William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
  • November 17, 1932 - July 14, 2017
  • Nashville, Tennessee

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BRYAN, William Jennings, Jr. - Age 84, of Nashville, Tennessee, died on July 14, 2017. Bill was born on November 17, 1932, in Nashville, TN, to the late William J. Bryan, Sr. and Clara (Harris) Bryan. He attended Parmer School and Montgomery Bell Academy, where he was president of his senior class and all-city in football; he also earned the Sigma Alpha Epsilon “True Gentleman” award. Bill truly exemplified MBA’s ideal of “Gentleman, Scholar, Athlete,” a philosophy he carried with him throughout his life.

Bill attended college at Vanderbilt where he studied English and was active in the Naval ROTC and in Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He graduated in 1954 with a BA in English. Bill loved poetry in particular; he often recited his favorite poems from memory. He was also a great lover of music and in his later years found joy in singing, dancing and playing the ukulele.

After Vanderbilt, Bill spent time in the Navy before moving back to Tennessee and teaching English at Battle Ground Academy. He then moved to New York City to work while studying to become an actuary. During this period Bill met his wife, Ann Seymour from Tenafly, New Jersey. The two married on August 22, 1959 and lived for several years in New York before returning to Nashville to be closer to Bill’s ailing father.

Bill and Ann made a beautiful life for themselves and their family in Nashville. Bill adored his bride, who complemented his calm and soft-spoken nature with her vivacious and outgoing personality. They were the model of a happy, loving couple for their 53 years of marriage. Ann passed in 2013, with Bill at her side as he was every day of their life together.

In 1971, Bill became a founding partner at the actuarial firm of Bryan, Pendleton, Swats and McAllister, where he worked for over 25 years. He was a generous supporter of local institutions such as MBA, Vanderbilt, the Community Foundation and St. George’s Church, as well as Davidson College in North Carolina where he and Ann founded a scholarship for needy students from Tennessee. After his retirement, Bill volunteered his time with the PENCIL Foundation and stayed active with tutoring and coaching math teams at Overbrook School. He was also a dedicated Meals on Wheels driver for 20 years, continuing in later years with his son-in-law as driver. They drove the route on the day he passed.

Bill’s colleagues and friends describe him as one of the best men they have ever known. He made an impression on all who knew him as a remarkably conscientious and modest man, one of those people who quietly do the right thing without drawing attention or fanfare. While he excelled in nearly everything he put his hand to, what people remember most about Bill was his kind and gentle nature.

Bill is survived by his three children, Elizabeth Bryan Bass and husband Langston of Savannah; GA, Mary Bryan Bass and husband Walker of Nashville, TN; and Bill Bryan III of San Diego, CA; two grandchildren, Carey and Langston Bass; a sister, Beverly Bryan Sibley and husband Horace of the Dominican Republic; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and his wife.

Visitation will be held from four o’ clock in the evening until seven on Monday, July 17, 2017 at Woodlawn. Funeral Service will be held at eleven-thirty in the morning on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be directed to either St. Luke’s Community House of Nashville or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.