Gloria Bryan

Gloria Ann Leonard Bryan

Thursday, July 30th, 1936 - Saturday, November 14th, 2020
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Gloria Ann Leonard Bryan, first child of Claude Thomas Leonard and Artie Lou (Wise) Leonard passed away peacefully on Saturday, November 14, 2020 in Belle Isle, Florida. Gloria was born on July 30, 1936 in Kinston, AL and moved to Jay, FL with her family in 1946, where they settled in the Pine Level community.
Gloria Ann, known as “Ann” was the oldest of the seven Leonard children, with beloved brothers and sisters Jerry, Jane, Fred, Jimmy, Joe and Nancy.

Ann begged her father to allow her to go away to college and after much debate, she departed for the University of Florida in Gainesville in the fall of 1953, becoming the first person in the family to attend college. Ann studied Journalism and dreamed of a career in writing for newspapers. That dream was cut short two year later when Claude Leonard died unexpectedly and Ann gave up her college plans to come home and help Artie Lou raise her siblings.

While back in Jay, Ann married and in 1958 gave birth to daughter, Jennifer Ann Britt. In 1960 daughter Daphne Sellers Britt came along and finally in 1962, daughter Shella Leigh Britt made her appearance. In 1968 Ann divorced and in 1970 married William H. (Bill) Bryan. Bill adored his “Miss Ann” and they were married for 47 years until Bill passed in 2017. Ann loved Bill’s daughters Kay and Tricia and their families as if they were her own.

Ann decided to continue her education in 1967, taking a pre-dawn bus to the University of West Florida to attend classes for her Bachelor of Arts in English, which she completed in 1969. Ann began her teaching career at Milton High School, where she taught English for three years. In 1971, she set out to work towards a master’s degree in English at UWF, which she received in 1972, going on to teach English the next nine years at Allentown High School. Ann loved to teach and instilled the love of reading and writing to all the young students that she taught. Ann could always be found with her nose stuck in a book or newspaper…reading was her passion and especially English Literature.
Always eager for higher education herself, Ann earned an Education Specialist degree in Elementary and Secondary Administration and Supervision from Florida State University. She then worked towards a PhD, completing the course work for a degree in Post-Secondary Administration and Supervision from FSU in 1979. In 1981, she was named Language Arts and Reading Coordinator for Santa Rosa County Schools, where she served until her retirement in 1997.

One of the highlights of Ann’s post retirement life was a trip that she and Bill took to London, England in April 1998. They rented a flat in London and spent three months exploring London and taking trains to other parts of England, especially to see where Bill had served in WWII. Ann loved Shakespeare and was thrilled to go to the Globe Theatre to see his plays enacted. Ann kept a detailed journal of their trip and adventures every day, so that the memory would not fade over time. Those journals were on her bedside table even at the last moments of her life.
Ann was an active and energetic member of the American Association of University Women, serving two-year terms as Vice President, then as President and then as Past President/Advisor for the Pensacola chapter. She cherished her colleagues and fellow educators in the school system, making memories and lifelong friends.

Ann provided a kind, loving, yet strict environment while raising her three daughters. It only took that “raised eyebrow” or a quick pinch in church to squelch any nonsense. Reading was encouraged and expected of the girls from a young age and many trips to libraries and the Book Mobile ensured a never-ending supply of books.

Her grandchildren knew Ann as “Meemaw”. She loved them all dearly and spoiled each as much as she could get away with. A visit from Meemaw or trip to see Meemaw was a much-anticipated event and even though they were scattered from Mississippi to Central Florida, Ann and Bill drove to visit their grandchildren regularly, attending births, birthday parties, school events, Grandparents Days, plays, recitals, sports events and graduations.

After Bill’s death in 2017, Ann moved to the Orlando area to be closer to her daughters. She took interest in many new activities, including painting, crafting, singing, chair aerobics, and participating in many group activities. She was quite the sight on St. Patrick’s Day when she allowed her beautiful silver hair to be highlighted green!

Gloria Ann Leonard Bryan joined a joyous host of immediate family in Heaven who have preceded her in death. Father Claude Leonard, Mother Artie Lou Leonard, brother Jerry Leonard, sister Jane Leonard McCloskey, daughter Daphne Britt Dennison and husband William H. (Bill) Bryan.
Ann is survived by her daughters, Jennifer Kennedy (Ray), Belle Isle FL, Shella Britt, Belle Isle FL, grandchildren Courtney Nichols, Belle Isle FL, Aaron Stoller, Orlando FL, Lake Kennedy, Belle Isle FL, Dallas Dennison (Leah), Tallahassee FL and Shelby Dennison Nicholas (Raymond), Daphne, AL, brothers Fred Leonard (Madelyn), Grand Bay AL, Jim Leonard (Sandra), Mobile AL, Joe Leonard, Grand Bay AL and sister Nancy Leonard Johnson, Keithville LA, as well as many beloved nieces, nephews, Wise and Leonard cousins.
Ann had requested that her ashes be spread over a peanut field in Jay, just as Bill’s were, symbolizing their love of farmland and their love for the area. A private memorial will be held in the Spring.
If you would like to honor Gloria Ann’s memory or her legacy in education, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, consider donating to one of the following organizations that promote literacy and reading…or lovingly care for the elderly at the end of life.

Storybook Treasures
42437 Holly Knoll Court
Ashburn, VA 20148
Non-Profit Tax ID 45-5015682
Note: Santa Rosa County Schools

Books for Babies
c/o Jenese Truelson
6436 Pine Blossom Road
Milton, FL 32570

Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care
5655 S. Orange Avenue
Edgewood, FL 32809

Waters & Hibbert Funeral Home LLC is overseeing the arrangements.
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