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THE JOHN J. RYAN INSURANCE AGENCY

THE JOHN J. RYAN INSURANCE AGENCY

THE JOHN J. RYAN INSURANCE AGENCY
June 29
08:15 2021

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

THE JOHN J. RYAN INSURANCE AGENCY

I00 Years of Serving Clients and the Community

By Elisabeth Boone, CPCU

The birth of the John J. Ryan Insurance Agency resulted from a 1920 amendment to the United States Constitution. With the inception of Prohibition, the pub outside the entrance at the Charlestown (Massachusetts) Navy Yard was closed. John J. Ryan, a.k.a. Jack Ryan, had operated the pub and suddenly found he had to reinvent himself. This led to the establishment in Brighton, Massachusetts, of the Ryan and Flaherty Real Estate and Insurance Agency, located at 292 Washington Street, opposite the police station.

John “Bud” Ryan and John J. Ryan, circa 1938.

In 1927, Jack, who also had experience in construction, built the agency’s new building at 376 Washington Street, which is home to the agency to this day. Frank Flaherty retired from the partnership in 1933. Jack Ryan’s daughter, Elinor Ryan, affectionately known by one and all as “Aunt El,” graduated from college and joined the agency in 1939.

Jack passed away in January 1942. His son, John “Bud” Ryan, joined the agency upon his return from service in the China Burma India Theater of World War II.

In the late 20th century, Bud’s daughter Jean Ryan, together with Mary Toomey, of another well-known Brighton family, took over the agency. In 2010, Jean passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Meanwhile, Bud’s son and Jean’s brother, John J. Ryan Jr., a.k.a. Jack Ryan, had been practicing as an insurance defense lawyer. He started with the firm of Parker, Coulter, Daley & White and ultimately was one of the founding partners of the firm of Ryan, Coughlin and Betke, now Coughlin Betke LLP.

An award received to celebrate the agency’s service to its community.

About the time that Jean became ill, Jack started losing his hearing as the result of Meniere’s disease. By the time of his sister’s passing, Jack was no longer able to hear well enough in a courtroom to try cases. With Jean’s passing and Mary Toomey’s desire to retire, this second Jack Ryan took over the agency in 2010 and operates the agency to this day, some 100 years after his grandfather, Jack Ryan, founded it.

Today and going forward

The John J. Ryan Insurance Agency has always been a small agency, employing just a handful of agents and other employees. From its inception, the agency’s guiding principle has been service to its clients and service to the community.

The firm now serves the fourth generation of clients who originally were with the agency at the start. Service to those clients, including personal, commercial, and professional lines, has always been paramount in good times and in bad, through the Depression, World War II, several recessions, and now a pandemic.

Though the agency had its birth in Brighton, its clients include multiple generations of insureds from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, and everywhere in between.

Though the agency had its birth in Brighton, its clients include multiple generations of insureds from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, and everywhere in between.

As the years have passed since Prohibition led to creation of the agency, the firm has adapted to new methods and technologies for doing business more effectively, while maintaining its guiding principle of personal contact with and personal service to every client. Its principals believe that no matter how times and technologies may change, individual attention to clients is the bedrock of any service industry.

The author

Elisabeth Boone, CPCU, is a freelance journalist based in St. Louis, Missouri.

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