lived in that time.

He married his high school sweetheart, Cindy Cain on January 22, 1966. A graduate of Wm. Horlick High School, he went on to earn his electrical engineering degree from UW-Milwaukee. Fresh out of college he was offered a position with Texas Instruments, but that would have taken him far from home. He worked at Square D and later his dad fell ill and John stepped in to run the family business, Mill City and Mr. Hub’s retail stores downtown Racine. In the mid 1980s he expanded the business to the outlet mall in Kenosha and again in the 1990s with another store in Gurnee Mills. In his 50s John returned to UWM nights and weekends to earn his MBA and after his long stint in retail, he was a stockbroker in Chicago, a retail liquidation consultant and ended his storied career in real estate.

He and Cindy had three brilliant children. His oldest, Steve, became a surgeon, his middle child Missy a lifelong educator and grade school principal, and his youngest Katy works in marketing and communications. They have ten grandchildren and will undoubtedly have plenty of great grandchildren yet to come.

John was raised in a house across from the Zoo on Main Street and grew up riding bikes with his friends throughout the neighborhood, and ice skating at the Zoo pond in winter. He played the upright bass and the accordion. His dad used to drop him and his mom off at church on Sunday mornings then go to a local tavern. John was known to sneak out of church on more than one occasion to join his dad at the bar, which made his dad happy - his mom, not so much.

He played football in high school and owned a 1964 Honda 90 motorcycle that he used to take Cindy on rides to the submarine races at Shoop Park. He never missed a football game of his son’s, and had many signature sayings - his girls' fancy shoes were always 'dippy', the only acceptable nail polish color was 'clear with a tint', and he claimed he would go on every date his kids ever had and sit between them. He believed in giving his kids presents when they were sick to help them feel better, the most famous of which was a stuffed bear bearing a sash proclaiming its name as 'Super Bear, Super Price'. He always had music on in the house, especially on Sunday mornings - loud, booming beautiful classical music. Sundays were reserved as family days - walking or cross-country skiing in Petrifying Springs Park, trips to the Field Museum or brunch at Kilbourn Gardens in the early days, and lazy time around the pool with brats and burgers as the family grew older. His favorite mornings were Christmas morning when he could watch the smile on his kids' faces, and Easter when he would stump them for hours searching for their Easter baskets, sometimes suspended on his HAM Radio antenna 50 feet in the air.

Any time there was a pizza to be picked up, he would undoubtedly eat a few pieces before returning home, sometimes maybe a whole pie. He had a huge heart, often giving away socks from his store, or other clothes to those in need downtown. His generosity was endless, he had a ton of patience with his family and always gave everyone a second chance. He was stronger than oak on the outside but cried at all the important parts. His family was everything.

He is survived by his wife Cindy whom he loved more than there are stars in the sky and kissed every morning and night; his son Steve (Michelle) Ryder; daughters, Missy (Don) Damaschke, Katy (Ryan) Pettersen; grandchildren Sammi, Jake, Mitch, Alex, Carly, Maggie, Donny, Corrin and Anna; many other extended family members and very close lifelong friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Bill ‘Red’, and grandson Tyler.

A private celebration will be held at his house because, really, he didn't like to go too many places. In a final act of selflessness, John donated his body to the Medical College of Wisconsin, his son's alma mater. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Racine Zoological Society where he spent countless Sunday afternoons with his family or the Healthcare Network.

His family thanks the first responders who attempted to save his life and the caring hospital staff and doctors at Ascension All Saints for their compassion in his final time on this earth.