Having forwarded Victoria a copy of my Blog on the passing of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, she responded with the sad news of Will's passing. I was blown away. And my sadness was compounded only moreso by the fact that Willie Bryant was married to one of my homegirls, Soror and favorite person on the planet, the former Goldie Battle (Watkins)! We had actually made him an "honorary Oklahoman" - a running joke between us that never got old.
He was such an easygoing, wonderful guy, with a great sense of humor, and a great deal of pride. However, the most important thing to us was how much he and Goldie loved each other, and seemed to be made for each other right from the outset.
Goldie was (and still is) an elegant, breezy, eloquent, beautiful woman, who enchanted and charmed everyone she met - and apparently Will was no exception. He carved her out of our coterie of bachelorettes who were dedicated to the proposition of having a good time and at the same time, making a difference in the world. Will wooed her away, won her heart, wed her and whisked her our of Harlem up to Rockland County!! Kind of like a fairy tale. However, they were both in their late 50's, and taking a chance on dreams that so many had long ago given up on. An that's what made it all the more wonderful; and what made Willie Bryant one of my personal heroes (I admit to being a hopeless romanticist) - he saw what/who he wanted, and went for it/her. They were a dynamic couple from day one!! And they enjoyed twenty years of a life of love and togetherness.
|Goldie and Willie Bryant - 20 Years of Love, Happiness and Devotion|
And that was the other wonderful thing about Willie and Goldie - the capacity to dovetail in on each other's thoughts - to be so in sync with each other. It was apparent that I wans't the only one aware of this dynamic duo, for in March of 2012 both Willie and Goldie were honored at a Howard University Charter Day luncheon sponsored by the HU Alumni Association of Westchester and Rockland Counties.
He also initiated the Claudia M. Bryant and Willie L. Bryant, Jr. Endowed Scholarship at Florida A&M University with fifty thousand dollars, in honor of his mother and son.
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: "Yes, I would like for you to contact GIL Scott Heron(?) for me. We have an interest in bring him to Rockland County on Sunday, March 14, 2009 at or about 5 PM for National Women History Month.Let me know the possibility and the details of how we may conference call with him or his agent.Then, too, you may know of a well named female artist as well. Keep up the great work in the comunity! Thank you, Willie L Bryant, DDS "
Actually, one of the things I will miss most about Will Bryant, now that he's joined the ranks of the Ancestor/Angels, are his pithy statements and responses to my Blog posts and emails - they were generally short, sweet and to the point.
Goldie and Willie were part of the first ten recipients on my Gloria Dulan-Wilson Blog mailing list, and I was always pleased when I struck a responsive cord from him in reference to something I had said - whether he agreed with me or not. Some of them I'm sharing with you below:
>Being originally from Florida, Willie was particularly incensed at the Trayvon Martin Case, and took a definitive stance. This is the response from an article I wrote where there was a great deal of division over whether to boycott Florida:
4/4/2012 Subject: Re: FLORIDA NAACP AGAINST BOYCOTT
In reference to the Trayvon Martin murder:
"All: Let us keep focus on the arrest of murderer George Zimmerman. Let us not get side tracked. Let us be united on the arrest and refrain from striking out at each other. We will always have different strategies as did Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Malcolm X, to name a few, as well as our major organizations, the NAACP, CORE, SCLC and the NAN.
Willie L. Bryant, Diamond Life Member, NAACP"
>He was deeply spiritual, and would express it in his writings, such as a commentary on a photo I sent him in 2010, entitled An Unbelievable Bridge (where the water flowed over the bridge instead of under it): "God made man to achieve many unbelievable tasks. Willie L Bryant"
>He was a loyal supporter of President Barack Obama - and responded to an article I posted against verbal attacks made against him during the Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations via an eBlast warning people to never send me any Ant-Obama attacks or emails or they would be blocked:
"I wonder who is paying the $1.25 for this attack on our president. I agree block them all out!
On another note, I stand for justice in the killing of our beloved drum major Robert Champion. This brutal attack was not Hazing. It was what is was---Homicide --and in my humble opinion it was done with the intent to do extreme harm. A loyal FAMUan,Willie L Bryant"
>A loyal Alumnus of Florida A& M University, affectionately known as FAMU, he never missed an opportunity to honor anyone affiliated with his alma mater. He reached out to Victoria and myself when there was an event or opportunity that should be included in the media:
09/15/11: "Victoria and Gloria: I would appreciate any news coverage for the event listed above and below. Ms. Joycelyn Morris is the NY Chapter/State President of the FAMU National Alumni Association.She can be reached at the email above and the University contact person can be reached below. Your support in this matter is appreciated. Willie"
>And when the great Gil Noble, of "LIKE IT IS," suffered a stroke, Goldie and Willie were the first to respond to the email requesting prayers for him: "8/4/11 Our prayers are for our brother to return to full health soon.Keep us informed. Brother Bryant and Goldie"
However, our world became even smaller when Willie and I discovered we had even more in common than his marriage to my homegirl, Goldie. It turned out that I had attended Lincoln University with his twin sisters, Ann and Sharon Ashley (Class of '70)! What are the odds of that happening??? This discovery came via a very circuitous route - since it had never been discussed. Having attended an alumni weekend at Lincoln, at the same time his sisters did, they apparently shared some photos with Will and Goldie that included me in a group shot. When he and Goldie pointed me out in the photo, Ann and Sharon informed him that we had been classmates (though they were freshmen and I was a senior at the time), and our rooms were adjacent to each other. What a small and wonderful world! Willie joked about it: "Well you've made me an honorary Oklahoman, I guess that means I have to adopt you now! I already liked you, so this is really great."
I guess I began to notice that Will had not responded to my emails in quite some time around the middle of 2015 - however, it didn't occur to me that he had been ill. Though we hadn't spoken in some time, I chalked that up to their usual whirlwind life style. I was so caught off the mark to learn that he had been fighting a losing battle with cancer.
He leaves behind him to share so many treasured memories, his wife, Goldie, and two of his three children,Wendell L. Bryant, and Amy D. Bryant (Willie“William”L. Bryant is deceased), his sisters Ann and Sharon; as well as sisters and brothers, nieces, nephews, and other family members, a host of friends, fraternity brothers, community associates and admirers - including yours truly.
My family - Kira, Ra and Adiya - and I send our love, support and condolences to Goldie, Ann, Sharon, and the rest of his brothers, sisters and family members, upon the transition of this wonderful soul to the next plane of action as Ancestor/Angel/Activist.