Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate, has strong Oklahoma ties

Ryan married into an Oklahoma family whose roots precede statehood, and he tries to catch catfish with his bare hands on some of his visits to the southern part of the state
by Chris Casteel Modified: August 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm •  Published: August 11, 2012

Janna Little Ryan's parents have held numerous positions in the state. Prudence Little, who graduated first in her class at the OU College of Law in 1968, was one of the first members of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission and served as chairman of the OU Foundation; she died in 2010. Dan Little has served on OU's board of regents and is chairman of the board of trustees for the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

Like her mother, Janna Little Ryan got her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She got her law degree at George Washington University in Washington. It could not be determined on Saturday whether she attended public schools in Oklahoma.

She was working as a tax attorney in Washington when she met Ryan, who was serving his first term in Congress. The couple have three children: Liza, 10, and sons Charles, 8, and Sam, 7.

Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the time of their engagement in 2000 that they went deer hunting together and that she spotted the eight-point buck he shot on opening day of deer season. Ryan was 30 and Little 31 when they announced their engagement that April.

Dr. Ronald H. White, who served with Dan Little on the OU Board of Regents and praised the family's long civic involvement, said he attended the couple's wedding and that it was held at St. Joseph Old Cathedral, which was heavily damaged in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. White said the reception was at the Petroleum Club.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who now represents Madill, said Saturday that he had gone on a congressional trip with the Ryans and later wrote Dan Little to tell him that it was like traveling with a president and his wife.

“They're devoted to one another,” Cole said Saturday.

Cole said Ryan and Dan Boren, also an avid hunter, “are responsible for killing half the game in Oklahoma.”


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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