Cover photo for Thomas L. Bryant's Obituary
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1943 Thomas 2020

Thomas L. Bryant

June 15, 1943 — March 4, 2020

Thomas Lee Bryant, 76, of Bainbridge Island, Washington passed away peacefully on March 4, 2020. Born on June 15, 1943, Tom grew up in a Navy family living in many places from Virginia to Hawaii, but he called home Santa Barbara, California where his parents eventually settled.

A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, with both a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science, Tom worked as a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. State Department in Argentina, and before that as a jazz announcer and news director in radio. Outside of his family, his real love in life was cars. In 1972 he wrote to Road and Track magazine expressing an interest in cars and publishing. That letter eventually resulted in a dream job that would last for 36 years until he retired in June 2008. Those years were filled with opportunities that most people could only dream of. He was a judge at car shows in California, Florida, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, and as far away as Kuwait. He was proud to be a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for more than 25 years. He was also the recipient of two significant awards: Road & Travel Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, and the Motor Press Guild/Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Tom had the opportunity to test drive cars all over the globe, attend auto races and become friends with his automotive heroes, like Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, and Carroll Shelby, to name only a few.

But Tom was more than the person who loved cars, a successful journalistic professional, and a leader in his field. The man with piercing blue eyes that mirrored the goodness of his soul was also a compassionate manager, leader of people and a mentor to many young people he hired. Tom took to his Editor’s chair with a natural sense of ease and command, and those who worked for him have consistently described him as a person who exhibited kindness, honor, loyalty, dignity, and wit. Virtually everyone who worked at Road and Track during those years has a similar story. If you had a medical or family problem, he gave you time and support to take care of it. No questions asked. Tom was that rarest of beings, a realist with a heart. Tom loved his work, he loved his staff, and he loved cars, but perhaps his most important role was as a caring and attentive husband to his wife Patty of 40 years.

When Patty had the opportunity to accompany him on his trips, he was always seen with an arm around her shoulders or holding her hand. Their closeness wherever they went was evident to all. And when he traveled, he never missed an opportunity to send her a note telling her how much she was missed. They were inseparable. He was also exceptionally close to Patty’s brothers Bob and Doug, and her sister Judy and their families. Those of us on Bainbridge Island, where he settled upon retirement, were fortunate to share in his graciousness and generosity and become part of his extended family.

Tom is preceded in death by his parents, Stanley E. Bryant and Bernice Burgess Bryant. He is survived by his brothers Donald R. Bryant (Carol) and Stanley E Bryant Jr. (Sharon), his wife, Patty (Patricia Laher) and his Golden Retriever, Maisie. Tom is remembered by his family and friends as a gentleman with a calm, dignified demeanor, who loved his wife, his dogs, his family, his friends, cars, cooking, road trips, golf, football, music, the ocean, the forest, sunsets and everything about his life. Tom lived his life to its fullest and was famous for saying: “Every Mile A Memory…” A celebration of his life will be held in early summer.

Arrangements are entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island, WA.

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