POWERS - When 8 o'clock rolls around this evening, don't even think of trying to strike up a conversation with Helen Ryan. The 88-year-old resident of Pinecrest Medical Care Facility will likely be nestled in her favorite chair in front of her television watching the ESPN broadcast of her beloved Green Bay Packers as they open their 2012-13 season with a pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers.
But even though you might not be permitted to utter a single word in her direction once the huge Packer clock on the wall of her room ticks off the final seconds before the kick-off, you may, nevertheless, enjoy the sight of Helen all decked out in her favorite Packer Jersey, wearing her green-and-gold beads, with her knees blanketed with a Packer lap-robe as she sits surrounded by the dozens of other Packer memorabilia she has collected over the years. It may be a toss-up as to whether she chooses to wear her Cheesehead wedge on her head or her Packer stocking cap.
According to Nina Thiry, activities worker at Pinecrest, this was the typical view of Helen during the entire football season last year when the Packers were on the field.
Dorothy McKnight | Daily Press
Eighty-eight-year-old Helen Ryan is all decked out as she prepares for the opening of the Green Bay Packer pre-season tonight. She even has a container of “Titletown!” green and gold M&Ms. Helen, who is a resident of Pinecrest Medical Care Facility, has been a fan of the Packers for as long as she can remember.
Born in Harris on Jan. 20, 1924, Helen later made her home in the Ford River area with her husband, Edward, and their four children, She said she has been a Packer fan for as long as she can remember.
"I like everything about them," she stated emphatically. "My husband always liked football and my children are all Packer fans. And my grandchildren are, too."
Her joy knew no bounds when her team won the Super Bowl, led by quarterback Brett Favre, in 1996, and again - this time led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers - in 2010.
That same year, Helen was thrilled when she received a birthday card from her favorite team along with a package containing a picture of the team and a Packer towel.
When the Packers failed to advance in the play-offs last season, Helen lamented that she felt "awful," adding, "I was really hoping they would get to the Super Bowl again. I think they were really good and I was excited for them to make it."
So who is Helen's favorite player?
Although she has a high regard for Brett Favre, Helen didn't bat an eye when she gave the nod to Clay Matthew, saying, "He's really good and I like to watch him play."
When Helen was hospitalized at OSF St. Francis Hospital a few weeks ago, one of the Pinecrest staff was commissioned to bring Helen her Packer beads for comfort.
If Helen has a bucket list, it would be to attend a Packer game in person.
"It's always been a dream of mine," she said. "Just to be able to go to one game would be wonderful."