Memphis legal professional John Ryder, a notable public servant, dies at 72

John Ryder, an influential Memphis legal professional and a longtime figure in Tennessee and national politics, has died. He was 72.

Ryder, the previous general counsel for the Republican National Committee, helped form redistricting attempts throughout the condition and the U.S. He assisted build the present framework of Shelby County governing administration by way of his perform on the county’s charter commission. 

In modern years, he chaired the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board and helped quell President Donald Trump’s ire at CEO Jeff Lyash in late 2020. Ryder remained an advocate for the federal agency and its public energy design. He thought his hometown of Memphis really should remain with the energy provider alternatively of looking for electricity somewhere else. 

Ryder practiced election and bankruptcy law at Memphis business Harris Shelton and was commonly regarded as an qualified on election challenges.

That authorized expertise stretched from the halls of electrical power throughout the condition to his do the job as the longtime attorney for the Memphis and Shelby County Movie Commission in which he carried out like “any liberal would do for us,” Linn Sitler, the head of the film fee, said. 

Ryder, pals explained, possessed a eager strategic mind and a perception of honest play that in no way wavered throughout his lifestyle. He also experienced the uncommon potential to hold political variances civil, a trait now endangered in today’s rancorous era.

Several in Tennessee politics remembered Ryder as a general public servant who performed a part in turning the Republican Party from a minority into the dominant political power in the condition. 

“With deft lawful skills and an effortless fashion, John Ryder aided make the Tennessee Republican Celebration more than approximately a 50 percent century,” former Sen. Lamar Alexander said. 

Scott Golden, the chairman of the condition Republican Social gathering, mentioned in a statement, “Mr. Ryder has been a confidant of nearly each individual elected Republican in Tennessee for the very last fifty percent century through his tireless and selfless giving, assist, and skills.” 

Redistricting endeavours and public provider part of legacy

Alexander, in an job interview Monday, explained Ryder as the backstop that stored the Republican Get together from getting redistricted into irrelevance. 

“He was a expert attorney, a experienced election attorney. He honed his competencies, defending Republicans in opposition to Democrat legislatures who are attempting to take gain of Republicans in redistricting and reapportionment,” Alexander claimed. “And when the worm turned, and the Republicans were in cost, he utilized the abilities he learned to support the Republicans get benefit of the Democrats. But to do it, as he mentioned, in a truthful, lawful way.” 

Alexander explained Ryder as a Republican’s Republican, one particular who didn’t shout. 

“He experienced fantastic manners, and excellent style so as society grew increasingly uncivil and coarse, John continued to have his enjoyable disposition. He did not elevate his voice. He confirmed respect for his opponents, and he enjoyed fine wine and the opera,” Alexander stated. 

Someone who often disagreed with him on politics, Susan Adler Thorp, a former political columnist for The Commercial Charm and a political consultant, provided a comparable description of an unwavering advocate for his local community who understood civility. 

“John and I, we had been not political compatriots, but we were being good friends. And you you should not usually have to concur with another person in politics to respect them. And I grew to regard John, not automatically for his politics, but for the way that he dealt with his everyday living and the persons close to him, and I imagine that this local community, our local community most likely owes a credit card debt to John,” Thorp mentioned. 

Sitler, head of the Memphis and Shelby County Film Commission, spoke of Ryder’s understated influence in preserving Memphis as a movie place. He was the architect of the commission’s present nonprofit standing.

Sitler recalled how Ryder managed the film commission’s different and entertaining lawful issues all over the yrs, from rerouting a presidential motorcade with his influence or protecting the Initial Modification rights of filmmakers. 

“He was essential in carving out our location, how much the commission could actually do because of, of precedents that he proven,” Sitler stated. “He actually was one particular of the finest gentlemen we will ever develop.” 

Ryder was a solution of Memphis. He graduated from White Station in 1967 and was between 8 excellent seniors honored in the school’s yearbook.

The e-book reveals a Ryder that bore a marked resemblance to the man he was afterwards in lifestyle — brown hair and sharp inform eyes. It describes him as a Countrywide Benefit Semi-Finalist and intensely included in discussion, speech and drama. 

“He was the smartest male in the class when it came to things like governing administration and policy. I think it was just aspect of who he is section of the soul,” Thorp, who graduated with him, mentioned. 

Ryder remained steady in the course of lifestyle, Thorp and Alexander said. The exact same feeling of fair play ruled him through. 

“If he could obtain an advantage for Republicans inside the rule of legislation, he would consider it but he wouldn’t exceed it,” Alexander claimed. 

Samuel Hardiman handles Memphis metropolis governing administration and politics for The Commercial Attraction. He can be attained by e mail at or followed on Twitter at @samhardiman. 

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