William Turner Bryant of Williamsburg, age 78, passed Sunday May 12, 2019. Born October 26, 1940 to the late Marvin Hersey and Nellie Mason Bryant, he was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School of Portsmouth, VA and The College of William and Mary. After graduation he remained in Williamsburg for the remainder of his life, a student of its history and dedicated member of its community.
Bill was an educator, journalist, historian, author, and civic activist. During his life he worked as a reporter and editor for the Virginia Gazette and Daily Press, taught speech and debate at Walsingham Academy, collaborated with Jesse Jackson and space colonization pioneer Gerard K O’Neill, toiled at the greenhouse of the Williamsburg Pottery, served as a lawn bowling pro at the Williamsburg Inn, led thousands on tours for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, organized and managed the Friday Luncheon Group, for over 30 years a community-wide forum for the candid discussion of regional issues in the Historic Triangle, and gave driving instruction to nuns of the Little Sisters of St. Francis. The list goes on.
Bill had a passion for education and civic responsibility, and was considered a mentor to many. He had the ability to connect with others and spark positive discussions on controversial topics. Bill believed in the people, in peace, love and understanding, and in the infinite promise of the future. And he firmly believed that it was his life’s work to help bring about this better future for us all. For him, the American Revolution was not a distant event of history but an ongoing process, and that only a revolution in our thinking could achieve the potential of our democracy.
He was an excellent conversationalist, always read to share the fruits of his boundless curiosity, and inspired anyone he met to think deeper and look at the bigger picture. He loved his family (and our cats!) and acted as a rock of support through all the ups and downs of life. Regardless of the situation he was always ready for a ‘secret’ handshake, hug, or late night snack. He will be missed by many and will always be remembered for his intellect, positivity, peaceful approach, and empathy.
As a civic activist Bill’s interests were wide-ranging. Some of the organizations he created and/or participated in over the years were: Williamsburg Peace Initiative, Citizens for Community Progress, Williamsburg Community Forum on Arms Control, Coalition for Quality Growth, Williamsburg Committee of Correspondence, and All Together Williamsburg. He was a prolific writer, authoring several volumes of poetry, Tomorrow Jerusalem, a history of Nat Turner and the Southampton Slave Insurrection of 1831, the 30th of May: a poem of the Revolution, and Call Me B, an account of his experiences conducting tours of Jamestown and Yorktown.
Bill was predeceased by his parents, and brother, M.H. Bryant. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Dorothy Aldhizer Bryant, sister Janice Lotterhos (Lieb), sons David (former wife Corina) and Michael, grandchildren Kellie Bryant, Caroline Brunetti (Nick), David Taylor Bryant, and Abby Bryant, and great-granddaughter Blair Brunetti.
A reception and celebration of Bill’s life will take place on June 1, 2pm, at Bucktrout Funeral Home at 4124 Ironbound Rd, Williamsburg, VA. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages you to donate to the Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library, which encourages literacy by providing books to needy children, Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg, or the charity of your choice.