Honorable veteran, dedicated husband, loving father, and shepherd of all of God’s creatures, Andrew Wallace Bryce, of Mimbres, New Mexico, previously of Marlboro, Vermont, died on September 8, 2018. He was born in Bayonne, NJ on August 30, 1930, the son of Scottish parents who came to America in June of 1923, via Canada.
A child of the Great Depression, he came of age during WWII, quitting High School at sixteen and cajoling his reluctant mother into “fixing” his enlistment papers so he could “join up” in the US Army. That was in December of 1945, following an earlier fiasco in joining the US Navy. It was a time when the country was still celebrating the victories over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and the US Military had relaxed its rigorous combat training and reduced the enlistment time of volunteers to 18 months.
Bryce thrived in this more relaxed military atmosphere, crisscrossing America from camp to camp in sleek, high-speed trains, from Ft. Hancock, NJ to Ft. Knox, KY; from Ft. Knox to Camp Hood, TX; from Camp Hood to West Point, NY; from West Point to camp Stoneman, CA from Camp Stoneman to Ft. Pickett, WA: and thence across the Pacific on a Liberty Ship to Yokahama and Occupied Japan, all in a year and a half. He later used these experiences in his first two novels, GI Jr: Coming of age in the Army – The Road to Japan, and GI Jr: The Homefront, the two volumes spanning the years 1945 to 1948.
But the real bonus following his service in the Army was the GI Bill, providing him with four years of college and an undergraduate degree in history, English, and biology. He followed this with graduate and post-graduate work and a working career of 20 years in teaching at the secondary and collegiate level.
At age 45, he retired with his second wife, Julia Banks Bryce and their two children, Stanley and Jennifer, to the family farm in Marlboro, Vermont, where he pursued an active life in silviculture, natural history, birdwatching, winter sports, and his love of reading and writing.
While in Marlboro, Bryce served as the local Correspondent for the Brattleboro Reformer, under editor Norm Runnion, reporting the town’s news as well as doing feature stories and photography for the paper. One of his nature photos made it to the front page of several New England newspapers: three Canada Geese trying unsuccessfully to navigate with dignity on the slick new ice of a local pond.
Always active politically, Bryce anticipated in the unsuccessful attempt to prevent the licensing of the Seabrook, NH, nuclear reactor, as well as an equally unsuccessful attempt to stop the building of the C&S facility in Brattleboro. In Marlboro, however he was particularly pleased with his successful efforts to get Health Insurance for the town’s Roadcrew, as well as being instrumental in empowering the Volunteer Firemen in their struggle for a say in how they were led. His chief disappointment was in not being able to get “Trail Status” for the Halladay Brook Road, the only public walkway between Marlboro and West Brattleboro.
While residing in the winter home in northern Florida during the mid-1990s, he actively sought to explore the radically different culture of the “New South,” and in the process gathered material for his later novels and short stories. In Praying for Sinkmeat, his most ambitious novel of this period, he used his working knowledge of the Macrobiotic Diet to frame a story of a northern activist who goes into the deep South in search of his won racial roots and, in the process, free the locals from their dependency on the Seven-Eleven “convenience stores,” teaching them how to “manufacture” their own hamburger meat. The explosive reaction by the white-owned store operators makes for a tense, sometimes deadly confrontation between the two social cultures, ending in a grudging understanding and respect.
A firm believer in the Socratic dictum, “an unexamined life is not worth living,” Bryce did his best to pursue not only an active literary life, but an active outdoor life as well. Besides building and disposing of several personal libraries, his writings include a how-to booklet on wood-splitting and curing (“Gentleman’s Guide to Falling, Bucking, Splitting, and Drying Firewood”), and a magazine article on the use and dangers of the chainsaw for the weekend “Do-It-Yourselfer.”
During his lifetime, Bryce married three times. Privately, he referred to them as his undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate martial experiences. His first, Mary Anaya Bryce was a graduate of Fordham University whom he wed during his sophomore year in college. His second, Julia Banks Bryce, was a graduate of the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts and Bennington College and a well-known watercolorist and founding member of the Vermont Watercolor Society. His present wife, Patricia de Naranjo Bryce, a graduate of the University of New Mexico and Webster College of St. Louis, served as the Grants and Loan Manage for the Town of Brattleboro, Vermont, and Finance Director for the City of Lordsburg, New Mexico before her retirement.
Bryce earned an AB with Honors from the Albany Campus of the State University of New York, an MA with Honors from Colgate University, and completed his ABD at New York University, NYC. He was a member of the History Honorary Society, Pi Gamma Mu; a past member of the Marlboro Meetinghouse Church; and a member of the United Church of Christ, in Putney. He was also a member in good standing of the American Legion, Post Five, in Brattleboro, VT, and Post Eighteen in Silver City, NM.
His favorite aphorism and one he found helped explain so many of life’s little disasters was from an interview of an ex-slave following the Civil War: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you do know for dang sure that just ain’t so!”
His favorite novelists were T. Mann and F. Dostoyevsky; his favorite poets were Frost, Burns, and Kiping; his favorite composers were Mozart, Verdi, and Rossini (“When I hear Rossini, I want to smile; when I hear Beethoven, I want to invade Czechoslovakia.” Anon.); and his favorite American historian was Bernard deVoto. His favorite songbird: The Winter Wren.
Besides his wife, Patricia, he leaves a son, Stanley Day Bryce of Wilmington, VT; his daughter, Jennifer Margaret White Bryce, of San Francisco, CA; a sister, Margaret Bryce Blencowe (deceased), of Vacaville, CA; two grandsons, Mark and Ian Bryce; nieces, Wendy Gallup of Zebulon, NC, and Jean Bookless Sobalvarro, of Setauket, NY; and in-laws Alfred and Loretta Banks, of Milton Mills, NH.
He also leaves behind the memory of five of his closest friends: Jeff Bookless, of Arlington Cemetery; Mike Recchia and Arnie White of Marlboro, George Dalton, of Northwestern University; and (still breathing) Tom “Woody” Woodring, of Mashpee, Cape Cod, MA. A Memorial Service will be celebrated on Monday, September 17 at 12 noon at Terrazas Funeral Chapels with Pastor Sharon McGrath officiating. Inurnment will follow with full military honors at Fort Bayard National Cemetery.
Cremation will take place at Terrazas Crematory. Arrangements are with Terrazas Funeral Chapels and Crematory “Trusted care for the ones you love” ~ 575-537-0777. To send condolences, visit www.terrazasfuneralchapel.com.