NSU professor emeritus Dr. Bill Bryant dies at 84

Kendall Caple   


Northwestern State University professor emeritus in the Department of Fine and Graphic Arts Dr. Bill Bryant died at age 84 on Jan. 18. 

Bryant’s teaching career at NSU began in 1976, lasting almost 30 years before his retirement in 2004, according to his obituary on Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home’s website.  

In addition to teaching in the classroom, Bryant served as NSU’s coordinator of the art department  for several years and was constantly engaging with new spectrums of art and music.   

“He took NSU students on yearly summer painting trips to such places as Italy, Spain, Mexico, Nova Scotia, and one of his favorite art destinations, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico,” his obituary said.  

NSU design and photography professor Michael Yankowski said without Bryant there would be no art department. 

“For the art department he was the main driving force when it came to getting our department accredited with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design,” Yankowski said. Bryant hired Yankowski 35 years ago. 

Collier Hyams, associate professor of art and coordinator of graduate studies for fine and graphic arts, knew Bryant as not only a colleague but as a family acquaintance because Hyams’ father served in the Army at the same time as Bryant.  

“During his time in the Army, Dr. Bryant would run arts and crafts shops and teach art classes,” Hyams said.  

Bryant was a member of the Hoover Watercolor Society, a contributing cartoonist for the Natchitoches Times and an inductee into the Louisiana Folklife Center’s Hall of Master Folk Artists. 

“Dr. Bryant was always bringing new artistic opportunities to Natchitoches,” Hyams said. “He was really engaged with the arts and the community.” 

Bryant’s artistic legacy has left a permanent mark on Natchitoches, and he will be remembered for his immense talent, kindness and sense of humor.  

“He was a driving force in the community,” Yankowski said. “He taught all kinds of people, and had a lot of involvement in the art scene. He was just constantly out there making art.” 

According to Bryant’s obituary, a celebration of life event will happen later in the year, “when people can safely be together again.” In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Bryant’s name to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 E. Ohio St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60611; or pulmonaryfibrosis.org/ways-to-give/donate-now. 

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