Gary Bryant Garris
07/22/1950 - 10/23/2021
Obituary For Gary Bryant Garris
Virginia Beach- Gary Bryant Garris, age 71, entered the more immediate presence of his Lord and Savior on Saturday, October 23, 2021, surrounded by loved ones.
Born to Elizabeth Shackleford and Eugene Alfonza Garris, he grew up loving the outdoors, camping with his family on summer vacations, fishing our local waterways, and hunting with his brothers, Mark and Gene, under the tutelage of their father, a Marine Corps veteran.
With southern charm, he grew up in the Norview section of “Nawfek”, graduated from Norview High School, completed his apprenticeship as an electrician at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, keeping his license current throughout his life, and completed far more hours than any college degree requires.
Gary sought challenges and solving problems. As an astute trouble shooter, he entered the IT field and loved being able to determine whatever glitch was causing havoc, representing such companies as Data 100, Honeywell and Tecnico. He later worked in several capacities in civil service with the Navy, working in tele-communications at the Naval Supply Center and then at NCTAMS LANT. Gary received an award from NETWARCOM for working on an MCI project. For his years of dedication and hard work, he received the Oscar the Octopus Award, designed by Walt Disney in 1944, acknowledging Gary’s overall excellence as a Navy Communicator. During his years working in civil service, he was also awarded with two of his co-workers becoming the sisters he never had: Teresa Speight and Gail Ormand.
Gary was fascinated by complexity, learning how things worked and finding solutions. He applied that probative talent to many aspects of everyday life as well, like being able to fix anything, to repair any of his antique cars, fire trucks, Republic trucks from the early 1900’s and even his rare Kelly Springfield truck. Gary loved fixing things --- and he was a master.
One of his favorite roles in life was stepping in as father to two special daughters, Marcy Hewitt Laney and Abbey Hewitt Roberts. He enjoyed shelling pistachios while cheering them on at every softball game, swapping the day's events at dinner, allowing them to hog the tv after their nightly chores, and often repeating one of his many trademark sayings in adoration. Upon Abbey’s earning a speeding ticket, she offered not knowing the speed limit was 65 as her reason. With a giggle, Gary responded, “well, Abbey, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.” Another expression his daughters recall being cited frequently is, “That face makes me want to fold like a $2 wallet.”
Marcy and Gary’s special time was when she got to join him on their weekly runs to the brush center. She recalls Gary encouraging her to joy ride up and down the hill, under his supervision, of course. Being in the car and taking Sunday drives was often therapeutic for them both. They also shared a love of Mexican cuisine, including a sip of Gary’s margarita.
Abbey and Gary spent many days fishing together, although Gary endlessly had to request she stop making noise and scaring the fish away. Abbey recalls many days tinkering in the yard, around the pool, and “helping” Gary with various projects, none of which were too big to take on. One summer Gary built Abbey the tepee hideout of her childhood dreams in the backyard. He took great delight in repairing an uneven portion of the front walkway over which Abbey had stumbled on her way to school. By that afternoon, her name and date were etched in the cement. The sight of this always prompted a smile from him.
As Marcy and Abbey got older, their relationship with Gary naturally evolved from one of parental guidance to a deeper understanding of adulthood and life’s adventures. Gary was always an active listener, contributor of candid advice, and the most trusted confidant.
When Marcy and her husband, Chris, began starting a family, they not only extended Gary’s joy by awarding him the special position of grandfather, but honored him by giving their first born, Aiden, Gary's middle name, Bryant. They completed their family by adding Weston, Gavin, and finally, Karsyn. Upon each child’s arrival, he spent time rocking them with tears streaming down his cheeks as he welcomed them into the world. Gary rarely smiled when being photographed, except when he was in the presence of his girls or his grandchildren.
Another cherished role in life was walking Abbey down the aisle at her wedding to her husband, Nathan. When Abbey asked him to wear a top hat for her January wedding, Gary was delighted to comply. Gary welcomed Nathan into the family. They enjoyed target shooting during a visit to Arkansas where Nathan was stationed at the time. As a proud father, Gary reveled in Abbey’s ability to make a plan and complete it. He was so proud of her entrepreneurial spirit, starting her own photography studio.
Gary was a true dog whisperer. Animals sensed his immediate love and appreciation, shared with numerous pets over the course of his lifetime. He returned their faithful dedication by making them members of the family. In fact, Gary took his Brittany, Jack, for acupuncture to relieve his joint pain.
Desiree LaCross expressed her respect for Gary beyond helping care for his pets on difficult days to checking on Gary throughout his years of chemo and hormone therapy. Over the course of over ten years, Gary came to recognize Desiree as an endearing family friend.
In 2010, Gary married Martha Bagby to whom he expressed the generosity and compassion he always showed his friends and family. A man of integrity, he was a devoted husband, ever assuring her happiness, as the chef, her dedicated nurse during frequent migraines, and her best friend. They enjoyed travelling across our beautiful country to visit Marcy and Abbey and their dear families, taking an annual trek to Hershey, PA to explore acres of car parts, cars for sale and cars on exhibit, and making trips to Martha’s hometown of Winston-Salem, NC.
As the model southern gentleman, Gary treated his mother-in-law, Marie, with upmost respect and frequently commented on how much she reminded him of his mother. Nephew Seth Robinette shared Gary’s love of cars with Seth giving up vacation days to help Gary fix his Jensen Healey. Gary enjoyed hearing Martha’s brother, David, and Seth play in the Moravian brass band. David’s wife, Sabrena, Keith Robinette and Gary, the chefs of the family, would compare notes on recipes when preparing holiday dishes. Martha’s sister, Elizabeth Robinette sent frequent cards as one of the many expressions of her affection for Gary especially during the height of the pandemic. She also knit several beautiful throws for him. Gary shared that he felt loved by the Bagby family, for they so graciously welcomed him. Most folks knew Gary to be a quiet fellow, but he loved sharing stories with my brother, David, his brother Mark, and his dear cousin, Betty Hutton, who would spend hours visiting by phone.
Gary was a constant helpmate in all of Martha’s activities like catering Phi Theta Kappa events, searching for just the right stuffed animals to clothe and distribute to children through Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, and Seton House, and serving as a valued mentor to several TCC students, but most especially to Deanna Pledger. Though he did not give himself credit for his numerous talents and gifts, he touched so many lives in a myriad of ways.
May we honor Gary’s goodness, just as he honored and appreciated our goodness. Just think of the magnificent lesson in that, and how wonderful our world can be if we honor one another’s goodness.
We will meet to honor Gary Bryant Garris at Red Wing Park, 1398 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 on Friday, November 12, 2021 at 11:00 AM. If you would like, please wear blue, his favorite color.
In lieu of flowers, please consider one of the following agencies which reflect some of Gary’s passions.
National Brittany Rescue & Adoption Network https://donate.keela.co/national-brittany-rescue-and-adoption-network/default-donation-form-96
Best Friends Animal Society www.bestfriends.org/donate
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation https://secure.cbf.org/site/Donation.
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