John Ashby Bryson, age 80, died peacefully at his home in Rockville, Maryland, on January 9, 2019. He was born December 8, 1938, and was the son of William Holmes Bryson, Jr. and Marshall Richbourg Bryson of Asheville, North Carolina.
He is survived by his brother, William Holmes Bryson, III (Sarah Ford) of Durham, North Carolina, and his nephew, Matthew Marshall Bryson, of Durham, North Carolina.
He is also survived by his nephew William Holmes Bryson, IV (Elyse) of Decatur, Georgia, and their children, Clara Grace Bryson and Drew William Bryson.
Ashby earned a Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College in 1960, and a Master of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina in 1962.
He was a much-beloved teacher at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, where he taught from 1962 until 1991, and served as chairman of the Social Studies department from 1977 until his retirement in 1991. He led multiple Walt Whitman student trips to Russia during his tenure, because he wanted his students to EXPERIENCE history, not just study it. His positive influence on the lives of his students was evident long after his retirement as many former students continued to be in contact with him over the years. It was important to them that the teacher who preferred to be called “Ashby”, not Mr. Bryson, know how pivotal he had been in their successes and career choices in later life.
After retirement, Ashby served as a docent at the Smithsonian Museum of American History from 1997 until his death. He led countless visitors through various historical exhibits, making them come alive with his colorful historical narratives. He also volunteered as a Travelers Aide at Washington Reagan National Airport for more than 20 years.
Ashby loved to travel and did so extensively in his retirement. He was an excellent photographer and carefully documented each of his trips with wonderful photographs and slides which brought great joy to his family and friends. His photographs captured the true essence of personalities, particularly in photographs of his nephews, who were very dear to his heart. In truth, his were the only really “good” photographs we ever got, even of the dog!
Graveside services will be held at 11:00 am on Feb 2, 2019 at Lewis Memorial Park in Asheville, North Carolina.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 E. Ohio Street, Suite 500, Chicago, Illinois 60611.
Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Jan. 27, 2019.Read