The Rev. Robert “Bob” Bryan, half of the original “Bert and I” Downeast Maine humor storytelling team that included the late Marshall Dodge, died Wednesday in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. He was 87.

Bob Bryan, left, and Marshall Dodge in the 1970s. The two recorded several “Bert and I” albums and influenced the way the rest of America saw Mainers. Dodge was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1982.

“Bob Bryan and Marshall Dodge stand as two towering figures in Maine’s cultural heritage through their creation of the Bert and I stories,” said Dean Lunt, publisher of Islandport Press and producer of “The Best of Bert and I” CD. “The images of the farmer, woodsman and fisherman and the type of dry humor they popularized through their early stories not only influenced future generations of storytellers such as John McDonald and Tim Sample, but impacted the image Maine presented to the rest of America.”

The iconic duo recorded several “Bert and I” albums from 1958 into the 1970s, and Bryan and Tim Sample, another Maine humorist, recorded two albums together, “How to Talk Yankee” in 1982 and Bryan’s final album, “Bert and I … Rebooted” in 2013, said Cherie Hoyt, the album’s producer.

In one classic “Bert and I” exchange, a man stops to ask for directions to the northern Maine town of Millinocket. After describing several possible driving routes in a slow, Downeast drawl, the bit ends with the oft-repeated punchline, “Come to think of it, you can’t get there from here.”

Dodge, who was one of New England’s premier humorists in the 1960s and 1970s, was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Hawaii in 1982. He was 45.

Sample recalled Wednesday night his experience working with both men.

“I was devastated when Marshall died,” Sample said. “Marshall and I were barreling along, touring together, and suddenly he was gone. It was the first time I thought of quitting the business. But Bob was kind and patient and thoughtful with me. He just shepherded me along and we had a blast recording ‘How to Talk Yankee’ together.”

A multifaceted man, Bryan was archdeacon emeritus of the North Shore Anglican Church of Canada, having spent 50 years as a bush pilot ministering to remote fishing villages of northern Quebec.

With his earnings from the “Bert and I” albums, he founded the Quebec-Labrador Foundation, based in Ipswich, Massachusetts, “to support the rural communities and environment of eastern Canada and New England, and to create models for stewardship and cultural heritage that can be applied worldwide.”

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Bryan spent summers as a boy at his family’s place at Tunk Lake, near Ellsworth. He was a graduate of The Hotchkiss School, Hebron Academy, Yale University and Yale Divinity School, according to his 2014 autobiography, “Robert Bryan: The Flying Pastor of Labrador and the Real Story Behind Bert and I.” He was married to the Rev. Patricia Peacock and had several children and grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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