Remembering Mr. Mahoney

Beloved math teacher’s legacy lives on at the Upper School


Ryan Mahoney stopped teaching at Blake and started his fight with cancer after being diagnosed with Follicular cell lymphoma in April of 2018. Mr. Mahoney had taught math at Blake for just under ten years before his fight with cancer that eventually took his life on August 31st of 2019.

The classes of 2020 and 2021 were the last group of students that were taught by Mr. Mahoney before he got sick. Although many didn’t know him, he was a well respected and loved teacher at the Blake upper school. He will be especially missed by his former students and members of the Blake staff, who knew him for years as a kind, caring person.

Mahoney had been a submarine officer in the US Navy from 1996 to 2003. Later he became an adjunct math professor at the University of Minnesota as well as Saint Thomas University. He then started teaching math at Blake which he continued until his passing.

Former students of Mahoney share that they remember him for storytelling and presiding over a joyful classroom environment. Sophia Rohlfsen ‘20, a student of Mahoney in the 2016-2017 school year, says “It’s difficult to lose him. He was such a great person and teacher.”

Lily Delianedis ‘20 says of Mahoney, who was her math teacher in the 2017-2018 school year, “I was in his really fun block 7 class … He would oftentimes tell us his Navy stories … It was a great bonding class. He was a very fun and caring teacher and we will miss him very much.”

Jon Dicus bonded with Mahoney through their love of bicycling: “I remember our rides out to Middle School for faculty meetings.  He was a great conversationalist. Ryan always wore a backpack, and rode a single-speed bike.  I appreciated those details because it wasn’t about the gear for him, but rather the love of riding … Listening to Ryan’s stories about teaching himself to ski, I was again impressed.  He loved the challenge of a steep learning curve.”

Fellow math teacher Alex Fisher says of Mahoney “He was a great teacher.  He had exciting ideas about math teaching, of course, things like teaching trig using the unit circle instead of ‘soh cah toa’ and making problems about ship navigation for Precalculus.  But the more impressive thing to me about Ryan was just how genuine he was as a person, how he was so kind and understanding to his students and his peers. It’s wonderful to get to be friends with a person like that, and it means we all miss having him here that much more.”

Eric Nystrom worked with Mahoney over the years and says “I just really thought he was a great guy. I enjoyed talking to him about his military career and his life in California. He was always upbeat and positive, even when things were not going well.”

Mahoney is survived by his two children and his wife. Nystrom adds, “He really loved his kids, that’s the saddest thing. He was very excited to have kids and that was the saddest.”

Joe Mairs ‘20, when asked about his former teacher, says “Mr. Mahoney was one of my favorite teachers and some of my best memories from sophomore year are from class with him. We are always going to miss him.”