Dorothy Ann Bryant, 95, of Olalla, Washington, passed away peacefully at her home on January 10, 2021, surrounded by her family. She was born in Yakima, Washington, on September 18, 1925, to Henry and Lola Fear. She was loved, admired, and blessed, and she will be missed every day by the legacy of family and friends she left behind.
Dorothy grew up in Fife and graduated from Fife High School a semester early during the war years in January 1943. That summer, Dorothy met Elza Bryant while he worked at the produce store her family operated in Fife. They married on March 31, 1944, while Elza was home on leave from the US Army before leaving to serve in France during WWII. They were married in her sister’s living room surrounded by daffodils, her favorite flower. Together they raised five children on their dairy in Artondale and on the farm in Olalla. She became widowed in 1999 after 55 years of marriage. Dorothy was primarily a farmer’s wife and stay-at-home Mom most of her life. She could make homemade cheese and butter, bake yummy cherry and lemon meringue pies, could create a meal out of very little in the cupboard and yet feed anyone who came by for dinner. Both Dorothy and Elza were well known for helping others, even when struggling to count pennies themselves. She cooked, sewed, knitted, and created hundreds of stuffed toys for charity. Dorothy was a Den Mother for the Boy Scouts of America, a 4-H Leader, and a Campfire Girls leader. She won the PTA’s coveted Acorn Award for her service to Olalla Elementary School. Later in life, she was involved in the local Council for the Blind.
Dorothy was a 7th Degree member of Gig Harbor Grange, serving in many leadership roles for more than 71 years. She was given the Washington State Grange Leadership Award in 2017 (along with Elza, posthumously). She and Elza served together primarily behind the scenes at most Washington State Grange Conventions throughout the state. Dorothy also served as District Director of Women’s Activities, and District Director of the Junior Grange Department. As a leader of the Junior Grange, Dorothy was honored at State Convention with an award for her 50 years of service to the Junior Department. For many years she was a judge for the Grange’s sewing, baking and craft contests. She worked as the camp cook and camp nurse for Junior Grange Camp for many summers as well. Dorothy and Elza were also “Grangers of the Month”, and competed for State Grange Young Couple of the Year.
At her request, Dorothy was buried in a beautiful red dress made by her husband for her in 1958 “just to prove to her he could do it”. Elza won 2nd place for the dress in a sewing contest for the Grange that year.
Dorothy and Elza designed and built the popular agriculture displays at the Puyallup Fair for Gig Harbor Grange, alongside other Grange members. They gathered, furnished and installed fruits and vegetables for the displays every year for over 40 years, helping Gig Harbor Grange win many ribbons and prizes.
Over the years, Dorothy was interviewed several times by The Peninsula Gateway, the Grange News, and the News Tribune as they wrote stories about her homemade cheese-making processes; about the thousands of stuffed clowns, rabbits and toys made by her and her friends for local children’s hospitals; and for her knitting prowess. She also did cheese-making demonstrations every day during the Mason County Fair.
Dorothy was a charter member of Olalla Bible Church and a lifelong member there. She sang solos for Sunday morning services for many years, and continued to sing in the choir and on the worship team on Sunday mornings up until her death. She loved attending Bible Studies and meeting with her friends and church family. She enjoyed inviting her daughter, granddaughters and daughters-in-law to join her at the church’s annual Mother-Daughter Tea each spring. For many years, Dorothy was responsible for decorating the church for Sunday services. She was a Sunday School teacher and VBS leader and served the Lord in many other ways through Olalla Bible Church.
She was probably best known for her love and faithfulness to the Lord, to her husband, her family, her church, and for her service to the Grange and the local community. As she aged, she became legally blind because of macular degeneration around 1995, and was also very hard of hearing. The way she adapted to these critical changes in her life continued to amaze everyone around her, and she continued to serve others despite these disabilities. Just recently, she shared this: “When you lose your sight, you lose your connection with things, but when you lose your hearing, you often lose your connection with people.” And she loved people. Things were never important to her, but though a struggle to hear their voices, she treasured visiting with family and friends.
Dorothy was the matriarch of the Bryant family and loved our Christmas Eve get-togethers with the whole Bryant clan. As the family outgrew the farm to hold this celebration at home, it moved to the Grange Hall or to the Olalla Bible Church’s fellowship hall to fit everyone in. The Bryant clan took up several whole pews at each Christmas Eve Service at OBC. This year, because of COVID, and one other year because of a snowstorm, were the only years we have missed getting the whole family together on Christmas Eve in over 54 years.
Some of her favorite past times were listening to audio books, knitting and collecting cow memorabilia. Even after she lost her sight, Dorothy spent time throughout the year knitting dish cloths so that she could give one to each and every member of the Bryant family on Christmas Eve every single year. She has a collection of over 2,000 cow figurines, creamers, cookie jars, etc. She was always involved in doing something, making something, or taking care of someone. Rare is the person who could fill her shoes and she will be missed.
Dorothy is survived by her five children. Her sons: Thomas (& Beverley) of Tacoma; James of Olalla; David (& Mary) of Spanaway; William of Renton; and her daughter, Elizabeth Richmond of Tacoma. She leaves a legacy of 13 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren to carry on her service to others.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dorothy Ann Bryant, please visit our floral store.