SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | Former Gov. George Ryan said Thursday that he took advantage of his newfound freedom last weekend by going to Springfield to celebrate the birthday of his triplet daughters.
Ryan, who spent 5½ years in federal prison on a 2006 corruption conviction, finished a six-month stint of home confinement on July 3 and is charting out the next chapter of his life.
"I'm trying to get back to private life," Ryan told The Associated Press by phone from his home in Kankakee.
Former staffer and longtime friend Tony Leone said Ryan had dinner with family members on Friday and Saturday, and stayed at Leone's Pasfield House Inn. The second family dinner also was attended by a handful of former staffers, Leone said.
Ryan and his children and grandchildren also visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on Saturday. Ryan and his late wife, Lura Lynn, were instrumental in getting the library built. It opened in 2005.
Lura Lynn, who was Ryan's high school sweetheart, died in 2011 while he was in prison. Ryan mused about her frequently throughout the weekend, but he was generally in great spirits, Leone said.
"He was really light, back to his old self. He was surrounded by family," Leone said. "The younger kids would come up and cuddle with him."
Ryan lost weight and dealt with infected teeth in prison. His dental problems were initially compounded by financial troubles, Leone said.
"When I first saw him I was kind of set back," Leone said of Ryan's appearance. "But he had to wait for his Social Security check (to have his teeth fixed)."
Stripped of his pension, Ryan is "trying to think what he's going to be doing in the future," Leone said. "He's got to make some money."
He said Ryan is working on a memoir that they have discussed during recent visits.
"We have talked when I went up there two times about our recollections of incidents with people. Some are really funny," Leone said.