Family, friends, colleagues and scholarship recipients gathered at the Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum at Florida A&M University to honor the life and legacy of the late Willie L. Bryant, Sr., on Saturday, Jan. 12.
The exhibit showcased Bryant’s home dental office, which was a two-year project. Bryant’s family worked very closely with the museum to create the exhibit.
Bryant is survived by his wife Goldie Bryant who recalled how Nashid Madyun, the museum director, worked to ensure the exhibit was precise as possible.
“Dr. Madyun told me that they wanted to recreate his office because of the funds he contributes to the university,” Goldie Bryant said. “I took graphic paper and drew his office to scale with where everything was in the office and I took pictures to put them with the scale drawing.”
Willie L. Bryant, Sr., was a dentist who graduated from FAMU in 1961 and Howard University College of Dentistry in 1968. During his time at FAMU he became a member of the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and was a member the Student Government Association.
Following graduating from both FAMU and Howard, Bryant served has an active member at both universities’ alumni association. In fact, he served as a president for the FAMU New York Chapter Alumni Association.
According to Goldie Bryant, he went on to open up his own private practice in Ossining and Middletown, New York. Bryant later went on serve as a director for the Letchworth Village Dental staff.
In his 15-year career at Letchworth Village, Bryant said his most rewarding experience and life lasting joy was serving dental care for the developmentally disabled population.
Bryant received multiple awards for his contributions and community service. He received the Howard University Westchester/Rockland Distinguished Alumni award in 2012, the Rockland Alpha Man of the Year award in 2004 and the Rockland Buffalo Soldiers award in 2006.
He was a recipient of the FAMU Distinguished Alumni award, New York Organ Donor Network’s Volunteer Beyond Excellence award and was inducted into the Rockland Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2008.
With more than 50 people in attendance to celebrate, the room was filled with smiles as family members told stories of their late love one. One of Bryant’s three children, Amy Bryant-Bryan, recalled the lessons that Bryant taught her as a child.
“My father believed in helping other people,” Bryant- Bryan said. “My family and I are heavily involved in community service and giving scholarship to the youth, my father would be proud.”
Before the exhibit was unveiled two incoming freshmen were awarded the Willie L. Bryant, Sr., D.D.S Endowed Scholarship. The awardees were Cameron Washington, a chemistry pre-medicine major and Shayla Webster, a pre-dentistry major.
Webster was extremely happy to be a scholarship recipient and hoped the legacy of Bryant would continue to live on.
“I am honored and this was unexpected, I just wanted to thank my parents for instilling hard work, dedication and education,” Webster said. “This is my dream school, my parents graduated from here [and] I’m excited to continue the legacy.”
She explained that she plans to go to dental school like Bryant, and start her own practice one day.
The Meek-Eaton Black Archives is free to the public on Monday-Friday, 10 a.m-5 p.m. and on Saturday, 12 p.m.- 4 p.m., for more information please contact at (850) 599-3020 or visit www.meek-eaton-blackarchives-museum.business.site/.