Danny Tabs

Writing - Biographies

I wrote the following biographies for the funeral programs of two close relatives. I have included them here both to showcase a different writing style and honor their memories. These are not objective, properly sourced journalism articles.

Alexandria Frances Bryk

1929 ~ 2014

There are many good grandmothers, but there was only one “Memo.” Long shrouded in mystique to outsiders, the enduring nickname entrenched itself in her family’s vernacular and folklore. “Memo” became synonymous with Alexandria Bryk’s most endearing qualities: her loving heart, her charming sweetness, her magnanimous aura. Memo was a treasure. She will be fondly remembered and forever missed.

Alexandria “June” Frances (Kidon) Bryk was born on April 4, 1929 in Detroit, where she grew up with sisters, Alice and Florence, and brother, Bob. June attended St. Luke’s Grade School and graduated from Mackenzie High School in 1947. She worked at University Liggett School from 1961-1999 as a preschool teacher’s assistant and after-school coordinator. June was married to Peter Bryk Jr. from 1950 until his passing in 2004.

As a 15-year-old girl, June’s life was catalyzed by the meeting of Peter at a housewarming party involving mutual friends of their families. The young couple married in 1950 and moved to Grosse Pointe Woods shortly thereafter, with dreams of starting and raising a family. June and Peter chose a cozy colonial on Huntington Boulevard, largely because of its backyard’s adjoining location to Ghesquiere Park. The choice resulted in a wonderful setting for their three children to come of age: Lawrence, David, and Barbara, respectively. Ghesquiere Park became a fun sanctuary next-door for the children, who routinely ran off to play for hours, with only a promise to their mother to be home before dark. Annual summer vacations in the station wagon were a cherished tradition as well. Life was good for the Bryk family.

Meanwhile, from the time all three children had outgrown toddlerhood, June had begun working at the preschool of Grosse Pointe University School, now known as University Liggett School. Beginning as a volunteer, she eventually procured a permanent position and became a mainstay of the institution over the next 38 years. June even inspired the after-school program, affectionately remembered by the name, “Extended Day,” which informally originated in her home when she started taking in students after school to help their parents. Life was never better than when she had all five of her grandchildren together at Liggett, including, of course, at Extended Day. June loved working with children and consistently went the extra mile for her job, including frequent late hours that were off the clock. Her impact on the lives of children, parents, and teachers is immeasurable. June was a Liggett legend, and she always will be.

June had only a few hobbies: gardening, traveling, shopping, trying out new recipes, and enjoying the companionship of her cat, Jamie. Her only true loves were her career and, most importantly, her family. When they were happy, she was happy. Memo especially adored her grandchildren in this way: Jimmy, Danny, Allie, Liz, and Annie. She loved spending time with them: cooking them applesauce crepes on the mornings of baby-sitting overnights, spoiling them with presents, attending their school and sporting events, taking them out to eat at Pancake House. Memo was simply the best.

June Bryk led a full and complete life. She was universally loved and adored by her family, friends, students, and all that knew her. June was the matriarch who engendered a wonderful family of her children, their children, and on down the line: together making up the loving, close-knit group forever known as “the 12 of us.” Thus every time they get together, as they often do, they can look back and thank Memo.

Written by Daniel Fortune

Lawrence Francis Bryk

1953 ~ 2014

Lawrence Bryk had a heart of gold. He was a kind, gentle soul who believed in the goodness of people with a childlike innocence. He was a caring man who loved those around him with an endearing transparency and generosity. Larry was a beloved presence in the family: a frequent inspiration for laughter and a reassuring constant in countless gatherings and special occasions over many years. He will be profoundly missed.

Lawrence Francis Bryk was born on March 30, 1953 at St. John Hospital in Detroit. He graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School in 1971 and earned an associate degree in general office clerical from Wayne County Community College in 1986. Larry worked at DaimlerChrysler Corporation from 1972-2004 in various capacities.

Larry loved to romanticize the past. He frequently spoke of the "olden days" with great affection. Larry grew up during the ‘50s and ‘60s with his parents and younger brother and sister in Grosse Pointe Woods, where he worked several neighborhood jobs, including a paper route delivering the Detroit Shopping News. One of his fondest memories was folding the newspapers on Friday nights with his brother David while watching “The Time Tunnel,” which forever remained Larry’s favorite television show. Larry was involved in many different activities when he was growing up. As part of Boy Scouts, he met his childhood best friend Tom Jantz, who remained a close, lifelong friend. Larry was also a Little League baseball player, talented bowler, and avid football player in his younger days. He won 3rd place in the Ford Dealers 1966 Punt, Pass, and Kick Competition, and was awarded a certificate by Detroit Lions quarterback Karl Sweetan.

A year after graduating high school, a friend set up Larry with a job at Chrysler, where he gradually worked his way up from janitor to blueprint scanning technician during the course of 32 years, with seldom a day missed. After retiring in 2004, Larry began volunteering at St. John Hospital, where he gave over 7,000 hours of service and was honored as "Volunteer of the Month" for the totality of his work. Larry was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 but never lost his smile or optimism.

Larry loved going to the movies, traveling, watching the Detroit Lions and Tigers, and most of all spending time with his family. A special tradition was attending the Lions Thanksgiving game together. He attended every one from 1962 to 2013. Larry was very much steeped in tradition. On every important holiday, he took pride in giving and sending greeting cards to everyone he cared about. It was one of the many ways he expressed his love. Larry also had a fascination with Idaho, which began as a teenager when David returned from a Boy Scout trip to the potato state with a souvenir for his older brother: a chocolate Spud bar. Larry was a devoted Catholic and churchgoer as well. He loved attending mass at different churches and talking to the priests.

Larry Bryk had a good life. He touched a lot of people. Larry never married, but he was very loved. He was never a father, but he was a godfather and a caring uncle. He won't live on through any children, but he will through his nephews and nieces, who will surely, someday, tell their children about Uncle Larry.

Written by Daniel Fortune