Ryan has experienced a fair share of loss in his life. In 1986, when he was just 16 years old, his father, Paul Ryan Sr., died of a heart attack at age 55, reported Raw Story. The loss devastated entire family, including Paul Jr’s mom, Elizabeth Ryan, and his three siblings: Tobin, Stan, and Janet Ryan.
Sadly, Ryan Sr. struggled with alcoholism before his passing, and the younger Ryan opened up about his father’s battle in a candid interview with Talking Points Memo in 2014. “While he certainly tried to fight it, my dad’s addiction eventually won out,” he said. “Over time, it made him more distant, irritable and stressed. Before I lost him to a heart attack, whiskey had washed away some of the best parts of the man I knew … I grew up real fast.”
Ryan Jr.’s dad isn’t the only person in his family to die from a heart attack — both his grandfather and great-father died in their fifties from heart disease.
The silver lining in this tragic family history is that it has given the political leader a helpful perspective on life’s struggles. “It was a big part of a challenge we experienced, like lots of families,” Ryan said (via The Huffington Post). “And there’s a good story at the end of this, which is, you can overcome these things, you can overcome these scars that occur.”