Wayne Ryan was a popular Dixieland Jazz musician in the Eugene area between 1935 and 1953. His primary instrument was the trumpet but later went on to play the organ and the accordion. Wayne Ryan and his Dixieland Band frequently played at the Swimmer’s Delight Saturday night dances.
Wayne Ryan was born and raised in Grants Pass, Oregon and moved to Eugene in 1935 where he owned and operated a dry cleaner business, Rose Cleaning. In December 1940, he married Marion Gwilliams who had a 3 year old son, Gary.
In a phone interview with Gary Gwilliams, he fondly recalled those days in Eugene, “We would have a “breakfast” dinner with eggs, toast and bacon, then go up to Swimmer’s Delight as a family. Wayne and his band played the music and my mom, now she loved to dance. I was too young to go inside, so I hung around outside by the car. Swimmer’s Delight had a great swimming hole and picnic area too.”
In 1953, the family moved to Seattle, Washington where they managed a store and sold Stanley Home Products. While in Seattle, Wayne continued to play for the local Elks and Moose dances.
In 1968, due to Marion’s health issues, they to move to Ogden Utah to be closer to her family. Here, Wayne owned and operated Mr. Steak Restaurant for 10 years in the 1970s.
Wayne Ryan lived to be 94 years old. He continued to play music throughout his life, switching from trumpet to organ and accordion as he grew older (due to less lung capacity). His greatest claim to fame was… playing every New Year’s Eve Dance for 50 consecutive years. Another proud accomplishment was recording an album (78) with his Dixieland band.
Source: Phone interview with Gary Gwilliams, 10/22/2014; Obituary, Standard–Examiner (Ogden, Utah) July 22, 2004