Patricia Ryan, the first female editor at Time Inc., died Friday in her home. She was 75 years old, and is said to have died of lung cancer.
Ryan was born in Unionville, Pennsylvania in 1938 and would grow up having a love and knowledge of horses instilled upon her by her father James, a horse trainer. This knowledge would later prove to be quite valuable during her stint as a secretary at Sports Illustrated.
Ryan began working at Sports Illustrated in the 1960’s, during which she found the time to earn a bachelor’s degree from Columbia in history.Later, she was named editor of Life magazine, and wrote articles that spanned the public interest from airplane crashes to the history of the brassiere and the life of Robert F. Kennedy.
In 1982 Ryan was named managing editor of People magazine, making her the first woman to hold the title. She kept the title for five years, earning a national magazine award of excellence in 1987 – the only honor the magazine would receive to date. Perhaps her most popular contribution to journalism, she is also credited for creating the infamous segment of People Magazine known to its readers as “Sexiest Man Alive.”
James Seymore, a colleague and friend said that “Pat was good at story ideas,. and she was a writer’s editor. Before her, like Time, People had been an editor’s magazine, but she made the articles longer, and generally under Pat we favored writers more.” She was also well known for her writing itself, described as snappy prose by her peers.
Her career with the magazine mogul was abruptly cut short in 1989 when she was fired with no explanation. It is thought that the editor in chief, Jason McManus, fired her due to conflict between her live-in partner Mr. Cave and himself. Mr. Cave, a former editor of Sports Illustrated and Time both, had been let go by McManus a few months prior.
Ms. Ryan is survived not only by Mr. Cave but also her brother Owen, sister Oonah, two stepchildren and a step granddaughter.
Image via People