Rotarian Steve Ryser departed peacefully


The Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard Pattaya (RCES), through their President Carl R Dyson, the board and membership have the sad news to confirm the untimely demise of their valued member and former ADG, RCES Past President Steve Ryser.

Steve departed peacefully after a long struggle with his health at the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, with his wife Toy at his bedside. Lotti his sister and Colette her daughter and friends from all over the world are expected to attend the funeral services, to be advised as soon as available.

Stefan Ryser 9 Dec. 1962 - 23 Apr. 2012 Stefan Ryser 9 Dec. 1962 – 23 Apr. 2012

Steve Ryser leaves behind a great void in all Rotary Circles in the Kingdom of Thailand. He served on District level as Assistant Governor and PETS Instructor to further friendship, harmony and better understanding of Rotary values and rules. On Club level Steve was an integral, valued part of RCES for more than a half a dozen years, serving the club and membership in numerous positions culminating as president during the Rotary year 2007 / 08.

Steve’s training classes with the club sponsored Thai-English DVD as a learning instrument will long be remembered for his personal devotion and genuine interest provided to school going children. His direct influence in improving education and lifestyle to the underprivileged in Thailand are legendary. He had made it a point, whenever possible, to visit schools and families personally which are all part of the RCES reasons to be.

“Steve’s Champagne Bar” at the RCES Annual Christmas Fair or his “1st August Garden Party” at his residence are events long to be remembered by those who have witnessed his congenial friendship.

Steve was a recognized, high-profile Rotarian far beyond the borders of the Kingdom of Thailand with deep rooted personal connections in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherland, Italy and many more countries.

Stefan was born in Zurich, the banking capital of Switzerland. His father was a successful architect, and Stefan was the youngest of three children. He attended school in Zurich, and by his own admission was just a midfielder in the academic stakes. However, he knew what he wanted to be by the time he was 12 years old. He wanted to be a chef. “I used to help mother in the kitchen when I was young. I liked the thought of the different possibilities you can have in cooking – the foods, the cultures, everything.”

After secondary school he went to catering college and three years later emerged as a qualified chef, to immediately move from Switzerland to Norway. He stayed there, land based, for a short interval then joined a cruise line, the Royal Viking. This was to give him his first taste of the mystic orient, aged 21 years, at a time when the less adventurous are only just getting the key of the door!

During the next three years he cruised all over the world, but he resigned, despite the attractions of the job. “I stopped, because if you don’t stop, you never stop. It’s a sickness! You can see the whole world as a young guy. It doesn’t cost you anything.”

His next port of call for his “dry land” experiences was the Philippines. He spent the first twelve months touring and then did what most chefs do – he set up a restaurant/bar. The reasons looked right at the time. It looked to be an easy life and the language was no problem. The timing was a problem however, as the country was in the changeover between the Marcos and Aquino administrations. Life was becoming dangerous, and it was no more fun, so he pulled up his hook and returned to Switzerland.

He worked there for twelve months, but this, he found, was not the right move either. “It was horrible. It was not possible for me to fit into the framework (of life in organized Switzerland) any more.”

His next port of call was directly to Pattaya. He knew of the resort city from the days on the cruise liner and even had a few friends here. That was 1989. He opened a cocktail bar, which he ran for three years and then helped set up the kitchen of the Mama Restaurant in Soi Diamond. After that, it was into his own restaurant on Second Road, “The Barrel” which he had for the next four years, but after selling it in 1996 he decided to retire. “Retirement is a very dangerous job,” says Stefan, “Do you know anyone who has survived it?” was his light-hearted throwaway line.

During that time, he set up the Formula 1 Sauber Fan Club in Pattaya, which at one point even made the acquaintance of team owner, Peter Sauber. He played golf. He supervised the building of his house – and played the stock market.

Returning to the F1 involvement, Stefan’s father, as well as being a bit of an individualist, was also a motor racing enthusiast, and would take young Stefan with him to watch race meetings. As a youngster, Stefan did have some motor racing aspirations, but these were transitory and not the all consuming passion that it has to be for those who actually compete; however, the interest has always been there.

His advice to anyone is to go out and see the world – and be happy. “When the sun comes up, it’s another beautiful day. Even when you’re having a bad day on the golf course, there’s orchids and birds – that’s also important.”

Stefan Ryser was an interesting man, with a very deep and thoughtful nature. A man whose main theme was “Have Fun” and he certainly seemed to know how to do that. There’s probably a lesson in there for us all.

Stefan’s life, though ending prematurely, was one that he enjoyed, right until his final hour. Pattaya is a poorer place without him.

Steve, we miss you – RIP.