The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 12, 2014

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Column opens up memories of Doc Bryan

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Sometimes a story leads to another story, which leads to another. Such was the case with my fishing vest column last week. It netted me a stringer full of notes and messages from readers.

Some were fellow anglers. Some knew of Jo Helen Bowyer, the original owner of my vest. And some knew my grandpa, Doc Bryan.

Doc, who lived in Erie, Kan., wasn’t a grandpa who pulled you up on his lap in the easy chair and told you stories of his life. He was a grandpa you followed around as he planted vegetable and fruit gardens, tended his orchards and peacocks and beehives, and loaded up the truck to go feed the fish in his many ponds.

He didn’t do a lot of talking. For years I was certain he didn’t know any of his nine grandkids’ names, because he called everyone “Bud” or “Gal.”

Everything I inherited from him — my love for puttering outdoors, for sinking my hands into the earth at the beginning of each season and harvesting bounty at the end, for tending critters — was inherited through the power of observation.

He died 20 years ago this month, on Kansas Day 1994, cutting short my time of getting to really document his life. But historical accounts have him delivering most of Neosho County in his day, and there is a museum exhibit in St. Paul that replicates his medical practice, complete with little black bag.

Roy Winans, who hailed from Stark, Kan., wrote to say he remembered him well. Grandpa treated the Winanses when they lived in Erie. Four generations of Winanses are buried in Lakeview and East Hill cemeteries, where my grandparents also are buried.

Monica Murnan, who lives in Pittsburg and works at Greenbush, sent me a photo taken at Labette County Medical Center of a “Physicians Wall of Honor,” which includes Grandpa.

One of the farthest notes came from Tulsa, Okla., resident Rocky Naff. He and his wife, a Joplin native who grew up near Shoal Creek, are beginning fly fishers. They subscribe to the online version of the Globe to keep in touch with the area, which is how they came across my column.

Rocky wrote to tell me that my grandpa was a family doctor to the Naffs when they lived in Erie. Rocky’s dad, W.R. Naff, owned and operated an auto parts store there until 1959. The business was just down the block from my grandpa’s practice on Main Street.

My grandpa and the elder Naff, both avid hunters, made trips to Colorado and Wyoming a few times to hunt deer and elk, and the younger Naff recalled Doc Bryan falling on one trip and breaking his leg. The elder Naff helped him back to camp.

As Rocky became a teen, he was busy working at his dad’s business after school and in the summer, and they never made time to do much hunting and fishing. It was only in the last several years that Rocky has had the time, desire and money to do so himself.

His middle name, he told me, is Bryan. His parents chose it in honor of my grandpa, who delivered him.

To those who knew Doc and took time to write, thank you — I am grateful. For you, I have the beginnings of another story to add to this stringer: My little brother Neil, now 40, also followed Grandpa around his acreage.

An interest in medicine pulled Neil to work first as an EMT, then paramedic, then for St. John’s MedFlight. On May 17, he will graduate from the University of Kansas Medical School — Grandpa’s alma mater — and will become the next Doc Bryan.

FOLLOW ANDRA BRYAN STEFANONI on Facebook at facebook.com/andrajournalist and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Last two safe room projects up for Joplin School Board approval

    The Joplin Board of Education during its meeting tonight will consider more than $2.4 million in bid packages for safe rooms at Columbia and West Central elementary schools.

    April 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Mosaic pieces together purpose

    Today I want to tell you about a man named John — a man I never knew existed until last week. And yet he’s making a difference in my community. He is an individual served by Mosaic of Southeast Kansas, which also, I learned, is making a difference.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage Historic Preservation to re-create trolley era

    Recapturing history is difficult, but recapturing history without a building, an artifact or a singular focal point is even harder. To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Carthage Historic Preservation wants to recapture an era and an experience that have been gone from the city for almost 80 years: the era of the trolley (or tram) cars that provided public transportation.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Candidates for associate judge address GOP group

    The response was all but unanimous among four candidates seeking two Jasper County associate circuit judge positions. Asked to cite the biggest obstacle to justice in Jasper County, three of the four said the most prevalent challenge is getting the needed time on a busy court docket.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Money to area lawmakers slows down but doesn’t stop

    With the Legislature back in session, the flow of campaign cash to local candidates has slowed. But in this election year, the money did not completely stop. All members of the local delegation to the Missouri General Assembly are on the ballot this year, but only two lawmakers are facing opposition.

    April 20, 2014

  • Joplin City Council to hear baseball plan details

    Proposed redevelopment plans for Joe Becker Stadium will be discussed with the Joplin City Council in a work session at the end of its regular meeting tonight. The WLD Suarez partnership has obtained a franchise of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball that succeeds the El Paso (Texas) Diablos.

    April 20, 2014

  • 041814 EPA projects5_72.jpg Contaminated mine tailings could be used on west bypass

    About 500 acres of former mining land at Wildwood Ranch have been reclaimed by contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than 1 million cubic yards of contaminated mine tailings in the form of chat and waste rock have been consolidated in a surface repository that someday could be part of the roadbed for a limited-access highway that transportation planners hope to build on the west side of Joplin.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0420earthday.jpg Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events

    Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, following Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine. Do you think we should deploy these troops?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter