Donald Bryan

Donald Bryan

Retired Air Force Col. Donald W. Bryan, 89, of Kill Devil Hills, formerly of Nags Head, died Thursday, Nov 21st at his residence, completing a life of service to his country and community.   

He was born in Wilkinsburg, Pa. to Harry A. Bryan and Virginia Wright Bryan and raised in Tucson Ariz.   Don enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 soon after he turned 18.  He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and later the U.S. Air Force.  He survived 25 missions as a tech sergeant and gunner in a B-17 in England during World War II. He was later  commissioned, became a pilot and saw action during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

  Don retired to Nags Head in 1972.  He was active in the community and was elected to the Nags Head Board of Commissioners in 1975.  He served as mayor of Nags Head from 1978 until he left office in 1991.  He sat on numerous boards and committees, including the Dare County Tourism Board and a term as president of the North Carolina League of Municipalities in 1989.  

He was a longtime member of the Manteo Rotary Club and served as treasurer for Icarus International Inc. during the construction of the Monument to a Century of Flight.

An accomplished professional artist, Don most recently took first place in the 2013 Self Portrait Show at the Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head.  Among his many artistic honors are the People’s Choice Award in both the Beach Book and Frank Stick Memorial exhibitions. His artwork is exhibited at the Seaside Art Gallery in Nags Head.

Don is survived by his wife of 67 years Catharine L. Bryan of the home, a brother Barry Bryan of Silver City, N.M. and a sister Lois Bryan Martin of Cottonwood Ariz.

    Don’s legacy of service will be continued by the Don & Catharine Bryan Cultural Series, a nonprofit he founded to bring significant cultural events to the Outer Banks.

A celebration of Don’s life will be held at the Twiford Colony Chapel in Manteo on Sunday Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. with a reception to follow at Kelly’s Restaurant in Nags Head.

  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Don & Catharine Bryan Cultural Series, P.O. Box 547, Nags Head N.C. 27959 or the USO, P.O. Box 96322, Washington, D.C.  20090-6322.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Bob Middlebrooks

    Catharine and family: I had the privilege of working with Don for several years when we were both serving on the Dare County Tourism Board. Don not only proved to be a good friend but his value to the board was immeasurable. I will never forget his wisdom, business knowledge, ability to work with others and his kindness. I thought of him then as a true hero and that thought remains. Thoughts and prays are with you at this time. Bob Middlebrooks

  2. Dick Harper

    Outer Banks Treasure Lost

    During the 1980’s I had the privilege to serve as a member of the Nags Head Board of Commissioners with Don as Mayor, what a remarkable man! Don led by wisdom and example. Don was a gentleman and a man’s man. During my lifetime, there haven’t been many man’s men in the world. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Don Bryan just to name a few. The Outer banks is a better place because he lived, a sad place and a void in our hearts and lives now that he is gone. may he rest in peace.
    T. Richard Harper

  3. Sherrie Lemnios

    I’m very sorry to hear of Don’s passing. He was a special person and gave so much to our community. He was my neighbor when I first moved to the Outer Banks 27 years ago and he was always very friendly every time I saw him. He will be missed.

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