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Papali’I John Ryan was born and educated in Apia, Samoa. Although he was early employed as a stevedore, rugby football occupied his time. Before long, mission superintendent, Raimond Reye arranged Bible studies for Ryan and Ellen Currie, the young lady whom he married in 1948. Employed by the Union Steamship Company in 1943, Ryan served there as its chief stevedore until 1980. Over the years, Ryan came to own and operate the largest and best equipped fleet of heavy equipment in Samoa, and for many years also assisted the local mission with transportation needs without cost.