Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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Gerald Arthur Bryant (1934-2018)

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Gerald Bryant

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Gerald Arthur Bryant, a onetime auto mechanic who became a teacher of vocational education, and an Owens Community College administrator, died Sunday in ProMedica Toledo Hospital. He was 83.

He had a heart attack, his wife, Kathy Bryant, said.

Mr. Bryant, best known as “Jerry,” retired in the late 1990s as director of auxiliary services for Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township. In that role he oversaw the bookstore and library; child care, and facility maintenance, plus food service, phone systems, and the police department, his wife said.

“He had a good mind to get that all organized and keep that running,” his wife said.

He had a reputation for being dependable.

“What needed to be done, Jerry got it done,” said Ivan Kurtz, a former Owens assistant president, provost, and dean, who also taught at the college. “Whatever area Jerry was in charge of, it was in good hands. He was an excellent administrator.

“I think he had a real feel for students, and he got his positive feedback from knowing the students and what they were accomplishing and what they accomplished when they graduated,” Mr. Kurtz said. “He was a very student-oriented person. That was the hallmark of Jerry.” 

Mr. Bryant left behind years of hands-on, and elbow-deep experience at area auto shops for a job teaching auto mechanics at Whitmer High School, of which he was an alumnus.

He taught auto mechanics at the then-new Penta Vocational School in the mid-1960s and, starting in 1968, became Owens’ dean of engineering and automotive technologies. He later was dean of continuing education.

“He enjoyed being with the young people and learning different things from them and inventing innovative ways to teach,” his wife said. Students stopped by the family home, just to talk, when he taught at Whitmer.

“He’d been a kid too and understood a lot of things they were going through,” his wife said.

He was formerly active in Vocational Industrial Clubs of America. He also served on the consumer appeals board of Ford Motor Co.

Mr. Bryant, a Mason, was a longtime member of the Zenobia Shrine, helped with its projects, and, in 1997, was the shrine’s potentate. For a decade, he was on Shriners Hospitals for Children Chicago board of governors, which meant board meetings at least once a month.

“He loved it so much, so when he trained me, he continued to ride with me,” said Jeffrey Kuhn of Tiffin, his successor on the board, who became Zenobia Shrine potentate in 2006. During those long drives, the men would sort out Shrine or hospital concerns or personal matters.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Mr. Kuhn said. “Jerry Bryant was a great person to help all of us.’’

He was born Nov. 30, 1934, in Hudson, Mich., to Nota and James Bryant, and spent his childhood in Adrian. The family moved to Ohio and the Washington Local school district, where Mr. Bryant attended Horace Mann School and Whitmer High.

He later received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Toledo.

Surviving are his wife, the former Kathy Miller, whom he married Dec. 21, 1963; sons Jonathan and JB Bryant; daughters Gia Curry and Gina Macy; brother, Jim Bryant, plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Friday at Walker Funeral Home, Sylvania Township. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Reformation Lutheran Church on Douglas Road in Toledo, where he was a longtime member. 

The family suggests tributes to Shriners Hospitals for Children-Chicago.

Contact Mark Zaborney at mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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