Comedy roast marks East Portland ad man’s life transition

Some want to say that noted advertising wiz Frank Ryan is retiring – but find out why that’s simply not so! See how dozens of his business and personal friends gave Ryan a rollicking sendoff to his next endeavor …

Frank Ryan Roast” roaster Richard and his wife Gale Kiely of Home Run Graphics dine before the program, with Farmer’s Insurance agent Pam Olson.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The lobby and banquet room of the Courtyard by Marriott Portland Airport started filling before noon on March 12, as friends and business associates of Frank Ryan, formerly with Senior & Boomer News, arrived to give him a sendoff into his new career.

To say Ryan is retiring is inaccurate; he’s as busy as ever providing marketing, advertising, and sales consulting for businesses – and operating at least one online entertainment site, “Frank’s Senior News”.

Although the organization had declined officially to sanction the event, dozens of his friends from the East Portland Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the “Roast of Frank Ryan”.

For those unaware of this style of program, a “roast” is an event at which an individual is regaled by a series of speakers giving comedic insults, praise, and outlandish true and untrue stories, along with heartwarming tributes.

Roastmaster Gary Russell, with GoSmallBiz and Pre-Paid Legal Services, introduces the roasters on the dais, as the program gets underway.

Knowing Ryan as they did, the organizers and roasters knew he’d take the jokes in good humor – and not as serious criticism, or insults – because of his good nature.

The organizer and Roastmaster for the event, Gary Russell, welcomed guests to the event, and invited all to partake in the buffet-style lunch of green salad, lasagna, fresh fruit, and cookies, before the roast commenced.

Letting those present – not familiar with a “roast” – know that Frank Ryan really is held in high honor and esteem, Gary Russell presents the “Man of the Hour” with a plaque, inscribed in part, “In recognition of your community pried and commitment …”

We won’t attempt to recreate the program – even though it ran close to an hour, the time flew by quickly. Instead, we’ll bring you some of the highlights to convey the flavor of the event.

Roaster Richard Kiely starts in on a “fellow Irishman”.

The first roaster was Richard Kiely, a “reformed” professional musician and long-time lithographer – and today the proprietor of Home Run Graphics.

“Before we commenced with the complete destruction of this man’s character, first you need to know that Frank Ryan is our friend,” said Kiely, setting the tone for the lambasting to follow. “We’ve known him for a number of years, and have great respect for him. He has a great work ethic.

“I was going to make a joke saying that Frank sailed over on the Mayflower, but as you know, we Irish weren’t really welcomed here with open arms.  Thanks a lot, Frank!”

Reflecting on Frank’s age, Kiely said wryly that he himself is no youngster either. “We share something in common other than the Geritol and PolyGrip – we’ve both been in the newspaper and printing business for a long time. ‘How long?’ you ask? I was involved with the printing of the first Bible. But, Frank sold ads in the back of the book to the Gideon’s.”

Ken Bear Cole, an expert fishing guide as well as a business consultant, tells why roastee Ryan feels comfortable in the wilds of nature.

Ken Bear Cole, of Second Look Business Consulting, was up next.

“Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Frank learned early-on to hunt and fish,” alleged Cole, also known to many as a fishing guide. “This came in very handy, because his parents would often taken camping, and leave in the middle of the night without him.

“Frank has always had a soft spot in his heart for seniors. And when we asked him why, he said, ‘My senior year in high school where two of my very years!

“I’ll close with this: One of the great famous sayings we’ve all heard from Frank Ryan is, ‘Ask not what this advertising can do for you, hey, I just won a trip to Hawaii!’

Kevin “Not your ordinary bean-counter” Minkoff, CPA slings the one-liners fast and furiously.

Everyone who came to the Frank Ryan Roast expected Kevin Minkoff C.P.A. to dole out the comedic shtick hot and heavy – and they weren’t disappointed.

“The nice thing about becoming senile, Frank, is that you get to hide your own Easter eggs!

“In his younger days, Frank wanted to be a pharmacist. But that dream was shattered when he couldn’t figure out how to get the prescription bottles into the typewriter!

“Frank, you’re very, very special to us. And, I mean that in the most sincere Olympic sense.

“In closing, I’d like to leave you with one thought, but I’m not sure you have any place to put it! But really, Frank, if you ever need a friend, I’d be more than happy to find you one!”

President of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, Richard Sorem, with Aidapak Services LLC, talks about Ryan’s prowess on the golf links.

“I’m going to be a little bit gentler with Frank,” began Richard Sorem, from Aidapak Services LLC. “Frank was one of the first guys I met when I came to the East Portland Chamber of Commerce years ago. Frank came up, in his vivacious and a gregarious way, and introduced himself. I couldn’t help but noticing his wild, Christmas tie, and blinking reindeer lapel.

“As I got know Frank better, I found that one thing we had in common was golf.  But, about six months later at the Chamber golf tournament, I saw Frank swing a golf club – and thought to myself, ‘He can’t be very good’. And sure enough, at golf, he isn’t very good! But, like everything he does, he does it with enthusiasm.

“I love you Frank, but maybe you should give up the game of golf.  I value my relationship with you, Frank. The biggest thing I’ve learned from you is to treat people with respect and honesty.”

Roastmaster Gary Russell lays out both praise – and barbs – for the guest of honor.

Wrapping up the program, roastmaster Gary Russell, of GoSmallBiz, stepped up to the podium.

“I haven’t known Frank long enough to talk about skeletons in his closet.

“When I joined the Chamber, Frank interviewed me for their newsletter. During that time, he told about his colorful and interesting history. As I recall, he talked more about himself than me!

“Age has its advantages” – Russell set up the old gag. as he drew near to Ryan, cupped his hand to his mouth and shouted – “Hey Frank, I said ‘Age has its advantages!’

“They have a term for people who’ve accomplished Frank’s particular set of accomplishments. They call them survivors!

“I’m not saying that he’s old, but we all know that some people frame the first dollar they’ve ever made. Frank was able to frame the first dollar – ever made!”

Finally, Russell suggested all the guests hold up a hand, and, with their fingers, form the shape of a pistol – setting the group up for Ryan’s signature tag line that he’d given at so many Chamber functions.

“We all know that Frank calls this his ‘profit pistol’, because he’d tell people he’d help them get more get more ‘bang, bang, bang from the advertising dollar’. Today this is for you! Our job here today, Frank, is to help you get more ‘bang, bang, bang’ from your retirement.”

One of the Chamber’s founders, Dan LaGrande from LaGrande Public Relations, and Judy Leach, the marketing manager at Adventist Medical Center, also got up and gave testimonials. They spoke of Frank’s willingness to help people from all walks of life become more successful.

“Man of the Hour” Frank Ryan speaks out.

When he finally got his turn at the podium, and going against the traditional format of a roast, Ryan refrained from taking potshots at his roasters. Instead, he talked about those qualities he strives to emulate: Honesty, dedication, helpfulness, and camaraderie.

Ryan said his spiritual connection gives him strength; his relationship with Jesus Christ gives him comfort.

He also made it clear that, while he did leave his formal employment, he was in no way retiring. You can see what he’s up to now, by visiting his website: CLICK HERE.

As is the practice at East Portland Chamber of Commerce functions, the meeting concluded with all guests giving their introductions.

So, do we miss Frank Ryan? No! We had coffee with him just last week! We do wish him continued success with his new ventures.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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