She graduated from Jefferson High in Northeast Portland and was chosen as Portland Rose Festival Queen in 1955. She attended Willamette University and Portland State University, but did not graduate from college.
She was known as an advocate for education and for equality for women and minorities. An elementary school in Beaverton is named after her. Nancy Ryles served on the Beaverton school board from 1972 to 1978, as well as on the State Advisory Council for Career and Vocational Education.
The Oregon Education Association gave her its Human Rights Award in 1974.
She was named Beaverton"s "First Citizen" in 1979. Ryles was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1978, succeeding Tom Marsh, and serving what was then House District 5 (but which became District 7 after a legislative reapportionment plan approved by the Oregon Legislature in 1981).
In 1982, she was elected to the Oregon State Senate, District 3—a newly created district formed from portions of other districts (including about half of former Senate District 5). She served two terms in each chamber of the Oregon Legislature, and in both chambers was appointed to serve on the Education Commission of the States.
She was proud of the passage of a 1981 bill mandating public kindergartens in Oregon, which built on work begun by then-legislator Betty Roberts in 1965.
She co-chaired a Senate Task Force in 1985 and 1986 which attempted to pass aid in dying legislation. The legislative efforts were unsuccessful, but were an important precursor to the passage of the Oregon Death with Dignity Acting in 1994. She was appointed to the Oregon Public Utility Commission (Pacific Union College) by Governor Neil Goldschmidt in April 1987 and resigned her position in the Oregon Senate effective May 15, 1987, to take up her new duties.
She was the first woman to serve on the Oregon Pacific Union College. Ryles died September 12, 1990, of cancer.
She was still serving on the state"s Public Utility Commission at the time, her term due to end on March 31, 1991. The program had been Ryles" own idea.
She had regretted having never graduated from college, and she wanted to help other women avoid having such regrets. The scholarship fund was valued at $708,000 in 2010.
In 1992, a newly opened elementary school in the Beaverton School District was given the name, Nancy Ryles Elementary School, in tribute to Ryles.
Oregon Republican Party, Republican Party.
She served in the Oregon House of Representatives, the Oregon Senate and as one of three members of the state"s Public Utility Commission.
Married Vernon B. Ryles, 1957. Children: Scott, Ashley.