MOUNT MORRIS – Debra S. Bryant, 62, of Mount Morris, passed at home Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. Deb was born May 31, 1957 to Larry and Deloris (Miller) Gilmer (formerly of Mount Morris). Deb was a loving daughter, mother, grandmother and wife. She shared her love with many family members, friends and animals. She often could be seen walking her black lab "Oreo" in parks and on rural roads around Mount Morris.
Following her birth in Huntington, Ind., she moved with her family to Mount Morris, where she attended elementary school, and moved again to Elmhurst, where she graduated from York High School. She was admitted to NIU in DeKalb, where she received a Bachelor's Degree. Deb remained in DeKalb where she tried several careers, eventually choosing permanent employment at NIU. She held numerous positions as she advanced from personnel officer to Associate Vice President for Operations for labor/management negotiations. After 28 years at NIU she retired and settled with her husband in rural Mount Morris in a home they designed and built to enjoy a bucolic life together.
Deb was a member of St. James Lutheran church in Forreston and served on the church council for several years. On behalf of the church she regularly sent get well and condolence cards to congregation members, bought Christmas gifts for children who would not otherwise receive them and contributed baked goods for church functions, especially the annual Ice Cream Social.
Also a member of Ogle County Master Gardeners, she dedicated many hours volunteering for garden-related presentations in several retirement homes in Ogle County. She loved seeing the excitement in the eyes of the residents working on craft projects each month, almost as much as she did planting and nurturing her gardens. From planting and trimming trees to achieving the perfect lawn her efforts were tireless.
Deb was politically involved as well, serving Ogle County Democrats as precinct representative and secretary. She and Oreo walked in many county parades or went door-to-door canvassing for signatures or support at election time. On election days she served as an election judge.
She is survived by her parents and her sister Dianne (Barry Nathan) along with several nephews and nieces. From her first marriage she is survived by her son Rory (Kelly Gardner) Schlarb, daughter Dayna (Jacob Greer), and beloved grandchildren Clara, Rowan and Levi Greer. Her ties to her Schlarb in-laws after divorce remained pleasant through regular communication and combined family events.
In mid-life she married James (Jim) Bryant and accepted new in-laws and step-family members, all of whom she received with her special brand of acceptance without the need for the prefix "step" or suffix "in-law." She is survived by her husband, daughter Lora (Jim McGrath) and daughter Stephanie (Mathew Freistadt). Along with the new daughters came many more who called Deb "Grandma" including: Mallory and Alexandra Drevline, Patrick McGrath, Isabel, Lily, Logan and Brody Freistadt. Surviving new siblings are Ed, Mike and Tom (Donica) Bryant.
For most of her adult life Deb struggled with the symptoms and side-effects of Crohn's Disease. It hampered her abilities but never her determination, optimistic outlook, or loving disposition. In lieu of flowers, she would ask for donations to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation to help in the search for a cure (www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org
Memorial service will be held on Saturday March 7, 2020 at 11 a.m. in Finch Funeral Home, 405 East Hitt, Morris, with Rev. Karyn Kost officiating. Visitation be on Saturday March 7, 2020 from 9 a.m. until service time in Finch Funeral Home. Deb requested cremation and a private burial when spring arrives and the forsythia are in bloom.