The person I knew as Ryan Hendricks was a friend of mine. I can actually recall the first time we met. It was a summer morning in 2007 and he and I were in a room of about 50 other people who were about to begin the Masters of Public Administration Program (MPA) at BYU. Eventually, Ryan and I settled down at a table to enjoy breakfast with the other three members of our “team”, the group of people with whom we would complete much of our work during the program.
As we introduced ourselves for the first time, I learned a few things about Ryan that stick out in my memory. He was from Antioch, California and had just completed a degree from BYU-Idaho in Economics. He had a very warm smile and had an agreeable personality and always had a knack for interesting conversation, even that morning.
Over the next two years I had many good experiences with Ryan, both on an academic and on a personal level. As I contemplate his passing, I’d like to describe a few memories that I have:
-Ryan had very broad cultural tastes. Every group in the MPA program was asked to conduct a group activity and to create a group name within the first few days of meeting each other. Our group decided to wash each others’ cars and we took in a McDonald’s breakfast after we were done. While at McDonald’s, we were discussing our tastes in music, and Ryan mentioned that he was into “J-Pop” music lately. I quizzingly glanced at another group member, wondering what a J-Pop even was. To me, it sounded like some kind of frozen treat you’d get from a shady ice cream truck. Ryan informed me that it was Japanese Pop music, and we all decided that J-Pop was what our group would be known be going forward.
-Ryan was very talented and knowledgeable in the culinary arts. Many mornings, he reported to us the results of some new experiment that he had undertaken in the kitchen the previous evening. He once had the rest of J-Pop over to his house for dinner right before we all left for Christmas break. I remember it being a truly joyous occasion, spent with people that had become my lifelong friends.
-J-Pop loved sampling foods of the world together, and Ryan was an enthusiastic participant. Some of my fondest memories of the MPA Program were when the five of us jammed into a booth together to try some new place that we had heard of.
-Ryan was very intelligent. He had knowledge about a wide range of topics and he taught me plenty, in his amiable manner. We had fun debates over anything and everything.
-After we graduated, some members of J-Pop remained in Provo. One day, those of us still in the area piled into my car and took a trip to the Kennecott Mine, including Ryan. The picture below documents the last time I ever saw Ryan. We all had a good time together and he and I went our separate ways, never to meet again face to face on this earth.
We kept up with each others' accomplishments and news, both good and bad, over the years. He seemed to be content in San Antonio and he also seemed to have found a life that he was comfortable in. I was thrilled to see that he had gotten married recently and hoped that he was living a full and happy life. Clearly, he grappled with some weighty matters during his life, and I think many of us wish we knew, if only to let him know how much we cared about him and to offer our support.