Paul Ryan (Paul Davis Ryan Jr. Early Life) was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, the youngest of four children of Elizabeth “Betty” Ann (née Hutter), who later became an interior designer, and Paul Davis Ryan, a lawyer. He is a fifth-generation Wisconsinite. His father was of Irish descent and his mother of German and English descent. One of Ryan’s paternal ancestors settled in Wisconsin before the Civil War. His great-grandfather, Patrick William Ryan (1858-1917), founded a land movement company in 1884, which later became P. W. Ryan and Sons and is now known as Ryan Incorporated Central. Ryan’s grandfather, Stanley M. Ryan (1898-1957), was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Ryan attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Janesville, where he played on the seventh-grade basketball team, then attended Joseph A. Craig High School, where he was elected president of his junior class, and thus became king of the graduation. As class president, Ryan was a representative of the student body on the school board. After his second year, Ryan took a job working on the grill at McDonald’s. He was on the football teams of the ski, track and varsity high school and played basketball in a Catholic recreational league. He participated in several academic and social clubs, including the United Nations Model. Ryan and his family often hiked to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain.
When he was 16, Ryan found his 55-year-old father dead in the bed of a heart attack. After the death of his father, Ryan’s grandmother moved with the family. Because she had Alzheimer’s, Ryan helped take care of her while her mother was traveling to college in Madison, Wisconsin. From the time of his father’s death until his 18th birthday, Ryan received benefits from Social Security survivors, which were saved for his college education. His mother remarried, with Bruce Douglas.
Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio, where he became interested in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman. He often visited the office of libertarian professor Richard Hart to discuss the theories of these economists and Ayn Rand. Hart introduced Ryan to the National Review, and with Hart’s recommendation, Ryan began an internship at D.C. from US Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin, where he worked with Kasten’s foreign affairs adviser.
He attended the Washington Semester program at the American University. Ryan worked summers as an Oscar Mayer salesman and once ran the Wienermobile. Ryan was a member of the College Republicans and volunteered for the John Boehner congressional campaign. He was a member of the Delta social fraternity.