Edward Ryan, a carpenter by trade who built what would become NVR Inc., the housing industry’s fourth-largest home builder, died on June 1 in the Catholic hospital UPMC Mercy at the age of 88. The cause of death was not disclosed.

A Pittsburgh native, Ryan started out building homes in his spare time after being discharged as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, from which he received a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered during World War II.

He got an offer from a buyer for the house he was building originally for himself and his wife, the former Ann Chastaine, which he sold before they moved in. That transaction inspired Ryan to form Edward M. Ryan, Inc. Builders in 1948, the precursor to Ryan Homes, which incorporated in 1961. In 1986, Ryan Homes was acquired by NVHomes LP, which eventually became NVR. Ryan Homes remains one of three brands—along with NVHomes and Fox Ridge Homes—under which the Reston, Va.-based corporation builds in 27 metro markets in 16 states.

Ryan retired in 1973 and turned his attention to harness racing. With his longtime friend Joe Hardy—another Pittsburgh native who founded and still owns the 84 Lumber pro dealer chain—Ryan acquired The Meadows Racetrack, which reputedly was the first in the nation to offer computerized betting. Ryan was also a noted philanthropist.

His wife died in 2002. Ryan is survived by his son and daughter, two brothers, nine grandchildren, and 17 great grandchildren. Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to Heavenly Cause Foundation for the Edward M. Ryan, Sr. Scholarship, Manor Oak #2, Suite 100, 1910 Cochran Rd., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15220.

John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Pittsburgh, PA.