Former TVA chairman John Ryder dies

Memphis attorney John Ryder, a former general counsel for the Republican National Committee who served on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority from 2019 through the end of last year, has died after a long battle with cancer.

Ryder was active in the state and national Republican parties for decades and served for 16 years on the board of the Republican National Committee.

He was elected in 2020 as chairman of the nine-member TVA board after former President Donald Trump removed then Chairman James "Skip" Thompson along with another former chairman, Richard Howorth, after the two backed giving pay raises to TVA President Jeff Lyash, who Trump said is paid "a ridiculous" compensation package valued last year at $9.9 million.

In a statement Sunday, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden praised Ryder as "our friend and a true champion for all Tennessee Republicans.

"Ryder has been a confidant of almost every elected Republican in Tennessee for the last half century through his tireless and selfless giving, support and expertise," Golden said.

Former U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander credited Ryder for helping strengthen the GOP in Tennessee in a state that was once controlled primarily by the Democratic Party.

"With deft legal skills and an easy manner, John Ryder helped build the Tennessee Republican Party over nearly a half century," Alexander said.

In recognition of his service to the Tennessee Valley Authority, flags at TVA facilities will be at half-staff Tuesday through Friday.

"John was a friend and mentor who cared deeply for the communities and people that TVA serves," Lyash said in a statement. "John's leadership, professionalism and counsel served TVA and the people of this region well. Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Lain and his daughters."

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga, praised Ryder for his public service in a variety of state roles.

"He represented the best of the Tennessee volunteer spirit," Fleischmann said in a statement Monday.

(READ MORE: TVA considers coal plant switch options, climate impact)

A longtime Memphis resident, Ryder was a bankruptcy and election law attorney with the Harris Shelton law firm. He served as chairman of the board of trustees for Opera Memphis, secretary for Memphis Rotary and a board member of the local YMCA.

Ryder earned his undergraduate degree at Wabash College before earning his law degree at Vanderbilt, where he served on the adjunct law faculty.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @dflessner1.