John William Bryan of Dothan, Alabama died peacefully in his home on March 20. He was born in Elba, Alabama on May 1, 1935 to Fred D. and Myrtle Thomas Bryan. He grew up in Elba and Dothan, Alabama, and graduated from Dothan High School in 1953. He married Glenda Smith in 1956. The Bryans have three grown children and three children in-law: Michael and Wendy Bryan; Keith and Cindy Bryan; and Melinda and Johnny Ingram. Their five grandchildren are Christopher and Amanda Bryan; Ruby Bryan; and Joseph and William Ingram.
He felt God's call to the ministry at a very young age, and was officially licensed to preach in 1950, at only 15 years of age. He was appointed to his first pastorate the same week he graduated from high school. He then pastored churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the Methodist and the United Methodist Church for 42 years, retiring in 1995. He served for many of these years in the Dothan and Pensacola areas. Early in his ministry, Rev. Bryan made two preaching trips to Mexico and one to the former Czechoslovakia.
Rev. Bryan frequently served on conference and district boards and committees, notably as chairman of the Conference Board of Evangelism for four years and serving on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for sixteen years. Since retiring, Rev. Bryan has served on the Dothan District Board of Ministry and has frequently preached in revivals and other special services.
In 1984 during the Bicentennial Celebration of Methodism in America, Rev. Bryan was one of nine ministers commissioned as "Circuit Riders." During the bicentennial year, they told the story of the beginning of Methodism in America at Conference and District events and in local churches. He has continued this Circuit Riding ministry in the years since, wearing clothing much like that of his forbears and often arriving on horseback or riding in a horse-drawn buggy.
Rev. Bryan was preceded in death by his grandparents, including the late John and Connie Thomas of Elba; his parents the late Fred and Myrtle Bryan; by numerous aunts, uncles, and other relatives; and by a sister (Mary Alice) who died in infancy. He is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren; his aunts Ollie Bell Farris and Mavis Davis; by numerous cousins; and by his brother in-law and sister in-law Dr. Ronald C. and Kaye Smith; his nephew Mark (and wife Angie) Smith and his niece Rhonda (and husband John) Patten; and his great nieces Chelsey and Bailee Smith and Anna Claire and Abigail Patten.
Officiating Rev. Bryan's service will be Dr. Hays McKay, Jr., Rev. Kyle Gatlin, Dr. Mike Hoppe, and Rev. Dan Morris. Pallbearers will be Rev. Larry Anderson, Rev. Danny Arnold, Rev. Brian Cowley, Rev. Phil Craddock, Rev. Carl Dickerson, Rev. Grant Parker, Rev. Ted Spencer, Rev. Larry Teasley, and Rev. Randy Woodham. Honorary pallbearers will be the pastors and pastors' spouses of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Byrd Funeral Home in Dothan. Visitation will be on Sunday March 25 from 5 until 7 p.m. at Byrd Funeral Home on West Main Street (Highway 84) in Dothan. Rev. Bryan's funeral service will be held at Covenant United Methodist Church in Dothan on Monday March 26 at 11 a.m. and burial will take place afterward at Memory Hill Cemetery in Dothan. Memorial donations may be made to the Rev. John W. Bryan Memorial Fund at Covenant United Methodist Church in Dothan.