Ronald J. Bryan

WESTERLO — Ronald J. Bryan, a quiet man who was always there to serve his community, died on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, after a brief illness He was 77.

A quiet and generous man, Mr. Bryan was “always willing to help,” and volunteered everywhere, said his daughter, Stephanie Tapia.

Mr. Bryan was born in Rensselaerville on July 8, 1942, to the late Harry Bryan and Bessie (née) Decker Bryan, the second eldest of four siblings. He grew up on a farm in Rensselaerville where he worked in the fields, said his daughter.

Around the time he was 18 or 19, he began working at John Boyd Thacher State Park. His daughter believes he may have been a park ranger at first, but he eventually became the park’s maintenance man, and worked there for 35 years. It was a job he enjoyed, said Ms. Tapia.

“He was well-known at the park,” she said. “He worked hard there.”

After retiring from working at Thacher Park, Mr. Bryan became the part-time handyman at the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, where he planted flowers and mowed the lawn in the spring and summer, and plowed and shoveled snow in the winter. He built a trellis that can now be seen in many wedding photos taken there; he also built a beautiful swing hanging from one of the trees, said his daughter.

Mr. Bryan married Marie O. (née Fancher) Bryan in 1964. They were married for over half a century, the marriage ending only with Mrs. Bryan’s death in 2016. The Bryans moved to Westerlo around 1968 and lived there for the rest of their lives, said their daughter.

Mr. Bryan became well-known in the community, said Ms. Tapia. He was known for making cream puffs for suppers at the Westerlo Reformed Church, and was “the guy flinging burgers or making the salad,” at town functions, she said.

Mr. Bryan was never one to bring much attention to himself, explained Ms. Tapia, but would quietly do something out of his own generosity.

Besides being a member of the Westerlo Reformed Church, he was also a part of the Westerlo Historical Society, Rensselaerville Rod & Gun Club, Helderberg Senior Citizens, Rensselaerville Seniors, the former Helderberg Hilltoppers Camping Club, and several other groups and organizations in the Hilltowns.

He was an avid fisherman and hunter, and enjoyed hunting in Westerlo and Rensselaerville. He also bowled weekly with the Happy Times Mixed Bowling League at Del Lanes in Delmar.

A skilled carpenter, Mr. Bryan made a king-sized bed for his granddaughter’s 16th birthday weeks before his death.

“He actually did it in his living room,” explained Ms. Tapia, because there was not enough room to make the bed elsewhere.

Mr. Bryan loved his grandchildren, said Ms. Tapia. He used to bring them to West Canada Creek near Utica where they would camp and go tubing for days, she said.

“He was a great father, great grandfather, and a devoted husband,” she said.


Mr. Bryan is survived by his daughter, Stephanie Tapia, and her husband, Edgar Tapia; his grandchildren, Jack and Emma Tapia; his siblings, Lawrence Bryan and his wife, Marion Bryan; William Bryan and his wife, Shirley Bryan; and Eldeen Gifford and her husband, James Gifford; his brother-in-law, Dennis Fancher and his wife, Susan Fancher; several nieces and nephews; and many friends.

His wife, Marie O. (née Fancher) Bryan, died before him, as did his brother, Paul “Tater” Bryan.

Calling hours will be Thursday, Aug. 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. at A.J. Cunningham Funeral Home, 4898 Route 81, Greenville. The funeral will be at 3 p.m. at the funeral home, followed by a burial at the Westerlo Rural Cemetery.

Mourners may leave condolences online at

Memorial contributions may be made to the Westerlo Reformed Church, Post Office Box 70, Westerlo, NY 12193, or to Community Hospice at St. Peter’s, 310 South Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208.

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