David Bryan had a heart for animals, particularly homeless dogs and cats in this community.
No was not in his vocabulary. Not when it came to innocent animals.
“Every time I called David to tell him we needed something he said without hesitation, ‘Yes,’ and that I should never apologize when asking for the animals,” Beegie Caviness was reminding board members and guests on June 21 when the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society announced that Bryan left $1.5 million from his estate for the no-kill animal shelter on Bragg Boulevard.
David Carroll Bryan died Sept. 10, 2020, at Duke University Medical Center after a month-long struggle with COVID-19.
He was 80.
The David Carroll Bryan Endowment for Animals will be administered through the Cumberland Community Foundation, according to a FAPS news release, with interest from the principal gift of $1 million distributed to the shelter for expansion.
“This land gift changes everything for FAPS,” said Caviness, a longtime and ardent FAPS supporter and advisory board member. “David’s gift recognizes the important place animals hold in our lives and our community and the critical role FAPS plays in supporting animals and the people who love them.”
The shelter was founded in 1982.
It is a licensed, no-kill shelter dedicated to homeless animals until they are adopted into a loving and caring lifetime environment. It also is committed to reducing the population of stray animals and promoting responsible pet ownership. FAPS receives no government funding, according to the shelter, and relies solely on the generosity of individuals and businesses to fund its lifesaving work.
“We did whatever we had to to keep cats and dogs from being euthanized in Cumberland County,” Caviness says. “While FAPS has come such a long way, there is so much more work to do in our community and David’s gift will make a difference in so many ways.”
‘We were stunned’
Autumn Blake, the shelter president, said Bryan’s generosity is the largest gift ever received in FAPS history.
“Endowments help us sustain our mission with support in perpetuity,” said Blake, who is 40. “Like this gift, the selfless reputation of David Bryan will live on forever. This is by far the largest gift FAPS has received and we were stunned when we heard the news. Mr. Bryan has certainly set an example for all animal lovers.”
Board members were overjoyed in celebrating not only The David Carroll Bryan Endowment for Animals but the life of Bryan, the former co-owner of Bryan Honda along with his brother Norwood Bryan.
Among board members in attendance on June 21 were Debbie Hall, Walter McWilliams, Lynne Barrett, Jackie Bradley, Beppi Smith and Lisa Wade Wellington. Past board members included Sarah O’Hanlon, Janice Melton, Lindsey Graham, Debbie Williams, Dianne MacIlwinen, Brian Smith, Arleen Keleher and Jackie Danker.
“This gift from Mr. Bryan cements his legacy as a selfless and generous animal-loving philanthropist and ensures second chances to thousands of animals for years to come,” says Jackie Peery, executive director of FAPS since 2016. “2022 is a special year as we celebrate 40 years of saving lives of homeless cats and dogs in our community.
“These past four decades, FAPS has grown from a small, humble operation to the area’s premier no-kill shelter. However, we were landlocked before now and with no room to expand we were at a standstill as we had reached our capacity for care. It was only out of the generosity of Jay Wyatt of Valley Auto that we have had a place to park and walk our dogs for all these years.
“David Bryan’s gift allows FAPS the opportunity to expand through a future capital campaign, care for more animals, grow our outreach programs,” Perry says, “and ultimately, save more lives.”
Always for others and never himself
David Bryan, friends will tell you, was a quiet philanthropist for others. He sought no praise for his giving ways. He sought no accolades or favor in return.
“David helped a lot of people, particularly at Duke hospital,” Crawford MacKethan would send a message on May 2, 2021, when friends gathered to remember Bryan at a memorial luncheon of family and friends at Wrightsville Beach, where his ashes were committed to the sea that David Bryan loved just miles from his Seapath Towers retreat.
Dr. Kim Lyerly would affirm MacKethan’s words.
“David asked for a lot of things for other people,” says Lyerly, a surgeon at Duke University Medical Center and director of its cancer center. “He never asked me once for something for him.”
Bryan was there when young people were financially struggling with their college dreams, providing educational scholarships and financial support. He supported everything from Methodist University to the Cape Fear Regional Theatre to the Fayetteville Symphony.
And never to forget the animals.
“He just had a respect for all living things,” brother Norwood Bryan says. “He and his late wife, Beth, had a golden retriever named Honeybee, and Beth once found a cat in a storm drain. It was just a kitten. They had to have his tail amputated and its left rear leg. They nursed him back to health and named him Mr. Bailey. We used to talk, and he always said he would leave something for FAPS because he knew how important FAPS was to animals.”
You could hear the canines barking loudly on June 21 when Beegie Caviness, Autumn Blake, Jackie Peery and FAPS board members past and present celebrated the life of David Carroll Bryan and the most generous financial gift the no-kill animal shelter ever has known.
You almost could imagine Bryan looking down from Rainbow Bridge, with Honeybee by his side, and with animals who found loving homes because he and the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society cared.
“Every time I called David to tell him we needed something he said without hesitation, ‘Yes,’ and that I should never apologize when asking for the animals,” Beegie Caviness would say. “This man truly is a gem.”
If dogs or felines could talk, they surely would say so, too.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-624-1961.