Retired Choteau teacher, homemaker and ranch wife Sylvia Ann (Newman) Bryan, 82, died Oct. 3, 2021, after a long battle with congestive heart failure at her home on the family ranch north of Choteau with her family at her side.
The funeral will be held at the Choteau Baptist Church on Oct. 16 at 11 a.m. followed by a short reception and then the family will have a private burial at the Beck Community Cemetery in Power.
Sylvia was born to Everette and Ella Mae Newman on Aug. 16, 1939, in New Orleans, Louisiana. In her early years, she was an active member in Rainbow girls, an organization that teaches leadership training through community service. After graduating from Terrebonne High School in 1957, she went on to study early education receiving her bachelor's degree at Louisiana College in 1961. She then completed her master's degree in library science at Western State College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1976.
In 1958, during her time at Louisiana College, she met Ottis Newton Bryan, a student at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He became her best friend, and they were married on Aug. 21, 1959. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary this past August 2021.
They raised four children, Ottis N. Bryan, Vance K. Bryan, Jeffery K. Bryan, who died as an infant, and Sondra Lynn Holmes. One of her greatest joys and accomplishments was being a mother and grandmother.
Sylvia began her teaching career in 1961 as a ninth-grade English, speech and drama teacher. In the spring of 1965, the family moved to Mt. Clemmons, Michigan, where she continued teaching second grade.
While in Mt. Clemmons, she and Ottis worked tirelessly to develop and provide mission work to the members of Moravian Drive Baptist Church. For Sylvia and Ottis, the ministry was a true team effort, while Ottis led the services, Sylvia could be found leading Sunday school classes and writing lesson plans for the Southern Baptist Convention.
In 1968 the Lord called Sylvia and Ottis to serve in Bay City, Michigan. During this time, Sylvia continued teaching sixth grade at Kolb Middle School. The family's next move was to Portage, Michigan, in the fall of 1968 as she and Ottis oversaw of the ministry at Portage Baptist Church. In 1977, the family moved to Choteau to help run Sylvia's father's ranch but soon were called back to Michigan to Bethel Baptist Church where she was the director of the church's daycare.
In 1987 the Bryan family embarked on a new adventure when they moved back to Choteau to run and eventually own Sylvia's father's ranch. In 1988 when Ottis began pastoring full time at the Choteau Baptist Church, she served her church and community for 22 years. During this time, she wore many hats: teacher, Sunday school teacher, missionary, pastor's and rancher's wife and she owned and operated a local Choteau business, Montana Specialties Gift Store, for five years.
Sylvia had many hobbies in life including gardening, canning and genealogy but her big passions were scrapbooking and her Christmas village. She scrapbooked for friends and family and for almost any occasion. Her Christmas village grew with pride each year where she would display each new treasure.
Sylvia is preceded in death by her sister, Linda L. Prather; and her son, Jeffery Kyle Bryan.
She is survived by her husband of Choteau; her children, Ottis N. Bryan of Dallas, Texas, Van K. Bryan of Bozeman and Sondra L. Holmes of Choteau; her grandchildren, Brittney K. Reed, North E. Bryan, Shayne V. Bryan, Haley E. Wheeler and Anna R. Bryan; and six great-grandchildren.
Memorials are suggested to the Choteau Baptist Church for the Montana Wilderness School of the Bible Scholarship Fund(MW Scholarship).