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A veteran came out as gay in his obituary. Now, his family is praising his final 'salute'

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The niece of Edward Thomas Ryan, the decorated military veteran who came out as gay in his obituary, is proud her uncle "got to open doors for other people."

The niece of the decorated military veteran who came out as gay in his obituary wants her beloved "Uncle Ed" to know the impact of his postmortem confession.

Edward Thomas Ryan, who was also a retirfed firefighter and entrepreneur, came out in his obituary published June 8 in the Albany Times Union, in which he also revealed his 25-year secret relationship to another man, whom he said he would be buried next to.

“I was in a loving and caring relationship with Paul Cavagnaro of North Greenbush. He was the love of my life. We had 25 great years together. Paul died in 1994 from a medical Procedure gone wrong," Ryan wrote. "I’ll be buried next to Paul. I’m sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay. I was afraid of being ostracized: by Family, Friends, and Co-Workers. Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it. Now that my secret is known, I’ll forever Rest in Peace.”

One of Ryan's nieces, Linda Sargent, recently told Good Morning America that her uncle confided the content of his obituary to her before his passing, which she encouraged him to publish.

"I said, 'Uncle Ed, if that's what you want to tell the world, tell the world that you're gay. Don't be ashamed of it,'" Sargent said. "He was a great man, and I'm just so sorry that he had to hide who he was."

Ryan passed away on June 1 at the age of 85, and is survived by his five siblings and 14 nieces and nephews. Sargent said that while his identity "was never spoken about" in the family, she "think[s] his siblings knew." Sargent also revealed she never met Cavagnaro, but that her uncle spoke of his partner and his desire to reunite with him in his final days.

"He wanted to go home. He wanted to be with him, that I do know," she said. "He never had another partner after that. He was the love of his life."

As her family mourns, Sargent shared that one silver lining has been seeing the effect of her uncle's confession around the world. She said that she wishes she could show Ryan the impact his words had, adding, "Hopefully he's at peace."

"I talk to him, like, 'Uncle Ed, you don't even know what's going on down here. You don't know what your obituary did to people around the world. People are sending messages from all over,'" she said. "In a way, he got his salute and got to open doors for other people."

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a reporter at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a reporter at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.