Cover photo for Martha A. Ryan's Obituary
Martha A. Ryan Profile Photo
1945 Martha 2023

Martha A. Ryan

May 20, 1945 — August 14, 2023

Mason City

Martha A. Ryan, MD, of Mason City, died Monday, August 14, 2023, at MercyOne Medical Center – North Iowa in Mason City.  

Martha Anne (Dalbey) Ryan was born in Philadelphia to Robert T and Carol (Hatch) Dalbey. She spent her formative years in Des Moines and graduated from Roosevelt High School with honors. She was awarded a National Merit Scholarship to attend Michigan State University and graduated in three years with a chemistry major in the pre-medical program.

Her medical career was placed on hold when she met and married John (Jack) Dale Ryan Jr., an air force fighter pilot. Two years later John (Jack) Dale III was born of that union. In January 1970, her husband was killed in a crash on a training mission after he had completed his required missions during the Vietnam War.

Martha, as a single mother, revived her medical career plans by attending firstly graduate school at Georgetown University and subsequently was admitted to medical school at University of Texas San Antonio. Following graduation, she was accepted to a specialty residency training program in radiation oncology in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following completion in 1981, she began private practice in southern California. In 1989 she moved back to Iowa to help provide care for her aging parents. After looking at practices in Des Moines she was intrigued by the idea of coming to Mason City where a cancer center at Mercy Medical Center North Iowa was in an early conceptual stage.  There she met her future husband, Walter W Bate who was a medical oncologist. Together they helped develop the Mercy Cancer Center which opened in 1992. They were married a few months later.  In the process she inherited and helped raise Walter’s 12-year-old son Stefan, as well as a black lab puppy and two kitties to join her two. Eventually a fifth cat, a parakeet and a turtle were added to the menagerie.

Martha was an incredible human being. A brilliant and compassionate physician who ushered radiation oncology in Mason City into the 21st century. She was loved by her patients, colleagues, and staff. She loved animals and adopted multiple humane society residents and various strays, including Walt. She spent multiple vacations at an elephant rescue facility and while there once did a minor surgical procedure to relieve a painful abscess on a male elephant. Reportedly he was quite appreciative! In her career she treated a few malignancies in animals with radiation. Also, she once helped a veterinarian friend do a root canal on a zoo Bengal tiger. 

Most people lose contact with friends as their lives diverge. Martha maintained close relationships with friends from the many different stages of her life; from grade school through medical school and residency training as well as all the people she’s met since. She lit up their lives with her brilliant smile and great sense of humor. They enriched hers.

The lives of Martha Ryan: scholar, wife, mother, physician, caregiver to her parents, innovator, wife again, mother again, unparalleled grandmother, animal lover, and always friend.

Her last two weeks were a testament to her life. After a major stroke from which she never regained consciousness, she completed a two-week heroic battle that confounded friends, family and medical personnel. As in all her prior life, she did it her way. 

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Jack, & older sister Mary.  Left to relish our memories are Walt, son Jack (Jill), stepson Stefan Walter Bate (Amber), grandchildren John Dale Ryan IV, Abby Lynne Ryan, Allison Ann Bate, Christopher Michael Bate & scores of friends.

Celebration of life is scheduled on October 7th, at Music Man Square in Mason City at 6:30 pm. Ice cream sundaes will be served. Martha would definitely approve! We are hoping to be able to livestream for those unable to attend. Memorials can be sent to the Humane Society of North Iowa.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Martha A. Ryan, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Starts at 6:30 pm (Central time)

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