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John V. Bryar

Monterey, Calif. — John V. Bryar, 91, of West Lebanon, N.H. passed away at the home of his daughter, Tammie Bryar Kirmil in Monterey on Monday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Mr. Bryar was the son of John S. and Catherine Doyle Bryar on West Lebanon’s South Main Street. He lived there and on Crawford Street in West Lebanon for most of his life. He was educated in the public school system in West Lebanon graduating from West Lebanon High School in 1941. There he played basketball, baseball, quarterbacked the school’s six man football team, and was a noted ski jumper.

He served on the U.S.S. Columbia during World War II and saw action in Guadalcanal, the Battle of Empress Bay, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the South Pacific and was wounded in action three times. Following the war he remained active in Veterans Affairs and was a member of the VFW.

Mr. Bryar worked at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s Windsor, Vt. plant in marketing and product design, but his true vocation was public service. For over 50 years he served the community in as a volunteer and elected official. At various times he served as a member of the Lebanon City Council, the Planning Board, and the Lebanon Airport Authority. He was involved in regional planning efforts when the Interstate Highway system came to the Upper Valley.

Mr. Bryar was a lifetime member of the West Lebanon Congregational Church. Over the years he and his wife, Gloria Santaw Bryar, served as Deacon, Trustee and leader of the Church’s Junior Fellowship Program and organized outdoor dances for young people on West Lebanon’s Main Street in the summer. He was an early member of the West Lebanon Civic Association and led the project that acquired and constructed the city’s Civic Memorial Field adjacent to the Seminary Hill School. He helped preserve and renovate West Lebanon’s original public library in the 1960’s and became deeply involved in the successful effort to build West Lebanon’s new Kilton Library.

More than any other activity, Mr. Bryar enjoyed and promoted youth sports and recreation. He served on Lebanon’s Recreation Commission for 50 years. He also coached little league baseball, taught elementary school students how to ski at Storrs Hill and Whaleback Mountain, and refereed basketball and baseball games. He insisted that sports programs be available to everyone. More than once he assembled and coached winning little league baseball teams composed entirely of young people cut by other teams. One of his proudest moments was the Sports Illustrated’s designation of Lebanon, N.H. as its Sports City in 2001.

Over the years Mr. Bryar said that as a child the kindness and care of the community had made such a major difference in his life he felt obligated to return the favor. He was recognized for his public service by Goodyear, the VFW, the state of New Hampshire, the West Lebanon Alumni Association and many others. He was named Lebanon’s Volunteer of the Year in 1998. The baseball field at Civic Memorial Field was named John Bryar Baseball Park in 2010.

Mr. Bryar was an active Democrat all his life. He and Mrs. Bryar welcomed to his house presidential aspirants ranging from Eugene McCarthy to George McGovern to his house. He was a enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton and was thrilled when she recognized him at a campaign event in 2008.

In the last few years Mr. Bryar lived at the home of his daughter, Tammie Bryar Kirmil, of Monterey. Mr. Bryar is survived by Mrs. Kirmil, John V. “Jack” Bryar of Grafton, Vt.; grandchildren, Samuel Bryar, Justine and Alexandra Bryar, Jason and Corinne Kirmil; and many nieces and nephews with whom he was very close.

A memorial service and remembrance is planned for April. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Kilton Library or the City of Lebanon Parks and Recreation Department.