Obituary: Leo Ryan

At SSOA we first came to know Leo Ryan when he submitted his manuscript for An Extraordinary Relationship. It was a remarkable text which addressed the importance of exposing and rejecting violence against women in relationships.

We discovered that there was also a remarkable man behind the text. Over the time he attended writing groups to work on his memoir, Leo revealed his fascinating life story.

Born into a farming family as a younger son, Leo initially chose the church for his career path, and was ordained as a Catholic priest, training for a large part of one year at the Vatican, and working in rural Australia. After leaving the priesthood he became a counsellor.

Leo was a very kind man, gentle and wise in his interactions with fellow writers. But he was not a man who ever let convention prevent him from following his conscience. His exit from the priesthood came after he prioritised the wellbeing of his parishioners above the orders of the Vatican on matters of doctrine.

Leo also wrote passionately and eloquently on the topic of veganism. He and his wife, Gunilla, both became committed vegans after reading about the cruelty in the meat industry.

He had loyal friendships, evident in the number of his friends who celebrated his success at the launch of his book at Dymocks, Neutral Bay. 

Leo’s wife died just last year after a long period of dementia, during which time he continued to attend to her needs. He had moved to Canberra to be nearer his children shortly before his death.

We were all very privileged to have known Leo, and to have published his book. We will miss him very much.

Tributes received for Leo from SSOA members:

Leo was such a sweet and gentle man. I didn’t know him well but took an instant liking to him from the moment we met. He was a real crusader for veganism and for compassion for animals as well. I hope he is at peace now and with his beloved. – Helena Ameisen

I am saddened to think Leo has died. I thought he was a lovely person. So supportive of me! –Jenny Sheldon

That is really sad news. He was kind and thoughtful. I will miss him. I’m grateful that he was able to attend my Book Launch of BGU and what complimentary observations he made of my writing that meant a lot to me. – Wil Roach

I remember Leo, a very nice man. Life is so fragile and so omnipresent with loss. – Sara Roney Hess

Sad news indeed. I remember Leo. Lovely chap. – Charles Dodgson

I only met Leo once, however I’m sad to hear of his passing. His writing legacy will keep him alive for all. – Di Harding


  1. 22 April, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Thank you, Christine, for posting Leo`s thoughtful obituary. Wil

    Reply »
  2. Sharon Dean
    14 May, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    What a beautiful post, Chris. Loved getting to know Leo, who easily found ways to relate to everyone he met. A true champion for animals and kindness.

    Reply »

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