Jim Ryder: The Extra Brother I Don’t Need but am Glad to Have


This February marks my 6th year as Executive Director at Spare Key.

Prior to that I had served on the Spare Key Board of Directors.

It was during that time I met Jim Ryder.

Jim Ryder is a mortgage guy.

Through and through.

He’s also a pen and paper guy.

Let me explain what that means.

The vast majority of people who have recently had to buy or sell a home are subjected to all sorts of emails and electronic documents where you get pricing on the cost of your mortgage, the interest rate and all of those other financial details that boggle your mind when you have to try to find a mortgage.

You won’t get that from Ryder.

What you will get is a fax, or perhaps a scan of a piece of paper in an email, where he has written all of that information down with a pen.

On a piece of paper.

That is Ryder.

Which, incidentally, is how he would prefer you refer to him.


Any phone call to or from Jim is answered mostly in the same way: “Ryder!”

With both an exclamation and mostly with a smile you can’t see but you can hear on the phone.

When I was a Board Member Ryder was the guy always looking for a way to get Spare Key out in the community.

He, himself, put our logo on his business cards and began the process of making a donation to Spare Key each time he helped someone get a mortgage.

He didn’t make a big deal out of his donations.  He just sent a check.  In an envelope.  That he addressed with a pen and a piece of paper explaining how the donation came about.

When I became Executive Director Ryder was still on the Board. 

He and his big heart.

He was one of the first people to call me and let me know whatever I needed he was there to do.

Sometimes he liked my ideas.  Sometimes he hated them.

Like the time we moved the Spare Key Groove Gala to a venue in which we discarded the sit-down dinner.

Ryder, being a good sport, showed up. 

But, when three or four of his drinks fell through the hole that was created when three cocktail tables were pulled together it was clear he was no fan of the change in the Gala venue.

When we moved the event to a sit-down dinner format he was back with a smile on his face – and his drinks stayed in place right in front of him where they belonged.

Most of the time we were able to agree to disagree.

Sometimes we couldn’t get to that point.

Despite one of those times Jim never gave up on Spare Key or walked away.

He stayed true to his promise and commitment to support the organization no matter what.

Which is what he has done since the first day he became a Board Member – and every day since that time.

I write about Ryder because Jim is the reason the world turns.

Whether it is the passion he brings to the industry through his leadership with the Minnesota Mortgage Association, or through his professionalism with his mortgage company, Fairway Independent Mortgage Company,  Ryder is the “Bounce” in Spare Key’s motto of helping families “Bounce and not Break.”

I often tell people that Ryder is the “Extra brother I don’t need.”

As someone who has five brothers (and three sisters) I adore them with all my heart.

Which tells you what I think about Ryder.

I adore him with all my heart.

We live in a big world where there is stress, tension and frustration and heart ache all around us.

We have a choice.

We can let all of that suck us in or drag us down.

Or, we can get up in the morning and commit to making a difference in the lives of others – even when our life sometimes seems so bleak.

Ryder gets up and he makes a difference.

I also write about Ryder because some days I have to remind myself that we live in a world where there is more good than not.

I also write this because I owe Ryder 38 more Long Island Teas.

I am looking forward to the next 38 events I see Ryder at for Spare Key, the MMA or some other organization, so I can finally complete my obligation to keep his whistle wet!

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