Martha Gentry Bryant (Science)

Martha Gentry Bryant (Science)

January 3, 1946-June 10, 2018

Martha Gentry Bryant was born January 3, 1946, in Hampton, Va. She lost her battle with Pick’s Disease June 10, 2018, at her home in Okmulgee.

Martha was a lifelong learner and science educator. She graduated from Ferguson High in Newport News, Va. in 1964. She was an outstanding student, class officer, and a teen-editor for the city paper.

Martha attended Wake Forest University majoring in biology. She met her future husband Dr. William T. Bryant her freshman year. They married September 2, 1967, in her aunt and uncle’s backyard. Martha graduated in the spring of 1968 and started her first teaching job at McLain High School in North Tulsa, while Bill was in school. Her second school was back at Ferguson, while Bill was in the Air Force. In 1971, Martha moved with Bill, and her new daughter Lynn (1970) to Turkey. She explored archeological sites and taught English as a foreign language.

After the Air Force, Martha taught in Pawnee from 1974 to 1976, and lived in Stillwater, while Bill was in school. Katie was born March of 1975. After a year in Arizona, the family, sort of accidentally landed in Okmulgee, and stayed.

Martha started teaching at Okmulgee High in 1977 and continued until her retirement in 2000. She taught over 3,000 students in biology and chemistry, quickly gaining a reputation for being a tough but excellent educator. Martha took pride in motivating her students to pursue the study of science and medicine. She started the National Honor Society, received a MS in Genetics, was a published author in a scientific journal, and was Adjunct Faculty at Tulsa Community College. She was a two-term president of the State Science Teachers Association, and helped write items for the State Science Test. She was on the Board of Directors for the National Science Teachers Association. One of Martha’s greatest satisfactions was seeing the personal and professional success of her children. She taught both girls in biology and chemistry, and inspired both to be educated professionals in the medical field. She had five wonderful grandchildren, whom she enjoyed despite her later brain injury.

Martha taught Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes, taught teenagers how to water ski, and inspired everyone around to be interested in eclipses, comets, space travel, and volcanos. She raised over a $100,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and was appointed to their Lay Review Committee, where she helped award grants to scientists. She rode 100 miles in 100-degree heat at the HHH in Wichita Falls. She rode Freewheel three times and near the end of her functional life was a stoker on a tandem with her husband. She liked riding roller coasters, and she celebrated her 50th birthday by sky diving. She was at every event for her daughters. Martha also took part in summer projects such as research in Marine Biology in Florida and research for an asthma inhaler in Washington State. She was an active member and Elder of the First Presbyterian Church and was part of a small informal group of teachers who quietly bought coats for children.

Martha was diagnosed with Pick’s Disease 2002, which is a fast acting, rare, and deadly early onset dementia. The average survival is three years. During her last years, she was like a happy one year old. She would happily walk for miles in the house. In keeping with her earlier wishes and life-long values, she donated her brain to the Harvard Brain Bank and the rest of her body to the Oklahoma United Tissue Network.

Martha is preceded in death by her parents Eddie and Marie Gentry and beloved aunt and uncle Bill and Louise Sears. She is survived by her loving husband of 50 years Dr. William T. Bryant; daughter, Lynn Baker; son in law, Chris Baker; and grandchildren Hannah (18), Hadyn (15), and Zach Baker (11) of Fort Worth, Texas. She is also survived by daughter Katie Holland, son-in-law Patrick Holland, and grandchildren Katelynn (17) and Lily Holland (13) of Otsego, MN.

The family will receive friends at First Presbyterian Church of Okmulgee, on Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m., and the Memorial Service will be Friday, June 15, at 2 p.m.

Please make donations to JDRF 907 S Detroit Ave #1006, Tulsa, OK 74120, 918-481-5807.

 

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