Carleton F. Bryant Jr.
Camden — Carleton Fanton Bryant Jr, 91, died peacefully on Sept. 22 at Quarry Hill in Camden with his daughter Susan at his side.
Capt. Bryant was born on March 24, 1921 in Bangor, the son of Vice Admiral Carleton Fanton Bryant and Elizabeth Rattray Bryant, both of Bangor, and the grandson of William Cullen Bryant, the founder of W.C. Bryant & Sons Jewelers in Bangor.
Admiral Bryant’s naval career took the younger Carleton Bryant and his sister, Elizabeth (Bryant) Kelley Meigs to Connecticut, California, China and the Philippines, among other places. Living in boarding houses in China at the age of 10, Carleton needed a more structured education, so his parents sent him, by himself, to the Philippines where he attended the Brent School, a boarding school he remembered fondly for the rest of his life. When he reached 10th grade, Carleton had attended at least 10 different schools and his parents decided Carleton and his sister needed a more formal education. The two siblings were enrolled in boarding schools in Connecticut and put on a ship headed through the Panama Canal to New York with a note telling them not to talk to strangers. On arrival in New York, no one was there to meet them, so Carleton and his sister found their way, again on their own, to the train station and their respective boarding schools. No doubt due to these early experiences, Carleton remained fiercely independent and self-sufficient his entire life.
In the early 1920s, the Bryant family bought a home in Searsport, which they aptly named the Homeport. Between duty stations and later when Admiral Bryant was at sea during World War II, the family would return to Searsport. Carleton recalled fondly the partial year he attended Searsport High School, lobstering during high school and college, apprenticing for an electrician and holding hands with a girlfriend in the last pew in the local church. As much as he travelled, he always considered Maine his home.
In 1939, Carleton graduated from Choate with honors and in 1943 graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. He recalled how his last year at MIT their graduation was accelerated to satisfy the war’s need for engineers.
While attending MIT, Carleton was introduced to the former Elizabeth (Betty) Hampton of Sharon, Mass. They were married on Oct. 9, 1943 in Sharon, Mass. and they spent the next 62 years together until Betty’s death in 2005. Following his graduation in February 1943, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard, where his son, Carleton F. Bryant III was born. Brooklyn marked the beginning of Carleton’s own military service, which took him and his family across the country and to Portugal, a place he dearly loved and continued to visit throughout his life. After the war, Carleton was sent from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where the couple’s second child, Susan, was born. In 1949, the Navy sent Carleton back to MIT for a three-year advanced engineering program, from which he graduated in 1952. While at MIT, the couple had their third child, Jane. The next 14 years took the family to Norfolk, Va., Silver Spring, Md., Scituate, Mass., Lisbon, Portugal and San Francisco. In 1966, after 23 years in the Navy, Carleton retired from the service, moved back to Scituate, Mass. and began a second career as a naval architect and Marine Engineer working for J.J. Henry, a private firm with offices in Cohasset, Mass. The work for J.J. Henry took Carleton and Betty to Dunkirk, France where he assisted in the building of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Tankers for a period of several years.
In the 1973, after Carleton had been with J.J. Henry about 15 years, the office in Cohasset closed so Carleton left the firm, began taking on private consulting work and moved back to Maine. In 1981, the Bryants bought the American House, a card, gift and decorating store, then located on Elm Street in Camden, where the town offices are today. When the town took back its Elm Street location, the Bryants moved the store to Washington Street (the current home of Warner Graphics) and continued to sell Hallmark cards, cake decorating supplies and all manner of gifts until the mid-1990s, when Betty’s health forced Carleton to spend more time at home. In 1997, they closed the store and returned to Massachusetts to be closer to Betty’s family and the couple’s children. Not willing to stay inactive, Carleton began repairing and restoring clocks, an occupation he continued until his recent loss of eyesight made it impossible. In 2009, Carleton returned to Camden and moved into Quarry Hill. Although he lost much of his eyesight and his health, he never lost his sense of humor or his interest in people.
Carleton Bryant is survived by his sister, (Elizabeth) Kelley Meigs of Searsport; his son Carleton Fanton Bryant III and his wife Susan Costello Bryant of Norfolk, Va.; his daughter, Susan Elizabeth Bryant of Camden; his daughter Jane Bryant, of Scituate, Mass.; four grandchildren, Sarah Bryant Caughie and her husband Colin Caughie of Spokane, Wash.; Jonathan Reid Bryant and his wife Kimberly of Orange, Mass.; Rebecca Elaine McBee of Astoria, N.Y. and Sandra Christine McBee, DVM and her fiancé, Thomas McAnney of Tuckerton, N.J.; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service followed by a reception will be held on Monday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 55 Elm St., Camden with the Rev. Kevin Pleas officiating. Interment will take place at a later date by his wife in the Trinity Park Cemetery in Scituate, Mass. Memorial donations may be made to United Mid-Coast Charities, P.O. Box 205, Camden, ME 04843 or to Quarry Hill, c/o Pen Bay Healthcare, 22 White St., Rockland, ME 04841.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the Bryant family at longfuneralhomecamden.com. Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain St., Camden.