November 19, 1978, New York Times, page A22, Column 5, He Enjoys Controversy, by Eric Pace,
Representative Ryan has been a versatile activist, viewing travel and its opportunities for getting his views across to the public as prime aspects of his role as a Congressman.
"If I had my way, every Congressman would go oversees to find out about what is going on there," he said in a Washington interview in 1973. "It is the function of the Congressional branch to act on behalf of the people to check the actions of the executive branch. The executive branch flies everywhere, all the time."
An earlier fact-finding trip this year, to observe baby-seal hunting in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, brought an angry tongue-lashing from the province's Minister of Industrial and Rural Development.
"It's just a cheap political trick," the Minister, John Lundrigan, said after the Congressman arrived by helicopter at the hunt site. "You've taken your stand. You've already clobbered us. So now you're back to find out the facts. Is that American?"
But Mr. Ryan enjoys the controversy and drama of the political life. In 1973, when he was being made up to appear as a clown at a special circus performance in Washington, he told an interviewer that he had gone from studying Elizabethan drama in college to Congress to the circus.
"It's all the same," he said with a grin. "I'm still trying to create an impression, to give the people a message."
Leo Joseph Ryan was born May 5, 1925, in Lincoln, Neb. He enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and served in the submarine service. After the war, he earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Creighton University and went on to become a teacher and school administrator.
Mr. Ryan served in the California Legislature from 1962 to 1972, when he was first elected to Congress. He was regularly re-elected thereafter as the Congressman from San Mateo County, a coastal area that includes suburbs and farm country.
In Washington, Mr. Ryan became chairman of the House Operations Committee's subcommittee on the environment, energy and natural resources.