"Guess who showed up at his funeral, all the way from Washington?" Westphal said. "Everybody in the audience was surprised. Paul Ryan did not consider him an enemy because he was a member of the opposite party."
Val Crofts teaches government at the high school in Milton, a small town near Janesville, and each year takes advanced placement students on a trip to Washington to meet with political figures.
Ryan has been a big supporter of the program, Crofts said, but last year was able to spend only a few minutes with the visitors because of a budget presentation in the House.
"After we got home, he told us he wanted more time with us, and he came to our high school and gave us an hour of Q-and-A," Crofts said.
Crofts said Ryan has good chemistry with the students, regardless of their political views.
"He jokes around with them and explains things about the budget and Washington so well," Crofts said. "Government doesn't seem so stuffy and old and faraway anymore."
Associated Press writers Brian Bakst and Todd Richmond in Janesville, Wis.; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis.; Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee; Dan Sewell in Oxford, Ohio; and Adam Geller in New York contributed to this report.