Cover photo for Gerald "Jerry" D. Bryant's Obituary
Gerald "Jerry" D. Bryant Profile Photo
1925 Jerry 2023

Gerald "Jerry" D. Bryant

May 28, 1925 — September 9, 2023

Gerald “Jerry” D. Bryant, 98, of Grand Island died Saturday, September 9, 2023, at CHI-St. Francis in Grand Island from complications of COVID.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Grand Island. The Rev. Bill Pavuk will officiate. Burial will follow in the Grand Island City Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Pauls Lutheran Church.

Apfel Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Gerald "Jerry" Dale Bryant was born May 28, 1925, at his maternal grandparents' home in Beaver City to Gail S. and Clara V. (Smith) Bryant. He first lived on the family farm southwest of Beaver City near Hendley. He attended grades 1 through 8 at Pennsylvania School, District 74, near Hendley in Furnas County. He walked or ran 1.5 miles each way to the country school. He attended 9th grade at Beaver City High School.

The family moved to a farm northwest of Indianola in Furnas County in 1938. He attended grades 10 through 12 at Havana High School and rode a horse 2 miles each way to high school. He graduated in a class with six students in 1942.

He enrolled in McCook Junior College in the fall of 1942 and graduated in 1947 with a teaching certificate.

In 1951, he started attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln full-time and received a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1952. He received a master's degree in elementary school administration in 1956.

Mr. Bryant moved to Grand Island in the fall of 1952, where he was a fifth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School for three years. Then, he was principal of Jefferson Elementary School from 1955 to 1960.

Mr. Bryant married Joyce (Geddes) Bryant on June 4, 1955, at St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Grand Island. They celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary in 2012.

Starting in 1960, he became elementary school curriculum coordinator for Grand Island Public Schools and continued in that position for 15 years. In 1975, he was named assistant superintendent for Grand Island Public Schools for grades K-12 and retired in 1987 after a 39-year career in education. 

Mr. Bryant was the oldest of nine children. When he was growing up, he spent numerous hours helping his father farm. He enjoyed spending time with his extended maternal and paternal family.

When he was a graduate student at the University of Northern Colorado-Greeley, the family began tent camping on weekend in the Rocky Mountains. Later, the family spent summer vacations at cabins in Estes Park and hiked extensively in Rocky Mountain National Park. Mr. Bryant and his wife bought a travel trailer in the mid-1980s and traveled extensively in it for 10 years. They also traveled to other destinations during their retirement years.

In approximately 1980, Mr. Bryant started an annual Bryant Family Reunion for descendants of his parents, Gail S. and Clara V. Bryant. The reunion has occurred annually since that time.

Mr. Bryant was a member of numerous professional organizations, including Phi Delta Kappa, Nebraska and National Association of Elementary Principals, Nebraska and National Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Nebraska Council of School Administrators, Nebraska Council of Economic Education, and Missouri Valley Personnel Association. He served in these roles in various organizations: Grand Island Education Association, president; National Education Association, life member, Nebraska Parent Teachers Association, life member, Nebraska Elementary Principals, president, Nebraska ASCD, president; Nebraska delegate to ASCD National Board of directors, 10 years; ASCD National Executive Council, three years.

He was chairman of the committee that founded the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. He edited an educational magazine called "Gee, I Know How" for Grand Island Public Schools from 1957 to 1962.

He served on a committee in 1954 to examine K-12 physical education, resulting in hiring a K-12 P.E. director who developed a K-12 curriculum. A high-quality program was developed. He started K-6 parent-teacher conferences in 1961.

He developed educational specifications and helped plan three new elementary schools: Knickrehm, Jefferson, and Starr Elementary Schools, and helped plan additions to Knickrehm, Newell, Gates, and Howard Elementary Schools.

In 1961, he introduced an indexed salary schedule to the Board of Education that was adopted after a two-year study. This resulted in a competitive salary schedule that encouraged pursuing a graduate education.

He developed relationships with professors at the University of Nebraska-College, Doane College, and Hastings College, as well as other colleges, for students to complete student teaching in Grand Island.

Mr. Bryant initiated a review of the total fine arts curriculum (strings, instrumental music, vocal music, and elementary art). All aspects of the program were expanded. A grant-funded program was developed in collaboration with Stuhr Museum where elementary students were transported to the museum, and trained docents worked with students. Stuhr Museum took over the program after the grant expired.

He developed a K-6 library and media program. Howard Elementary School was the only elementary school with a decent-sized library properly cataloged in 1960. A grant funded in 1975 helped each school develop its media center.

Grand Island Public Schools was among school districts that were members of the Nebraska Television Council in the early 1960s. The council formed a committee to develop programs that could be used on educational TV to enrich a school district's curriculum.

Mr. Bryant was involved in numerous efforts to improve the teaching of reading in the school district for grades K-6, such as hiring a reading director and starting a Young Authors Writing Program. 

He worked with Lincoln Elementary School Principal Susan Wiese to establish the Head Start Program in 1965 at Howard and Lincoln Elementary Schools.

After retiring in 1987, he: wrote a 250-page history of Grand Island Public Schools from 1955 to 1991; served six years on the Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska Board; served on the executive committee and training committee for the Overland Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America; served on the Grand Island Public Library board for 10 years, including four years as president. He was president of the board when a project was planned to double the library's size and also was a member of the Grand Island Public Library Foundation Board.

He received numerous professional awards, including: Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, 1984; Nebraska ASCD life membership, 1988; Award of Excellence from Teachers College Alumni Association for contributions to the university and education, 1999; Nebraska Library Association Outstanding Trustee Award, 2005; Grand Island Alpha Delta Kappa Founders Day Award, 2010.

He was a member of St. Pauls Lutheran Church and the Saddle Club.

Survivors include three children: Lee (Rae) Bryant, Houston, Texas; Jay (Gina) Bryant, Rockford, IL; Carol Bryant, Grand Island; one brother: Bill (Norma Lea) Bryant, Curtis; one sisters, Doris Whitacre, Kearney; three grandchildren: Jeff (Shivani) Bryant, Austin, TX; Emma (Chris) Devaney, Rockford, IL; and Isabel Bryant, Rockford, IL; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife in 2012; four brothers, Harold "Gene" Bryant, Warren "Jim" Bryant, Myron "Wayne" Bryant, and Floyd L. Bryant; two sisters, Carol "June" Tomko and Darlene Combs; and three nephews. 

Memorials are suggested to St. Pauls Lutheran Church; the Gerald D. Bryant Scholarship and the Geddes-Bryant Family Scholarship at the Grand Island Education Foundation; Grand Island Public Library Foundation; or the donor's choice.


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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, September 14, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Friday, September 15, 2023

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

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