NY Veteran's Lifelong 'Secret' Revealed In Heartbreaking Obituary Going Viral

A decorated veteran and retired firefighter from upstate New York is going viral for his heartbreaking posthumous revelation.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan.

Photo Credit: Hans Funeral Home

Lifelong Rensselaer County resident Col. Edward Thomas Ryan, of Rensselaer, died with a long-kept secret that rendered him “afraid of being ostracized,” he wrote in his own obituary, which was published in the Albany Times Union on Saturday, June 8.

"I must tell you one more thing. I was gay all my life: thru grade school, thru high school, thru college, thru life,” Ryan wrote.

“I'm sorry for not having the courage to come out as gay. I was afraid of being ostracized: by family, friends, and co-workers. Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it. Now that my secret is known, I'll forever rest in peace."

Ryan also revealed that he was in a “loving and caring relationship” with a North Greenbush man for over two decades before the man’s death in 1994 following a medical procedure.

“He was the love of my life. We had 25 great years together,” Ryan said. “I'll be buried next to Paul.”

According to his obituary, Ryan was a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, was a past chairman of the Vietnam Veterans/Agent Orange Committee for the American Legion, and was a retired Rensselaer firefighter.

He was also one of the founders and original owners of Albany radio station WHRL-FM, now owned by iHeart Media. His age, branch of military service, and date of death were not given.

Ryan’s memorial has been shared widely across social media, with hundreds posting tributes to a man they never knew but whose story resonates with them.

“I'm heartbroken you had to live your life in silence but so happy to hear of your life with Paul,” reads one tribute. “May the two of you rest in peace, together forever.” 

Click here to view Ryan's complete obituary.

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