Ray Ryan

Raymond J. Ryan (January 9, 1904 in Watertown, Wisconsin – October 18, 1977) was a gambler, oilman, promoter, and developer.

In the 1920s he went into the oil business, but was unsuccessful. In the process, he did, however, learn some powerful lessons about making timely investment decisions. He finally succeeded in the oil business in the 1940s due to the booming oilfields of southern Indiana, Illinois, and western Kentucky.

In 1949, Ryan gave an inscribed gold keychain to Las Vegas mobster Davie Berman that read, “DB from Ray Ryan, 1949.”

In the 1950s and ’60s, Ryan was a land developer in Palm Springs, California. Real estate development in Palm Springs did not generate much interest until actor Clark Gable built a home there. Ray joined with 24 other investors to purchase the run-down El Mirador Hotel in Palm Springs. After restoring it to its former elegance, he bought out his partners in 1960. In 1962 Ryan, with partner Ernie Dunlevie, opened the Bermuda Dunes Country Club which later became a host club for the Bob Hope Classic golf tournament and where Clark Gable built a home on the sixth fairway.

Ryan was the target of a public IRS audit in the 1970s over some disallowed deductions stemming from his involvement in and development of the Mount Kenya Safari Club, in Nanyuki, Kenya, with actor William Holden.

Murder in Evansville

On October 18, 1977, Ray Ryan went to a health club, as he often did. When he finished his workout, he walked outside to his new Lincoln Mark V coupe. Someone had, however, connected a bomb to the ignition of the car. As soon as Ryan turned the key, the car exploded violently. The impact of explosion killed Ryan almost instantly. It took two days to locate and collect all of the pieces of the car – one piece was located 377 feet from the scene of the explosion. The murder is unsolved.

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