John Shepard Bryan
5 October , 1925 – 10 June , 2019
The Eternal Optimist
John Shepard Bryan, a longtime resident of Brentwood and Santa Monica, California, passed away peacefully on June 10, 2019 with his family by his side. He was 93. Shep was born October 5, 1925 to Dorothy Wise and Pendleton Taylor Bryan, Jr. in St. Louis, Missouri. Shep was the second oldest of six children. Shep attended Country Day School and later went on to Princeton University after serving honorably in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Shep enlisted on September 20, 1943, just before his eighteen birthday. He served on the U.S.S. Lexington aircraft carrier that was instrumental in the success of the American fleet at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle of World War II. On November 5, 1944 in the vicinity of the Luzon Islands, the U.S.S. Lexington was hit by bomb and kamikaze attack. Shep received a commendation for distinguishing himself during that attack by saving and providing care to those in the damaged area. One of Shep’s fondest memories of the war was the opportunity to visit his brother Pendleton Taylor Bryan III while both were in the same port. After the war, Shep loved his years at Princeton and being part of the Cottage Club. After graduation, he went to work and entered an executive training program at Anheuser Busch in St. Louis. While in the program, he was sent to Los Angeles, where he found “paradise”. He moved to Los Angeles, where he spent the majority of his remaining life. He met and married Judy Howe of La Jolla, CA., and they had three children: Julie, Shep Jr., and Christy. They lived first in Northridge and eventually moved to Brentwood, where Shep just loved his life. Shep played tennis at the Riviera Tennis Club, where in later years he was a part of the “Tuesday and Wednesday Boys Club”, a fun-loving group of senior men who played tennis and enjoyed beer/appetizers on the terrace at the “Riv”. Shep’s love of the ocean is memorable - During summers his parents came for the summer, along with a number of his siblings and nieces and nephews. All remember “Uncle Shep’s” classic body surfing style - catch the wave and as one comes close to shore, raise the foot in the air to signal finishing the wave and then head up with a smile from ear to ear. He just loved days at the beach. After suffering a divorce, it would be years later that he would meet his soulmate Judy Kircher Coulter at a party. Ever the outgoing individual, Shep went right up to Judy and introduced himself to Judy as “John Shepard Bryan” and Judy, just as outgoing, introduced herself as “Judith Kircher Coulter”. It was love at first sight. They had so many wonderful adventures together, both willing at the drop of hat to take off up the coast for lunch on a beautiful sunny day. Judy had three children Wendy, Jami, and Chris, who Shep adored and loved. For Shep, who was such a positive, happy soul, and who had also experienced tremendous loss, those 14 years with Judy were some of his most precious, appreciated, and joyous years.
Shep spent his last years in Portland, Oregon where his daughter Julie cared for him. While his health declined, he never wavered in his joy in the simplest things in life, which included sitting in the sunshine looking at the blue sky. As a number of his close friends and family noted, “Shep was the most positive person I have ever met in my life”. Shep was one of a kind. He will be greatly missed by his three children and their spouses, his brother James Rodney Bryan, Judy’s three children, his eleven grandchildren among Judy’s and his family, the extended Bryan family, and so many friends.
Shep’s funeral service will be held at St. Monica Church in Santa Monica on June 28 at 10 a.m. with a reception to follow. Donations in Shep’s honor can be made to Gary Sinise Foundation at garysinisefoundation.org.
- Gary Sinise Foundation
- Funeral Mass Friday, 28 June , 2019
John Shepard Bryan
Eleanor and Gerhard Runken
25 June 2019
We remember the fun times with Shep when he came to our house.
Always smiling. We shall miss you Shep. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family
Eleanor and Gerhard