Life Story / Obituary
In memory of our loving son, Ryan Maddox
July 8, 1992 – June 12, 2021
Ryan was born July 8, 1992 and died June 12, 2021 of natural causes. He would have been 29 in July. He is survived by his parents, Jack Maddox and Jan Garvey, and his brother Dylan Maddox and Paige Stavely. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles and cousins on both the Maddox and Garvey sides of the family. He is survived by his special dog Sadie and several very close friends. He was predeceased by his grandparents, Jim and Adele Maddox and Bill and Ruth Garvey.
Ryan came into our lives in an unusual way and left our lives in an unusual way. This all happened too quickly and he left this earth too soon. He would have been 29 on July 8th.
In November of 1994, the adoption agency we were working with told us that two little boys could be placed in our home that day. We were in Chicago visiting friends and had to zip back to Midland to pick them up. We were totally unprepared - we didn’t have any of the supplies or equipment we needed, but family and friends came to the rescue.
It appears that Ryan died from an aneurysm on Saturday morning. Again, we were totally unprepared and family and friends came to the rescue with their love and support.
When we picked up Ryan as a 28-month-old, we received a hand scratched note from his birth mother. It said “fridge raider, likes trucks, Barney, rap music, likes outside and water play”. Most of that was true to the end! Ryan had a big appetite, was saving money to buy a pickup truck, liked music of all kinds, and really enjoyed working outside. His favorite jobs were in the area of landscaping and yard maintenance, but he realized it would be difficult to make a living doing a seasonal job.
Ryan was a big boy right from the start - 37 lbs. at 28 months. He was active and athletic, loving to pull his little brother Dylan in the wagon. He was quite protective of Dylan. As he got older, he was always big for his age. His shoe size seemed to follow his age - at age 10 he was wearing size 10 shoes and by age 14 he was wearing size 14 shoes. He was full height of 6’1” at 14.
Ryan loved playing sports and was very talented at any sport he tried. Although he was big, he was also fast and coordinated. His favorites ended up being baseball and hockey, which he played through high school. He was an excellent pitcher and one tough hockey player. His nickname was “The Ox”. Playing hockey on Sunday nights with his friends in Traverse City was something Ryan continued to enjoy right until his death.
Ryan made some good friends through hockey, especially Darick, his gaming buddy. Darick said Ryan was shy until he became comfortable, then he would talk his ear off. They would talk about anything, from crazy ‘what if’ scenarios, their trucks, or what he thought he should do next to his house. Darick said there was plenty of laughs, because ultimately that is who he was. He was a great and fun guy to be around.
Ryan lost the vision in one eye when he was a senior in high school. The cause of his vision loss was never known. This didn’t stop him from pitching and having a great senior season. He never complained about losing his sight. He liked ‘cheating’ on eye exams by memorizing the row of letters using his good eye and repeating it when his blind eye was tested. When we first moved to TC, his Uncle Jeff took him to his gun club to shoot skeet. Ryan had to relearn to shoot left-handed. Jeff was always amazed that Ryan shot better than him the first time out.
You rarely saw Ryan without a baseball hat on and wearing something camouflage colored. He loved his Oakley sunglasses and athletic clothing. His favorite color was blue. As an adult, his favorite food was tacos/burritos and he often asked for that when he came for dinner. He poured the spiciest hot sauce on everything he ate. His favorite restaurant was Pearl’s. He worked there for a season and the cooks spoiled him – they made him special meals to eat during his breaks.
Ryan did not always have a beard, but we can barely remember him as an adult without one. His hair and beard grew at a ridiculous rate. We don’t think he ever had his hair cut professionally – dear old mom was his barber right from the start, beginning with the infamous Flowbee. His Uncle Rich brought one to our house on a visit when the boys were small and we were hooked! He would go on spurts where he wouldn’t let mom cut his hair because he was going to grow it out long. Mom wanted to cut his hair before he started his new job at Munson earlier this year, but he was not interested. He had his new ID photo taken, took one look at it and thought it looked ridiculous. He was over that night for a haircut!
Ryan never stopped being a kid. That was maddening at times, but also one of the special things about him. He got excited about birthdays and Christmas, the funny things Sadie did, and playing with his friends’ kids.
Ryan was emotional. As his long-time friend John explained it, “When he loved you, he loved you 110%. When he was mad at you, he was mad 110%.” He was the strongest person we knew. In high school, he didn’t have to work hard to beat the others in the weight room. He was often asked by family and friends to help out where muscle was needed and he was always willing to help. His calf muscles were second to none! We still remember when he was a 4-year-old taking swim lessons at the Midland Community Center. We looked over the crowd of youngsters and there was Ryan with chest muscles and strong arms and legs, while the others had scrawny limbs with concave chests – strong from the start!
Ryan had made some big changes in the past year. He completed his associates degree at NMC in December. He took a new job at Munson, working in their Logistics Department. He quit drinking alcohol for over 6 months and was very proud of his accomplishment. He had lost a significant amount of weight and wanted to get back into better shape. Things seemed to be looking up for him and we were very proud of his accomplishments.
Ryan taught us that achieving your dreams is not as important as having dreams about your future. He loved to talk about the truck he was going to buy, the house in the country where he would move, and his next career move. Ryan never put it in words and probably never told his brother, but Dylan was his hero. Much of what Ryan dreamed about was the life Dylan has. It is very hard to think that he will never have the opportunity to get married, have a family and reach his potential. He loved being around children and at one time considered getting a teaching degree.
Ryan and Dylan had many cousins, but most were girls and quite a bit older. Some, like Katie and Danielle, were babysitters. Evan and Stephen were similar ages and although they lived in another state, the boys got together on school breaks and vacations. Whether it was up at Driggs Lake, in Midland, Ludington or Wisconsin, the four boys always had a great time. Evan and Stephen have recounted many good outdoor memories with Ryan, whether it was pond hockey, ice fishing, tag football games, snow skiing, etc.
Ryan loved all pets. He dog-sat and cat-sat for his Aunt Becky. She said he was so loving with her dogs Rosie and Louie. The dogs were always excited when he came to visit, but his great love is his dog, Sadie. One consolation is that Sadie was at his side when he died. We love Sadie too and she will bring us comfort in the coming weeks and months. We had always worried about what would happen when Sadie dies - Ryan would have been heartbroken. Who would have guessed that now we have to work hard with Sadie so that she is not sad and confused about why ‘the big guy’ is no longer here?
We will miss talking with Ryan about baseball and hockey, new trucks, and cool places for his next house. We will probably even miss some of the frustrating discussions about managing his finances and taking care of himself. His death will leave a large hole in our lives. He will be forever in our hearts.
Memorials in Ryan's name can be made to the Grand Traverse Youth Hockey Association.
Ryan would be pleased to know that so many of you were here today.
Jack, Jan and Dylan Maddox