Natalie Bryson honored as a ‘community treasure’

She won’t admit it, but Natalie Bryson is a “community treasure.”

Natalie Bryson

She won’t admit it, but Natalie Bryson is a “community treasure.”

The long-time Kitsap County resident advocates equality, encourages HIV/AIDS awareness education, volunteers, shares, leads and loves.

For those reasons and more, about 125 supporters attended “An Evening Honoring Natalie Bryson” on Thursday, celebrating her work with pride — and ice cream — at Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bremerton.

In conjunction with the Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation, the Pride Foundation organized the event, bringing together local dignitaries, friends and Bryson supporters.

“She’s a very dedicated person with a tremendous heart,” said friend Ann Lovell, who met Bryson 12 years ago. “There’s only one like her.”

Bryson’s community service reaches far and includes involvement with Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation, the Pride Foundation, Silverdale Rotary, the Central Kitsap Community Council, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Kitsap Community Foundation, YWCA and more.

“Determination. As I thought about Natalie, that was the word that came to mind,” Pride Foundation member Audrey Haberman said, calling Bryson “incredibly generous,” “funny” and “warm.”

“The way she holds your hand, puts her arm around you … looks at you with those sparkling eyes,” Haberman added.

Bryson lost two sons to HIV/AIDS, one of whom battled the disease for 13 years. Those losses compelled her to spend the latter portion of her life helping others.

“I was blessed more than anyone I know with having been given unfinished business,” Bryson explained.

She joined the Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation in 1999, taking over as president soon after, and led the foundation for eight years before retiring in 2007.

With only $31 to its name, Bryson built the foundation from the ground up, running it from her own dining room table.

“She’s brought the foundation from nothing to having a presence in Silverdale,” current president Paul Holzman said. “If somebody had a need and they called Natalie, she would drop everything.”

Simply selfless, as her supporters described Thursday, Bryson prefers to find positives in every situation.

“You really don’t have an awful lot of burdens,” she said. “I’ve been given gifts.”

She called Thursday’s celebration “unbelievable.”

“People have come who I haven’t seen in a long time,” Bryson said. “I’m with friends tonight, I know that I am.”

Lovell read aloud a letter written by Bryson’s children, who thanked their mother for being such a leader and encouraging them to volunteer in their respective communities.

“Mom is our inspiration and our guiding light,” the letter said.

Norm Dicks also sent a letter, which was read aloud, giving Bryson a “heartfelt thanks” for her dedication to Kitsap County.

“Our community appreciates your efforts,” Dicks wrote.

Despite the accolades, Bryson chose to compliment those around her, her friends, colleagues and family for being teachers.

“It was what they taught me, not what I taught them,” she said. “No one does this alone.”

More in Life

Three SK DECA students organize second Bowling for a Cause event

Activity will roll at Hi Joy Bowl on Saturday

South Kitsap’s ‘CF warriors’ raise money to combat CF

Organizers Piper Willson and Joseph Laws say the 5K Run will become annual event

Manchester magic at folksy grill, pub

Oktoberfest oompah music, down-home friendliness define burg’s charm

Fathoms O’ Fun royalty scholarship program seeking applicants

Potential Royalty Court candidates being sought from among 6th through 12th graders in South Kitsap.

Poulsbo Elementary Safety Patrol (photo by Teri Marshall) (l-r)
                                Kayla Karlin, Garrett Stoddard, Alexis Kofol, Mia Kalmbach, Eliana Frazier, Abigail Holland, Gracie Griffin, Dagny Melone, Natalie Ramey, Conner Bue, Hailey Langford, Peyton Maganda, Toby Duncan, and Davin Lancaster.
Safety Patrol teaches leadership and inspires Poulsbo Elementary students

Becoming a member of the Safety Patrol at Poulsbo Elementary is often… Continue reading

The Port Gamble General Store and Cafe has new owners.
Swinging into September in Port Gamble

See what visitors will be getting up to in Port Gamble through the month of September

Poulsbo Community Orchestra to host BBQ fundraiser

The Poulsbo Community Orchestra (PCO) will stage its second annual BBQ fundraiser… Continue reading

Poulsbo Community Orchestra to host BBQ fundraiser

The fundraiser is set for Sept. 7

Barrelman Denny Halstead awaits his time to step into the ring. (Photo courtesy Kent Soule - Hoot Creek Photography)
The ballad of the bullfighter | KITSAP COUNTY FAIR

Ask a bullfighter why they go out there, night after night, and… Continue reading

Georgia Lieb and Kaia Whishant are Kitsap Stampede and Rodeo royalty. (Photo courtesy Danise Barnes)
Meet your rodeo royalty | KITSAP COUNTY FAIR

Giddy up! And say hello to Rodeo Royalty, Miss Kitsap Fair &… Continue reading

Craig Morgan
Fair headliners promise a myriad of sonic stylings | KITSAP COUNTY FAIR

A “Redneck Yacht Club.” Anthems celebrating the “Young And Foolish.” And exes… Continue reading