Fresnan John Ryle remembered for marketing, political work

The Fresno BeeApril 15, 2014 

John Ryle

RALPH V. THRONEBERY — Fresno Bee file photo

"Don't complain. Don't explain."

It was a Henry Ford quote that John Ryle lived by.

Mr. Ryle was remembered by family and friends for not just one thing, but many: His involvement in Fresno included working extensively in public relations and advertising; campaigning for politicians like former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry and state legislator Ken Maddy; being marketing director of The Big Fresno Fair; and working on Mike Reynold's successful "Three Strikes" campaign.

"He was the consummate gentleman," Autry said of Mr. Ryle, who died April 9.

Mr. Ryle was raised in Fresno where the Save Mart Center now stands when it was Helm Ranch, and was given the middle name Clayton after the doctor who delivered him.

He was a Fresno High School graduate, and graduated from Fresno State with a journalism degree when the school was still called Fresno State College.

He began working for the newspaper Fresno Guide covering government, politics and City Hall, said Lorraine Salazar, Mr. Ryle's longtime companion.

"He got to know a lot of people in City Hall. He made connections and gained interest in that," she said.

Mr. Ryle left the Fresno Guide to work for Al Geller at Mister Media, a public relations firm, becoming the vice president in 1969. There he wrote ads, handled accounts and worked on his first political campaign.

In 1969, Mr. Ryle was appointed to the Fresno County Planning Commission.

A few years later, Mr. Ryle met Dalton Moore, a top political campaign adviser, and they opened an advertising agency called Ryle, Moore & Walker in the Tower District.

After working together for many years, Mr. Ryle and his partners went separate ways, and Mr. Ryle became an independent political consultant. He worked in Sacramento as a special assistant to Assemblyman Ken Maddy, who later became a state senator.

In 1986, Mr. Ryle began working as the marketing director for the Fresno Fair.

"John was instrumental in the record-breaking attendance, getting and promoting big acts and getting the radio stations involved," Salazar said. "He was very proud of that time."

In the early '90s, Mr. Ryle had his own public relations firm, JRPR, until 2006 when he worked on his last campaign for Scott Miller, who ran for the District 1 Fresno City Council seat, losing by nearly 600 votes to current Councilman Blong Xiong.

"He had many wins in his life, and he was responsible for getting a lot of people elected," Salazar said.

One of those people was Mike Briggs, who ran for council in 1994.

"His reputation preceded him," Briggs said. "...When I finally got to meet him, he became my mentor. It meant a lot that he took time to mentor young people in politics."

In his time off, Mr. Ryle vacationed at his home in Capitola. He held season tickets for the Raiders, whether the team in Oakland Raiders or Los Angeles. In his later years, no matter where he went, he took his black poodle, Mika.

"He was a great thinker and strategist," Salazar said. "He thought outside the box, and in any situation he knew how to solve the issue."

John Ryle

Born: Sept. 12, 1935

Died: April 9, 2014

Occupation: Public relations man, political consultant

Survived by: Significant other Lorraine Salazar, brother William Ryle, daughter Corinne Cardoza, grandchildren Grace and Joseph Cardoza

Services: Celebration of life 2:30 p.m. April 25 at the Painted Table, 1211 N. Wishon Ave. in Fresno

Arrangements: Chapel of the Light Funeral Home.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or bvaccari@fresnobee.com.

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