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Otis Ryman is grand marshal of Urbanna Christmas Parade

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Otis Ryman (above) of Remlik has been named grand marshal of the Urbanna Hometown Christmas Parade set for 7 p.m. Friday, December 6. (Photo by Larry Chowning)

by Larry Chowning

Otis Ryman of Remlik has been named grand marshal of the Urbanna Hometown Christmas Parade set for 7 p.m. Friday, December 6.

Ryman is owner and president of Ryman’s Air Conditioning & Heating, one of the largest firms of its kind in the region. “Otis is a strong supporter of our community,” said parade coordinator Lois Jean Brooks of the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department, co-sponsor of the event along with the Town of Urbanna.

“He has been a long-time sponsor of teams in various youth sports in the county and a big help and contributor to our volunteer fire departments,” Brooks said. “Otis and his wife Irma are family people and are both active at Urbanna Baptist Church. It gives us great pleasure to have Otis and Irma leading our annual Urbanna Hometown Christmas Parade.”

Ryman first moved from the Shenandoah Valley to Remlik as a boy in 1949 when his father landed a job at the old Remlik Hall turkey farm. The family went back to the valley shortly thereafter to look after an ill and aging relative but moved back to Remlik in 1955.

Ryman attended Urbanna Grade School and Middlesex High School. He got his first job at Hampstead Dairy Farm and later went on to become the hatchery foreman at the turkey farm.

When Ryman was 16 years old he asked the late Harry Bray of Hampstead Farm about a job. “I told Mr. Bray I needed a job bad and he asked me what I could do. I said I can do anything, rake your yard . . . whatever needs to be done. He asked how much an hour it would be and I said 25 cents an hour. He said, ‘Will you take 20 cents an hour?’ I took the job,” said Ryman.

In the 1960s Ryman began to take a correspondence course in heating and air-conditioning installation and repair from the National Technical Institute of Los Angeles, California. He passed with flying colors and Ryman’s Air Conditioning & Heating was on its way.

A business that started with Ryman, his father and brother working from the trunk of a car has grown to 12 employees, a fleet of seven trucks and three mobile duct trailers. Ryman’s AC & Heating now serves over 1,700 customers in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck. In 2003, Ryman’s became the first “authorized” Carrier Factory Dealer in the United States.

Brooks noted Ryman gives employees time off to meet obligations of being volunteer firefighters or emergency workers for the Upper Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department and Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department. “Otis is extremely generous and provides a great deal of generosity through his business,” she said.

A few years ago, Ryman’s donated all the ducts and labor to install new heating and air in the Water View Firehouse and was able to get Carrier to donate the units. Ryman’s also donated equipment to the new addition for the Urbanna Firehouse.
Ryman is involved in many local civic organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Jacob’s Ladder, and the Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen Scholarship Competition.

For over 30 years, Ryman’s AC & Heating has sponsored a basketball team in the Middlesex Youth Basketball League, a team in the Middlesex Little League, and contributed to Middlesex Colts football. The firm also helps sponsor the St. Clare Walker Middle School soccer team that won the Independent Schools Athletic Conference (ISAC) championship this year.

Ryman has been a member of Urbanna Baptist Church since 1957 and serves as a deacon and trustee for the church. He and his wife Irma have two married daughters, Tammy and Stephanie. Tammy is married to Tom Shaia, and Stephanie is married to Eric Smith. The Rymans have five grandchildren—Caroline, Jacqueline, Andrea, Emilie and Adam.

Ryman said, “I’m extremely honored to be selected grand marshal and Irma and I are looking forward to riding in the parade and being a part of the Christmas festivities.”

The annual Urbanna Hometown Christmas Parade involves activities and food at the firehouse beginning at 5 p.m., musical guests performing on Virginia Street and at the firehouse, the parade at 7 p.m., and Santa Claus visiting with children at the firehouse following the parade.

posted 11.26.2013

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