Howard C. Ryan was born in Tonica, June 17, 1916. He was educated at LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College and the University of Illinois (B.A., LL.B., J.D.) and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945. He practiced law privately in Decatur and Peru from 1946 to 1957 and also served as assistant state’s attorney of LaSalle County (1952-1954) and county judge of LaSalle County (1955-1957). He became a judge of the 13th judicial circuit in 1957 and chief judge of the circuit in 1964, serving in that position until he was elected to the third district appellate court in 1968. He was a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court from 1970 to 1990, serving as chief justice from 1981 to 1984. Justice Ryan is a member of the LaSalle County, Illinois State and American Bar Associations, the American Judicature Society, Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, the Odd Fellows and the Elks. He is also a 33rd degree Mason. Justice Ryan passed away on December 10, 2008, in Peru, Illinois.