BRUNSWICK – Joseph Bryant, a popular and dedicated guidance counselor and principal at Brunswick High School, who paved the way for hundreds of students to receive a post-secondary education, died on Sunday. He was 80.

Mr. Bryant began his career in education as an English teacher at Caribou High School around 1953. A few years later, his career was interrupted when he was drafted by the Navy. He served a tour with the Pacific Fleet and traveled to Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.

When he was discharged, Mr. Bryant returned to the classroom to teach. Soon after, he went back to school to become a guidance counselor.

He worked in the guidance office at Brunswick High School for nearly 15 years. He then served as principal for a couple of years. He retired in his early 50s after suffering a heart attack.

Eric Bryant of Freeport, the younger of his two children, said one of his father’s greatest strengths was his ability to connect with young people. He said his father’s dedication to helping students stems back to his youth.

Of his seven brothers and one sister, he was the first to receive a post-secondary education. He graduated from Colby College in 1953.

His son said he was well-liked by his students.

“It was pretty clear to me that he wasn’t as good in the classroom teaching Shakespeare, as he was one on one helping students with their career choices,” he said. “He was definitely one of the best counselors.”

He was married to Evelyn Bryant for 58 years and raised two children.

The couple met when they were 10 years old in the fifth grade at a school in South Paris.

“She was standing on the playground on the first day of school,” her son said. “She saw him racing down the street on his little bicycle and he skidded to a stop in front of her and her friends. My mother said she liked his curly brown hair and his blue eyes.”

Evelyn Bryant spoke Tuesday about their life together, noting trips to Europe, Hawaii and Alaska. For many years, the Bryants wintered in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and in Florida. Mr. Bryant also looked forward to the annual family clam bake each year.

For about 10 to 12 years, he was a customer service representative at L.L. Bean in Freeport.

He had a passion for golf and music. He was a longtime member of the Brunswick Golf Club.

He also taught himself to play the piano.

“His gift to me was music,” his son said. “I remember in the sixth grade I had been taking piano lessons for a few years and wanted to quit. He said I’m not going to let you quit. I went on to be able to play the piano quite well and play a few other instruments. Had I quit, I wouldn’t have had music in my life.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]