Allan Ryan, Jr. was a long-time adjunct professor at Boston College Law School, a tireless advocate for victims of the Holocaust, and, to his friend Professor Mark Brodin, “the most delightful person.” Ryan passed away on January 26 at his home in Norwell, Mass. He was 77.
A native of Cambridge, Mass., Ryan graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Minnesota Law School. A clerk to Supreme Court Justice Byron White, he then served as a captain in the Marine Corps. His daughter Elisabeth Ryan ’06 said he was proud of his military service and loved reconnecting with veterans and active-duty military students at BC Law.
Starting in 1980, Ryan worked for the Office of Special Investigations at the Department of Justice tracking down Nazis who, fleeing prosecution in Germany, settled in the United States. His work helped deport war criminals to face prosecution in their home countries for their role in the Holocaust.
Those accomplishments set him up as a giant in the field of Holocaust prosecution, history, and scholarship. He brought world-class expertise to the Law School, where he taught generations of law students the law of war from 1990 to 2019. It was this teaching, Elisabeth Ryan said, that was the highlight of his life. “He loved teaching.”
Brodin said that Ryan’s students were “inspired and engaged in the work around the Holocaust, inspired by his legacy.” Such was Ryan’s goal; he wanted to bring his experience prosecuting these crimes to new generations of students.
His daughter said of her time at BC Law when Ryan was a professor: “Everyone who took his class loved his class, including my classmates. I’m proud he taught there.”