Betty Ryan

Betty Ryan

MADISON/MOUNT HOREB-Betty (Elizabeth) (Handel) Ryan, age 90, of Mt Horeb, WI died on January 4, 2020 at Agrace Hospice, with her family by her side.

Betty was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great, great grandmother, and friend. She was strong, steadfast and humble. She was our rock to lean on, always ready to offer support and encouragement for our bold adventures around town and the globe. She cared for family and friends with warmth and compassion. Her kindness and acts of service to her family, friends, church and community will always be remembered.

Betty was born on March 9, 1929, to Joseph Handel and Mahalia “Mary” Austin Handel in Vermont Township. She grew up on the family farm and attended elementary school in a one room schoolhouse. She graduated as class valedictorian from Black Earth High School in 1947.

Betty met her future husband, Leo Ryan in elementary school. They married on June 18, 1949 at St. James Catholic Church, Vermont Township. Together they raised six children, Marcia (Jack) Theusch of West Bend, Pat (Joseph) Krantz of Verona, Dan Ryan of Madison, Mark Ryan (deceased) Shanna (Robert) Ryan Otto, Salt Lake City, UT and Terri (Michael) O’Brien of Verona. For over 30 years, Betty worked alongside Leo on the farm, milking cows, raising calves and working the fields. After long days on the farm, Betty would cook homemade meals and stay up late to sew a new dress or pair of trousers for her children.

For those who knew Betty, they will remember her devotion to St. Ignatius Catholic Church. She gave generously of her time and energy singing in the choir, teaching religious education and coordinating the kitchen to serve luncheons/meals to hundreds
of people. Everyone has a favorite recipe she handed down including homemade buns, potato salad, vanilla pudding, and how much coffee does it take to make 100 cups.

As the kids grew up, Betty dedicated time to activities her kids were involved in. She coached softball, led the Blue Mounds Busy Mites 4H Club, organized the Blue Mound State Park swim program, and participated in the Mt Horeb AFS chapter, to name a few. For many years, she baked cookies and cheered on the Mt. Horeb Gymnastics Team.

In 1984, the Barneveld tornado devastated the area and impacted many of her family and friends. Betty was a tireless volunteer during the recovery, after which, for over a decade, she was a hostess at Betsy’s Kitchen in Barneveld.

Betty was a devoted grandmother “granny” and dearly loved by her grandchildren. She enjoyed spending time with them hosting sleepovers, baking, playing gin rummy, doing puzzles and spoiling them. She attended hundreds of sporting and music events to see them perform. Later in life, Betty and Leo enjoyed traveling to Ireland, Rome, Alaska and out west to visit their children. She also enjoyed watching Brewers and Badger games and all things Irish.

Betty is survived by five children, ten grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren (with one on the way), and one great-great grandchild (with one on the way), her in-laws, James Ryan of Fitchburg, Mary Ann Myers of Barneveld, Monica Brattlie of Mt Horeb, Colleen and Maurice McCormick of McFarland and Dee and Don Williams of Rockford, IL, many nieces and nephews, other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Leo; son, Mark; infant sons, Donald, Ronald and Paul; son-in-law John “Jack” Theusch; infant grandsons, Michael and Matthew Krantz; her parents; her siblings and in-laws, Barbara and Lawrence Sutter, Joseph “Bud” and Ione Handel, Wilfred and Magdeline “Madge” Handel, Joseph Myers, Carroll “Reg” Brattlie, Jeanette Ryan, Joseph and Clarice Ryan, and Vincent and Doris Ryan.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 11:00AM at ST THOMAS AQUINAS Catholic Church, 602 Everglade Drive, Madison with Father Bart Timmerman officiating. Visitation will be at the church prior to the Mass service from 9:00AM to start of the Mass. Burial will be at St James Cemetery, Vermont Township.

The family is grateful for the wonderful care Betty received in her final days.

Memorials on Betty’s behalf may be made to the Agrace Hospice Foundation ( or the Women’s Care Center of Madison (