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Ryan C. Gilrein

October 24, 1980 ~ October 9, 2019 (age 38)

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Ryan Christopher Gilrein, 38, currently stationed in Los Angeles, CA, in the United States Coast Guard, and formerly of Springfield, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. Ryan was born in Springfield on October 24, 1980, the son of Mary Ellen (Mathews) Gilrein of Springfield and John Gilrein of AZ. Ryan was educated in the Springfield School system and was a parishioner of Holy Cross Church. Ryan proudly served with distinction in the United States Coast Guard and was fiercely proud of its mission and traditions. Ryan served the United States in a myriad of roles including as a first responder on September 11, 2001 in NY Harbor, as a law enforcement officer in the fight against global narcotics trafficking, and, importantly to him, as a search and rescue specialist. Ryan’s guiding principles were evident in the seriousness he spoke about the life-saving mandate of the USCG, and Ryan often mused about wishing he could change the fortunes of those affected by disasters and those who could not be saved. Ryan’s most recent excursion was in fact assisting the recovery efforts in the Bahamas after it was ravaged by Hurricane Dorian. Ryan’s passions reflected his love of the ocean: scuba diving amongst reefs, surfing, swimming. Ryan spoke with love and awe of the sea and sea-faring culture and history in a way only the initiated would ever understand. In the tradition of sailors, Ryan expressed his devotion and reverence for the sea and her fickle, salty moods in the tapestry of tattoos he acquired over his long career. A transplant and vocal convert to California, Ryan was a devotee of CA culture and cuisine and would remind people often of its inherent superiority, whether it was burgers or burritos, or craft beers. Ryan would often brag about how, if he wasn’t on duty, he simply could not wear shoes with laces. If he wasn’t reminding you of the superiority of California, then it was of Hawaii and his love of her culture as well. The demands of Ryan’s vocational calling sometimes created some distances between him and those that he loved most but tempests and squalls and the vastness of oceans would never dim the true devotion Ryan held in his heart for his beloved family.  In addition to his parents Ryan is survived by two sons Damian Gilrein and Cameron Gilrein both of Hampden, his five siblings Kerry Drinkwater and her husband David of Hingham, MA., Erin Nannene and her husband Garrett, Sean Gilrein and his wife Lynn of NY, NY, Daniel Gilrein and his wife Limarie of Sturbridge, MA., and Mary Kate Gilrein of Portland, ME., and he also leaves seven nephews and three nieces and a large extended family, and his dear friends Meg O’ Leary, and A. J. Martin, both of Springfield. Family and friends will gather and remember Ryan on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 from 4-6p.m. at the Byron Keenan Funeral Home and Cremation Tribute Center, 1858 Allen Street in Springfield. A Liturgy of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 11a.m. in Holy Cross Church, 221 Plumtree Road, Springfield, followed by burial and military honors in the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Main Street in Agawam. Memorial contributions may be made in Ryan’s memory to the Fisher House Foundation at, or to the Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund at For additional information please visit

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