Thursday, April 17, 2008

Proviso Says Goodbye to Arnie F. Bryant...

Our friends at the West Suburban Journal wrote this story about Arnie F. Bryant's Funeral:

“The hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life is to say good bye to him,” said John Taylor.

Arnie Bryant’s funeral was a testament to a remarkable life. His death triggered the sort of attention usually
reserved for revered politicians. His funeral included a motorcade comprised of area police departments to
proclamations from village presidents, judges, state representatives and churches.

Frankie, as friends and family called him, Proviso Township’s most popular social and political activist, died on
Apr. 8, from a brain hemorrhage. He was 49.

“He was more than a friend he was like a brother,” said best friend Taylor. He and Bryant met 22-years ago
while working at a university. “He founded a jobs for youth project that was a real hit for the city, but he took
little credit for the programs success. He was the guy behind the scenes who did all the work.”

Others would also describe Bryant as humble and compassionate.

“He was a Lunch Bucket Joe who fought for the little guy. He made life matter. He got involved in the affairs of
others to make a difference in their lives,” said Rev. Reginald Saffo, vice president of the NAACP.

Bryant helped define the social and political landscape of Proviso. He graduated from Proviso East High
School and became involved in community activism where he remained committed throughout his life. He
served as president of the Proviso NAACP for many years, Proviso Township trustee and in 2000 he incorporated the Leyden NAACP.

At the time of his death Bryant was the president of the Bellwood Library Board and hosted a local political talk radio show “View Points from the Other Side” on WJJG with co-host and Pioneer Press news editor Kevin

Bryant’s no nonsense on-air personality was the same as it was off the air. He seemed to embody Proviso with all of its excitement, controversy and optimism.

“I first met Arnie when he was a young man in his 20s. We worked together at the public works department for the Village of Maywood. Even in his 20s you knew then he was going to be leader,” said Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough Sr. “There was something special about, Arnie.”

Bryant knew and worked with people from all walks of life. The variety of attendants at his funeral spoke to his diverse circle of friends and associates.

From day one he called me Uncle Frank, said Frank Pope of his first introduction to Bryant. “He was loving and kind, upright and just in all is ways.” “He would tell me, everyone should have an (Italian) Uncle Frank, but the truth is everyone should have a nephew like Arnie Bryant,” said Pope as he swallowed back tears.

Above all else, Bryant was best known for his commitment to family. His family was his bloodline.

“The passion he embodied was remarkable. My daddy was a great man. No one word can describe him… library, Proviso, NAACP… all pale in comparison to the great family man he was,” said Bryant’s daughter

Bryant was a devout Christian. He was baptized at Proviso Baptist Church and at the time of his death served as a member of New Horizon Missionary Baptist Church in Broadview led by Rev. Carl Hopson. Rev. Hopson described Bryant as a champion for all causes.

“My daughter Crystal went to college in Atlanta, said Hopson. She passed her exams but the college wouldn’t let her graduate. I called Arnie. He picked up the phone and called the university and Crystal walked across the stage,” eulogized Hopson followed by an enthusiastic, “Amen”.

Gladis was the love of his life. At Bryant’s funeral, Taylor spoke to Gladis’ from the pulpit, “in the twenty-two years that he and I were friends, he did not once fail to mention you in a conversation. You were the love of his life, Taylor said to Arnie’s widow Gladis.’

The couple had two children, Brittany and Frank (Alex), both of whom Bryant would gladly pass up an evening with the president to spend time with.

Brittany, a leader and activist like her father, heads the NAACP chapter in Las Vegas and will graduate from the University of Las Vegas Nevada in one month.

Frank, a football player and recent graduate from Walther Lutheran High School will head off to college this year. “Your father knew your heart, Frank… he knew your passion was in the theater,” said Taylor to the young Frank. “He would want you to follow your passion.

What do we tell future journalists, activists and educators about the legacy named Arnie Bryant?

We should tell them that there once was a guy here who lived larger than life, with a firm handshake, a bold commentary, a long stride, a penetrating eye, a giving spirit and a big-big heart.

At the funeral, Bryant’s family remembered the following words that he had once written down:

“I am the thought that slipped your mind; I am that homeless family you passed on the street. I am that feeling of regret you have for not giving to those who are less fortunate. I am the old winter coat you no longer wear, but refuse to give it to the needy. Who am I, I am your better part, I am your soul.”

Survivors include his wife, Gladis, daughter Brittany, son Frank, father Frank Anderson, a brother Raymond Bryant and sister Crystal King and a number of nieces and nephews.


Doc said...

I miss Arnie.I miss talking to him and laughing with him and arguing with him ,but most of all I miss his smile and his friendship!
God Bless Arnie and his family!
I betcha , God will make an Angel in Heaven!

Anonymous said...

That is a wonderful tribute to Frankie by Ms. Trottie. Kevin Beese also wrote a touching memorial to Frankie that appeared in Ms. Trottie's paper. Thank you for sharing his story!!!

Anonymous said...

I bet God will. Arnie's looking over all of us. That is a lovely article

Crystal Anderson King said...

Thanks to Nicole for the lovely article. Thanks to you all for your kind words. It's been over two weeks and it still doesn't seem real to me. I miss my brother so much. He was a remarkable man. His heart was so much larger than his outer appearance. He cried for us as a community, as a race, as a country. He had an uncanny ability to see past the facade of a person and look into the soul. Keep us in your prayers. Life won't be quite the same without him.