Port Orchard community activist, historian Bryan Petro dies

South Kitsap booster was a ‘one of a kind’

PORT ORCHARD — Bryan Petro, a South Kitsap real estate broker, community activist and Port Orchard’s unofficial historian, died Thursday, Dec. 14, at his home of an apparent heart attack.

Friends said it was believed Petro, 59, passed away in his sleep that night after earlier feeling unwell.

Robert McGee, owner of Whiskey Gulch CoffeePub in Port Orchard and Petro’s friend, wrote in a Dec. 18 Facebook post that “Bryan Petro was an institution in South Kitsap. Sadly, he has passed on. I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with him bettering our community, but most proud to have been able to shake his hand and call him my friend.”

A human repository of the city’s historical legacy, Petro played a large role in sharing that knowledge during the Port Orchard 125th year anniversary celebration in 2015. He gave several presentations, complete with slideshows that informed residents about the city’s past.

Petro was a real estate agent and broker with the Port Orchard office of Windermere Real Estate and a proud South Kitsap High School graduate.

Port Orchard Mayor Rob Putaansuu was a fellow South Kitsap Rotary member who served alongside Petro.

“I was sad to hear about Bryan,” Putaansuu said. “Bryan has been a member of my Rotary club for a number of years. He’s going to be missed, that’s for certain. He had a very vivacious personality.”

Port Orchard City Council member Clancy Donlin said he worked with Petro on many civic events, but mostly remembers his friend’s deep interest in the city’s historic past.

“Bryan Petro was historic Port Orchard personified,” Donlin said. “His orations of how it used to be growing up in a sleepy Northwest town on the water echoed through so many public and private events.”

Donlin said Petro was “a man of the theater.” He said that “his vocal flair found its way to a few City Council meetings.”

McGee said Petro’s legacy will be his dedication, positivity and devotion to the betterment of Port Orchard and South Kitsap.

“When you think of community here in Port Orchard, he’s the first name that pops up,” he said.

“Always positive, always involved and (he) loved the fact that he was a South Kitsap High alum. He was a big supporter of the school bond. He’d show up at the bond meetings singing the South Kitsap fight song.

“He was bigger than life, with an infectious laugh. He was just a positive dude who was all about the community. I don’t think anyone else could stand out in supporting South Kitsap like he did. If there was a community event, the man was involved somehow.”

Petro had been living with his mother, who has been ill, at the time of his death.

Petro’s family, which also includes his sister Janel Johnson of Baltimore, has scheduled a summer memorial service July 7 at First Lutheran Community Church in Port Orchard.