Growing up in Hingham, Keith Ryan held his political beliefs so strongly that he seemed like a real-life version of a popular TV character who was considerably more conservative than everyone else in his household.
"We used to kid when he was in high school that it was like 'Family Ties' -- he was Alex Keaton," said Mr. Ryan's father, Bob, a sports columnist for the Globe.
His political convictions brought Mr. Ryan into a career of federal service, which ultimately led to Pakistan, where he was an attache for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, based in Islamabad. Mr. Ryan apparently took his life, according to the US State Department, and was found today in his Islamabad residence. He was 37 and was about to return home to visit his wife and three children in Silver Spring, Md.
"As anyone who has been confronted with the suicide of a family member can tell you, the only word to describe the sensation is devastated," Bob Ryan said. "We will always have questions."
The US Embassy in Pakistan issued a statement praising Mr. Ryan, who, his father said, had been stationed in Islamabad since December 2006.
"Mr. Ryan was a well-respected, trusted, and longtime member of the US Mission in Pakistan," the statement said. "His death is a great loss.
He will be sorely missed by all who have known and worked with him here in Pakistan."
Even as a child, Mr. Ryan seemed destined for high-pressure jobs and the accompanying burdens of responsibility.
"He was extremely bright and extremely opinionated and extremely outgoing," his father said. "He was an extrovert's extrovert -- a very precocious child who was sure of himself from a very early age."
Graduating from Hingham High School was the first step and Mr. Ryan rigorously applied himself to accomplishing the next three: earning degrees from Trinity College in Hartford, the London School of Economics, and Boston College Law School. He didn't seek help.
"College applications? He took care of it," his father said. "Got himself into the London School of Economics, we had nothing to do with it.
Got himself into BC Law, we had nothing to do with it."
Mr. Ryan initially thought about becoming a prosecutor, then went into the US Border Patrol instead, his father said. He was based in San Diego, then switched to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, in its Los Angeles office. Some assignments were dangerous -- not that Mr. Ryan minded, even as his relatives worried.
"He liked adventure," his father said. "When he worked for the INS, he was on the violent gang task force, which he thought was great."
Twelve years ago, he married Kate Moriarty. They have 8-year-old triplets, Conor, John, and Amelia. Mr. Ryan also leaves a sister, Jessica of Hingham.
While Mr. Ryan was based in Islamabad, his family lived in Silver Spring and he returned home to visit several times since the end of 2006, most recently in December, his father said.
Bob Ryan said that he and his wife, Elaine, and their daughter-in-law will announce a funeral service soon, but must wait until his son can be brought home from Islamabad.
The US Embassy in Pakistan said in the statement that although "there does not appear to have been any foul play," a full investigation will be conducted. However, Mr. Ryan's father said he had been told today that Pakistani authorities had yet to issue a ruling, which could add time to the decision-making process in Islamabad.
"We'd like to thank everyone who has contacted us to express their sympathy and support," Bob Ryan said.
Steven Ainsley, the Globe's publisher, said in a statement today that "I know that we join everyone who knows Bob in expressing our deepest sorrow at his loss. The thoughts and prayers of all Globe employees, past and present, are with him and his family."