The Port Orchard and South Kitsap community reacted with sadness over the passing last week of civic booster, community activist and unofficial historian Bryan Petro.
As are many community legends, Petro was part-showman, bon vivant, prideful citizen and fount of knowledge about all things local. His presence around downtown Port Orchard was known well before his arrival, thanks to a trademark, infectious belly laugh and rich grin.
Bryan Petro easily fit the role of Port Orchard’s Wizard of Oz, possessing boundless energy, enthusiasm about the city’s future and deep devotion and wonderment about its past. He was a real-estate agent by trade, but a civic promoter by nature. A visit to his real-estate office was an education all its own. Old maps and charts of Port Orchard and South Kitsap were pinned to the walls. Scrapbooks and weathered, written pages of the town’s history sat piled atop yet more hidden accounts of the region he loved and revered.
There was no mistaking where Petro stood about his beloved city and his alma mater, South Kitsap High School, Bryan left no doubt that the best way — the only way, he felt — for his town to succeed, and to help others in need, was through the power of positivity. In Bryan’s world, there was no place for negative thinking or pessimism. He believed the only way to achieve greatness as a community was to work at it — together — in the spirit of goodwill.
The two parts of Bryan Petro — the irrepressible, endearing and boisterous man embroidered with the word “character” on him — and the civic treasure — a relentless, tireless volunteer, do-gooder and history buff — judged separately, are premature losses that we’ll feel for quite some time.
But combined, those two parts created a unique and appreciated, irreplaceable community one of a kind. Thank you for everything you gave to us, Bryan. We’re richer for the experience.