“Pru was a fantastic lady and a great lawyer,” Brewster said.
Dan Little has served on the OU Board of Regents and is now chairman of the board of trustees for the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.
The couple had three daughters, Janna, Dana and Molly.
Janna went to grade school in Madill and then to boarding school in Austin, Texas, before attending Wellesley.
Starting a family
Brewster assigned Janna to focus on health care when she worked for him on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s. “She studied it and just became extremely knowledgeable,” he said.
She also served as a liaison to a health care advisory group Brewster had formed in Oklahoma. And she was going to law school in that period. Brewster described her as “a truly down-to-earth person” who never flaunted her family's wealth. She drove an older car, he said, and dressed nicely but not extravagantly.
She met Paul Ryan when she was working as a lobbyist, sometimes on a team with Brewster's former chief of staff, Pat Raffaniello. Among their clients were United Parcel Service and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“Professionally, Janna was always prepared to provide accurate and timely information to policymakers,” Raffaniello said. “On a personal level, it was a pleasure to work with such a bright and articulate colleague.”
Janna married Paul Ryan in Oklahoma City in 2000, and Janna gave up her successful career to move to Wisconsin.
“She was ready to start a family, and I think she saw Janesville as a wonderful place to raise a family,” said Jackson, Janna's sister, also an attorney and Wellesley graduate. “She wasn't someone who sat around and worried about what she was giving up.”
The Ryans have three children: Liza, 10, Charlie, 9, and Sam, 7.
“Being a congressional spouse — that's not an official job, but there are duties that come with that,” Jackson said. “She just kind of shifted her focus.”
Not a public person
Since her husband was added to the Republican ticket, Janna Little Ryan has appeared at some campaign events, and she spoke briefly at a breakfast the week of the Republican convention in Tampa.
“It was short and sweet. She's not a public speaker. She's not a public person,” Jackson said.
Jackson said she couldn't predict what her sister's role in the campaign would be but that her support would be “strong and unwavering.”
Chapman said Janna is smart enough to realize there are people paid during campaigns to “tear down other people's lives” and that she is strong enough to stand up to it and take care of the couple's kids.
If Romney and Ryan are elected, he said, “she will be a tremendous asset to the team, and I'm sure she'll find a few issues to be involved in and do a great job.
“A lot more people than just Marshall County can be proud of her.”