On Wednesday, Don Ryce, father, lawyer and co-founder of the Jimmy Ryce Center was laid to rest. Below is the eulogy presented at the funeral, Don’s biography and our heartfelt thanks to the many people who made the day memorable.
Eulogy for Don Ryce Delivered by Terri Lynn
On behalf of Don’s son, Ted, and the Jimmy Ryce Center we want to thank you for being here.
A special thank you to all of the members of law enforcement who made it a point to be with us today.
Don would have been overjoyed. He loved you and he loved all of the bloodhounds.
He and Claudine always said each time a bloodhound found a missing child it was as if Jimmy was giving them a hug.
His last words to us were, “I want you to keep the Jimmy Ryce Center going.”
We promised him that we’d be honored.
Today we have come to say goodbye to our friend.
The ground we’re standing on right now is soaked in tears.
We stood here in December of 1995 and cried buckets of tears for Jimmy.
We returned to this very spot in 2009 when we lost Claudine, who as we all know, died of a broken heart.
But they are at peace now. We all know that.
If you believe in heaven you know that Claudine, Jimmy, and Martha have not stopped hugging Don. That vision gives me hope and helps ease my pain.
And in case you didn’t know…the way they are buried here is how they use to all cuddle in bed to read a goodnight story. Jimmy in the middle and Don and Claudine on each side.
Don Ryce dedicated his heart and soul to make sure that the legacy he and Claudine started to honor Jimmy would live on.
Despite all the agony, he endured in his life, Don Ryce never lost his sense of humor, never stopped caring for his family, and always had a smile on his face.
He was strong. He was loving. He had a heart filled with compassion. He was a true southern gentleman. He loved life and……
He always believed in tomorrow!
Don Ryce Bio
Don Ryce was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 15, 1943. His mother, Martha Ryce was a fashion model, and his father Donald Theodore, Sr. was a businessman.
Don always wanted to be a lawyer and received his law degree from the University of Florida.
He married Reba Mae Morgan (from Lexington, Kentucky) and they had two children, Ted and Martha. They later divorced in 1981. Sadly, Reba died in a car accident in 1991.
In 1983, Don married Claudine Walker and together with Don raised his two children in Miami.
Don worked as a labor relations attorney and had a successful law practice with many Fortune 500 clients. Life was good. The family thrived and they traveled the world together.
Tragedy struck the family on September 11, 1995, when Don’s youngest son, Jimmy, was abducted and murdered. This captured the attention of people around the world.
From that moment on, the family devoted their efforts to helping other families of missing children and founded the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction. One of the main goals of the center was to provide bloodhounds, free of charge, to law enforcement agencies. To date, the Jimmy Ryce Center has donated over 600 bloodhounds.
Don fought tirelessly to change legislation to protect children from predators and attended two bill-signing ceremonies at the White House. One was with President George W. Bush and the other with President Bill Clinton.
Don’s wife, Claudine, died of a heart attack in 2009.
Sadly, in 2013, Martha took her life, due in part to the murder of her younger brother.
Despite all of the pain he endured in his life, Don Ryce never lost his sense of humor, never stopped caring for his family, and always had a smile on his face.
Don loved his children, loved to travel, loved history(particularly World War II) wine, and fine dining.
To keep his legacy going please consider donating to JimmyRyce.org/donate
The Jimmy Ryce Center wishes to thank the following:
The Van Orsdel Funeral Chapel, and Woodlawn Park Cemetary South, for their kindness and exceptional generosity.
The Miami Dade Police Department for the magnificent police escort that you provided.
To WSVN, CBS4, WPLG, Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel and the Associated Press for your beautiful tributes to Don Ryce.
Thank you to BSO K-9 Officer Kelly Covet, Det. Pat Diaz (ret.), Stephanie White, Kevin Bolling, and the many K-9 officers, with their bloodhounds, from across the state of Florida who came to honor Don and pay their respects.