May 2024 Member Spotlight – Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith grew up in the DC area and except for college at Purdue University and a six-month adventure finding himself in San Francisco he’s lived here since.  Do ask Ryan about San Francisco and the return to Virginia you’ll enjoy the story as much as you’ll enjoy Ryan telling it.  Enjoyment of life is a major theme in Ryan’s life.  There are many small pleasures in his life like a fondness for West Coast IPA, Crowded House, and Chris Isaak, trips to Idaho where there’s a lake house and a loving extended family, birding, fantasy football, and athletics.  Ryan is a runner and may take up marathoning again.

And then there are big things like being a husband to Christa and a father to Basil and Calvin and filling that same role for his younger stepsister Aria who needed a place to grow up when she was fourteen.  Ryan also survived emergency brain surgery a few years ago.  UUCSS support was critical to helping the family through this very tough time.  Ever the athlete, Ryan now works out on Saturday morning with his neurosurgeon.

Ryan was raised with no religion and Christa with a strong Catholic father and an areligious mother.  So, the only logical approach to marriage was eloping to Las Vegas.  After Basil arrived they began looking for a religious community that was free-thinking without fixed answers.  Their initial experience at another congregation did not work out but they tried UUCSS and Ryan remembers being welcomed by Dorothy Hale and others.  Now Ryan is on the Welcoming crew along with Sunday Support and was on the Ministerial Transition Team through our two interim ministers.  While this quote originally was about helping Aria, it really says a lot about who Ryan is, “True acts of love take sacrifice, hard work, and years of dedication but the results are indisputable. This experience taught me to always lead with love and to discover that the true “meaning of life” is to lift others up whenever they are down. Do whatever you can to get the wind in their sails and you will reap the rewards with them along their journey.” We are lucky to have Ryan in our community.