Richard Bryan

Rusty Bryan watched from her home in Falmouth on Saturday as a rolling memorial of nearly 35 vehicles from Custom Coach and Limousine paid tribute to her husband, Richard Bryan.

Mr. Bryan, a driver for Custom Coach and longtime owner of a boat transport company, died on April 6 from complications from coronavirus. He was 81.

“It was the classiest thing I’ve ever seen,” his wife said. “I can see my husband now standing there with his chest puffed out, saying ‘All for me?’ Him standing on his tippy-toes being all proud. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. It was so breathtaking. It touched my heart.”

Mr. Bryan worked Custom Coach for 13 years as a part-time coach and school bus driver. He drove high school and college teams to athletic events throughout Maine and New England.

Gregg Isherwood, president of the company, said Monday that Bryan was a hardworking and dedicated employee. He said the memorial included two motor coaches, one in front and one in back.

“It was a nice way to say goodbye,” Isherwood said. “It meant a lot to know that it brought closure for his wife and his fellow employees. It was closure for me.”

Mr. Bryan was a driver for more than 50 years. He previously operated his own boat transport company, R.H. Bryan & Son. His truck advertised the catchphrase, “Hauling Toys for Boys and Girls.”

His wife said he operated his company for 40 years. She shared stories about riding shotgun on deliveries to Texas and Nova Scotia. She said they used to tie up at Little Diamond Island and have lunch; and at Portland Harbor to walk around the Old Port.

“Once we delivered a boat to Texas,” she said, noting they were hauling it behind their motor home. “We were 65 feet going down the highway. He never got rattled. The bigger the load, the better he was.”

Mr. Bryan and his wife were engaged for 20 years before getting married in 1995. The couple lived in Falmouth. He had four children from his previous marriage. His wife said he loved his children very much.

Mr. Bryan began showing symptoms of COVID-19 in late March. His wife described the severity of his symptoms and the toll it took on him. She said her husband became very weak, was irritable and had unusual cravings for certain foods. She took his temperature before calling the ambulance. It was 102.8. He was transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr. Bryan received malaria drugs and the Z-Pak for his symptoms. The night before he died, his fever spiked. His wife said he was very agitated, uncomfortable and had difficulty breathing. He didn’t want to be intubated, so doctors gave him the end of life drugs, she said.

Mr. Bryan died a short time later, alone, and was cremated almost immediately. His remains were brought to his wife, who was in quarantine at their home in Falmouth.

His wife reflected on her final days with him, questioning why she was spared from the virus. She urged Mainers to stay vigilant in protecting themselves.

“I’ve never seen anyone that sick in my entire life,” she said. “It debilitates you. You can’t talk. You can’t breathe. You can’t catch your breath. It’s like you’re drowning. I have that image burned in my brain now. I don’t want to see anyone go through this. If I didn’t know what hell was before I sure do now. This disease is the face of hell.”


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