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Dentist John Bryan dies at 68

Courtesy of the Bryan family John Bryan passed Easter Sunday at 68. A rosary will be celebrated at 1 p.m. April 13 at St. Joachim Catholic Church. A funeral Mass will follow at 2 p.m. in the church.


Longtime Madera dentist John Bryan died unexpectedly in his sleep Easter morning, April 1. His death was announced to a stunned congregation at St. Joachim Church’s 9:30 a.m. Mass, where he had for years been a choir member.

Bryan was 68.

“John was a renaissance man,” said close friend Mike Todd. “He was my mentor in so many ways.”

Dr. Bryan believed in supporting his community. He was a past president of the St. Joachim’s Parish Council and the Young Men’s Institute. He sang in the church’s folk choir that leads the singing at the 9:30 a.m. Mass. His public service inspired Todd to follow his example and serve the church in a like manner, Todd said.

“John sang in the church choir forever,” he said.

Both men are members of the Madera Elks Lodge. Bryan was a talented chef and cooked many meals served by the lodge with a group of members dubbed the “Chow Dogs.”

The Bakersfield native lived in Fresno and graduated from San Joaquin Memorial High School. He served in the U.S. Army as a medic in Vietnam, was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart. He is a life member of both Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1981 and American Legion Post 11.

He was a man of many hobbies. He learned to surf a few years ago at an age when most men would retire from that sport.

John enjoyed bicycling and was working on getting his pilot’s license.

“He owned a plane and was learning to fly,” said his brother, Jim Bryan, also of Madera.

He earned a degree as a certified Master Gardener. He was a Madera Speedway racecar driver. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club, and as such helped stage parades and supported other community service of the club.

Dr. Bryan attended dental school at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., earning a degree of Doctor of Medical Dentistry.

Professional societies to which he belonged include the American, California and Fresno-Madera Dental Associations. He held a membership in the Academy of General Dentists and he was a fellow of the American College of Dentistry.

“He was very generous and many people have told me he provided them with no-cost dental services through the years,” said Jim. “He was a very popular dentist. So many people hate going to the dentist but he was very gentle.”

John and Jim both have enjoyed decorating their stately houses on Yosemite Avenue for the holidays. Many people thought they had a Christmas decoration competition in progress, but the brothers really just enjoyed their displays.

“A friend of his once told me that in everything he did, my brother was massive and impressive,” said Jim. “He enjoyed a collection of good wine that he shared with family and friends.”

Dr. Bryan is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ellen Bryan of Madera, son Sean and wife Aubri Bryan and grandsons Brody and Rylan of San Jose, and mother Mary Stilles of Madera.

He was one of 11 children in a blended family and the fourth to pass on, said Jim.

A rosary will be celebrated at 1 p.m. April 13 at St. Joachim Catholic Church. A funeral Mass will follow at 2 p.m. in the church. Arrangements are under the direction of Jay Chapel, 1121 Roberts Avenue, Madera.

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