Dr. Thomas J. Ryan, a world-renowned cardiologist who developed strong ties to Maine, died Monday in the Gosnell Hospice House in Scarborough. He was 91.

Ryan was a professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine and section chief of cardiology at Boston Medical Center for more than two decades, but he often escaped to Maine and eventually retired here. In Maine, he focused on being a father, grandfather and “master of the Fair Tide,” said his son, Dr. Tom Ryan Jr. of Falmouth, referring to the name of his father’s boat.

Thomas J. Ryan Courtesy of the Ryan family

Ryan said his father started skiing at Sugarloaf in 1959, when he was 31, and continued until he was 80. In 1980, he bought a house at Stage Neck in York and delighted in heading out on the ocean aboard his lobster cruising boat.

“Most Boston people would go to Cape Cod and somehow my dad figured out southern Maine” was a better option, Ryan said. He cruised the state’s coastline and sought out “literally every nook and cranny on the Maine coast.”

The senior Ryan, who was born in New York, graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1950 and Georgetown Medical School in 1954. After two years as a captain in the Army Medical Corps, Ryan received pulmonary training with Georgetown Medical Service in Washington and cardiology training at the Thorndike Laboratory of Boston City Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

He was held prominent roles in the American Heart Association and won some of the organization’s top awards. Ryan was elected president of the association in 1985 and served an unprecedented two consecutive terms. He was a prominent clinical scholar, and a leader in formulating national standards of practice.

“But Maine was his refuge, where he became this great grandfather and father to us,” his son said.

He would take his children and grandchildren on cruises aboard the Fair Tide, always reciting a prayer he had written, asking for calm seas and fair tides, before setting out.

Ryan kept a meticulous log of who was aboard and where the Fair Tide went on each trip, his son said, and grandchildren were tasked with writing down who misbehaved or got seasick on the trip. Friends who came to visit were offered a choice of four cruises, his son said, ranging from a quick trip to Nubble Light to a longer cruise for whale watching at Jeffrey’s Ledge.

“He loved being out on the boat and loved all the little harbors here,” the younger Ryan said.

The elder Ryan enjoyed looking out at the mouth of the York River and established warm ties with the lobstermen in the harbor, his son said.

He may have been a well-known doctor who in 1991 became a Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University at the age of 63, but in York, “he was just a regular guy in the harbor,” the younger Ryan said.

“He always had great pride in coming into the harbor with everything ship-shape,” his son said.

His grandchildren called him “hi-ho” because that was his greeting to them, the younger Ryan said.

“They simply adored the man,” he said. Maine “was where he came to be with his family and escape and where he created so many memories and joys.”

After his father died, Ryan said, the funeral home operator knew to take his body on a route that would go by the coast that he loved.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Cooney Ryan of Arlington, Massachusetts, and York Harbor, a sister, six children, 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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