On the morning of September 1, 2019, the world lost a young man who lit up every room he ever entered and brought a smile to the face of every person he ever met. Ryan Reitmeyer was an awesome and valued friend to hundreds, and he inspired thousands that knew of his challenges and how he so positively dealt with them every moment of his life.
Ryan had an incredible drive to succeed. Barely surviving a 2005 boating accident that left him with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), he overcame inconceivable odds with the help of his family, friends, caretakers, medical experts and the use of advanced technologies from researchers around the world. A native Texan, he went on to live a vibrant, inspiring, and activity-filled life for more than fourteen years.
Although Ryan suffered a fatal aneurysm and ultimately passed away at Seton Williamson County Medical Center on September 1st, his legacy lives on through his having proven the value of miraculous innovations that aided in his recovery. Several of these innovations are now providing hope and help for other TBI sufferers, including returning war veterans.
He was just 43.
An incredible ability to connect
Ryan enjoyed an incredible ability to connect with people and had a deep a love of friends, good times, and life on Lake Travis. At the time of the accident, Ryan's website shared hundreds of photos of family and friends frolicking on weekends in and around Austin.
One of two sons, Ryan was born on July 23, 1976 in Killeen, TX to Doug & Debbie Reitmeyer. Ryan and older brother Sean, a rambunctious, competitive duo, were close from the start. Both were active in the Austin Youth Hockey League and were avid water and snow skiers.
Due to his father's wide-ranging federal contracts, Ryan attended several high schools before skipping his last year, earning his GED, and attending Texas State Technical School.
He bought his first home in Bryan-College Station, where he worked for a Toyota dealership before returning to Austin. His knack for sales got him recruited by Dell Computer Corp. Devoting nights and weekends to studying the real estate market, he quickly became a successful real estate agent, honing his sales skills with courses, including Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People and Tony Robbins' Unleash the Power Within.
Ryan relished going to movies, local concerts, and sporting events and topping them off at Rudy's BBQ or Mighty Fine Burgers. He was a distinguished member of a local charitable organization, the "Cannibals"-legendary for throwing great parties that raised substantial amounts for good causes.
A quick wit
He rejected criticism, condemnation or complaining of any sort. He treated every moment as a gift, every person he met as a cherished friend for life. He was always positive, cheerful and possessed a quick wit that often astounded those around him.
Everyone he met was greeted with a bigger-than-life smile and, "Hi, I'm Ryan and it's a real pleasure to know you." It came right from his heart, and one knew instantly that he was a God given gift to the planet, a treasure more valuable than diamonds. His capacity for loving everyone was infinite.
Ryan had a favorite catch phrase anytime he observed anyone in a funk. "Relax about it." He would say it with a big grin that would crack everyone up.
Nicholas Reitmeyer, Ryan's nephew, recalls spending Saturday mornings at Ryan's home when Nick was young. "We'd lay in bed and watch cartoons, and he always gave me my favorite cereal, one my dad wouldn't let me eat. It was a really fun time."
Josh Wiseman, Ryan's friend for over 30 years, recalls his sense of adventure and curiosity.
"I wasn't a confident kid growing up socially, but Ryan showed me something to aspire to with his outgoing personality," Josh said. "He had a maturity about him that I learned from. He was fearless, passionate and kind."
Ernie and Linda Veranes quickly bonded with the Reitmeyers about 41 years ago when they lived across the street from one another in Harker Heights, TX. "We met an extraordinary family with two young children," Ernie said. The two families blended as one.
Linda Veranes loved Ryan and Sean as if they were her own sons. One of her favorite memories is when Ryan was two years old. Hearing a child's laugh from the kitchen, she and Ryan's mom, Debbie, rushed in to discover that Ryan had climbed up onto the counter and opened a bag of flour. He was scooping it out and flinging it into the air, saying, "It's snowing, it's snowing".
For Linda and Debbie, it's one of their most precious memories.
Ryan's grandmother, Darlene Reitmeyer, said her grandson was especially close to his late grandfather, Doug's dad, Wayne. Just recently, Ryan asked Darlene, "Grandma, do you remember the story about the leaky boat that Grandpa and I rented to go fishing?"
That he recalled, after his brain injury, that long-ago fishing event-when the boat started to sink and they had to furiously bail out water as they rowed back to shore-warmed her heart.
Loving, joyful and mischievous
Ryan's aunt, Rhonda Clark, said "My nephew Ryan was like unwrapping a gift from God every day. He was happy, smiling, loving, joyful and mischievous-all in one!"
A few weeks into working with Ryan, caretaker Fabiana Fericelli, asked Doug, "Is Ryan always this much fun and so happy?"
"Yes," Doug said. "100% of the time."
Fabiana remembers a day feeling depressed as she went to see Ryan. "That night we watched Saturday Night Fever and danced to all the disco songs. He made my day brighter!" she said.
"When we watched Bohemian Rhapsody at the theater, we sang all the Queen hits out loud," Fabiana said. "Everyone was looking at us, but we were having so much fun that we didn't care. I was always amazed me that sometimes Ryan would not remember what he did the day before, but he knew every single word of the songs he liked."
One of his teachers, Donna Martin, who specializes in the Alexander Technique, a unique method of improving posture and performance, was equally impressed with her student's attitude.
"Ryan was always a delight to work with," Donna said. "He was eager to learn, very open to new ideas, and had a wonderful sense of humor! I never saw him in a bad mood." The Reitmeyers credit Donna's posture training with substantially reducing Ryan's seizures.
Ernie Veranes marveled at how Ryan lived life to the fullest. "Ryan believed in living. Even after that horrible accident and the months of recuperation, he still had the zest for life."
The family will forever treasure the extra 14 years Ryan was able to share with them and those that embraced him and his heroic efforts to recover.
Ryan is survived by his parents, Doug and Debbie Reitmeyer, and his aunt, Rhonda Clark, all of Leander, TX; brother Sean, and his grandmothers, Darlene Reitmeyer and JoAnn Derksen, of Cedar Park.
Ryan's dad envisions a new entity that will provide a client-based program for TBI sufferers that everyone will have access to at minimal cost. More about the challenges Ryan overcame are at www.BringingBackRyan.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates reserving donations until a special fund can be set up to help others that have suffered a traumatic brain injury and their families.
For more information or questions about Ryan's story, please contact Ryan's father, Doug Reitmeyer, Phone/text 512-750-2677, or Email DouglasReitmeyer@gmail.com.
NOTE: In honor of Ryan's donating his healthy organs and tissues, the TOSA flag was raised by his parents and flown for 48 hours at Seton Wilco Hospital. Two people received new kidneys; two with no sight now see again; burn victims have new skin, and his bone marrow was donated to children recovering from cancer.
The family wishes to especially express their sincerest and deepest appreciation to all the friends and caretakers, including Fabiana Fericelli and Scott Larson, Alexander Technique trainer, Donna Martin, Yoga instructor, Cindi Reaka, improv coach, Andy Crouch, linguistics and acting trainer, Maurice Ripke, Dr. Michael Merzenich and the Posit Science Team, Sharon Pollack and the Scientific Learning Team, Ryan's teachers at ACC, the ICU staff at Brackenridge, the rehabilitation team at St. David's and many others.
A celebration of Ryan's life will be held at 1 pm on September 26, 2019 at the Hill Country Bible Church at 12124 RR 620, Austin, TX 78750.
Obituary created by www.theprecis.com
Published on September 16, 2019
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