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Blood drive honors late pastor

By Alex Perry

St. John’s Episcopal Church will hold a blood drive Wednesday in memory of the Rev. Greg Ryan, who served as pastor at Oakland Christian United Church of Christ on Godwin Boulevard for several years.

Ryan moved to Suffolk with his wife, Terry Schaefer Ryan, and joined Oakland Christian UCC in 2013. He was a warm and friendly face for his congregation and pushed church outreach alongside other congregations in the community.

He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia while on vacation with his wife in May 2016. He died a year later, on May 31, at age 54, while receiving treatment at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, N.C., after his cancer returned from remission in February.

“He has been pivotal in making a difference in people’s lives, and in the things that he espoused and lived for, which is treating people with respect,” said the Rev. Leslie Ferguson of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Oakland Christian UCC members approached Ferguson after Ryan’s death about organizing the blood drive in honor of him.

“We decided this would be a good time to do something in memory of Greg,” Ferguson said. “In speaking with Greg’s wife, Terry, who has been an avid blood donor her entire life, we know this would be something very meaningful to Greg,”

He said Ryan’s passing is a reminder about the necessity of blood and plasma donations to help others in need.

“We’re reminded that we can help others like him,” he said. “This is something that was near and dear to his heart. One of the things Greg really stressed was to help those who are in need within the community. Every blood donation helps somebody with a lifegiving necessity.”

The blood drive will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 828 Kings Highway from 2 to 7 p.m. Donors may sign up for specific donation times in advance and walk-ins are also welcome. Virginia Blood Services staff will be at the church to collect the donations.

Go online at donateblood.vablood.org and enter the code 3767 into the search box to register in advance. Call 255-4168 for more information.