Terry (alias Tuffy) Ryan was born and raised in Defiance, Ohio, the sixth of
Evelyn Ryan's ten children. She spent her childhood watching the parade of
prizes coming through the front door as a result of her mother's quick humor
and "knack for words."
She inherited her mother's love of language and, after graduating from Bowling Green State University with a degree in English and Journalism, she began her working career with the American Medical Association in Chicago, editing the journals of ophthalmology, neurology, and children's diseases.
From there, she worked as a driver delivering drive-away cars throughout the country and landed in San Francisco in 1969, where (way before today's high-powered printers and copiers) she made $2.10 an hour as a human collator. In 1972, Terry became a copy editor for a large insurance company, and for the past sixteen years has worked as a technical writer for application software.
Terry is the author of two books of poetry (Recipes and Amaranth, Druid Heights Press) and has contributed articles to the San Francisco Chronicle, The Writer, and Bay Guardian. She has been a book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle and an editor of books for California publishers, including Chronicle Books, The University of San Francisco, Ten Speed Press, Arcus, and Booklegger Press.
She is the writing half of the cartooning team of T.O. Sylvester, whose single-panel cartoons have appeared in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, Ms. Magazine, Mother Jones, Saturday Evening Post, Saturday Review, Boy's Life, Datamation, Vegetarian Times, Bay Guardian, San Francisco Magazine, Women's Glib Cartoon Calendars, and a number of text books and anthologies Comic Power of Emily Dickinson (University of Texas), Got Milk? (Prima Publishing), Terra Non Firma (Portable Stanford), Women's Glib (Crossing Press), among others. T.O. Sylvester's literary cartoons ran weekly in the San Francisco Chronicle for 16 years (1983-1999). In 1993, the cartoons of T.O. Sylvester were featured in a three-month exhibit at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.
After her mother's death, Terry adopted Evelyn's African Gray parrot, Clancy, who offers invaluable daily insights on life's ups ("You're so funny!") and downs ("That's not FUNNY!") in the exact voice of Evelyn Ryan.