CARBONDALE — Seymour L. Bryson, 81, passed away on Sunday, May 5, 2019, in Memorial Hospital of Carbondale surrounded by his loving family.
Seymour was born on Sept. 8, 1937 in Quincy.
Bryson is a three-degree alumnus of SIUC, earning a bachelor's degree in social work in 1959, a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling in 1961 and a doctorate in education in 1972. A basketball scholarship brought Bryson to Southern Illinois University in 1955 and he enjoyed a record-setting playing career, and still holds the University's rebounding record. Upon retiring from SIU as the associate chancellor for diversity in 2008, after four decades of dedicated service to his alma mater, he said he hoped people remembered him for a legacy well beyond the basketball court.
Bryson's tenure encompassed numerous faculty and administrative positions, and he was a leader in the campus' efforts for diversity. He also helped bring at least $50 million in external grants to Southern Illinois University during his accomplished career. Widely sought as a consultant with numerous published works to his credit, he was very active in community service, including serving as president of the Carbondale chapter of the NAACP, member and chair of the Diversifying Faculty Initiative, president of the Jackson County 708 Mental Health Board, and president and member of the board of directors of the Carbondale United Way. Numerous awards and honors recognized Bryson's contributions throughout the years. Winner of the Senator Emil Jones Mentoring Award, the Introspect Access Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education, the School of Social Work Alumni Achievement Award, the Black Affairs Council Roby Given Award, the Iota Phi Theta Community Service Award, and the Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Award, just to name a few. The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inducted Bryson in 1992 and he is also an inductee into the Quincy High School and SIUC Halls of Fame. Most recently, he was honored for his humanitarian impact during the 2019 SIU Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony in April. Bryson was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Anyone that knew Seymour knows that his family meant more to him than any professional accomplishment; and in his spare time, ‘Pops' made sure that his grandchildren had fond memories of visits to Turley and Castle Parks, Dairy Queen on the strip, countless snow cones in the summertime, movies at AMC, and he influenced their love of reading and learning through regular trips to Barnes & Noble to add to their growing library. His friends and family often referred to him as the amateur Gordon Parks because of his love of photography and was seldom without his camera capturing all of the precious moments of his children's and grandchildren's lives.
Seymour is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Marjorie Bryson; son, Todd Bryson of Carbondale; daughters, Robin Bryson of Carbondale and Keri (Stephen) Burns of Dallas, Texas; grandchildren, Jordan Bryson, Keric Young, Kendall Young, Adrian Bryson, Francesca Sanchez, Fernando Sanchez and Isaiah Burns; sisters, Susie Barnes and Janice Bryson, both of Davenport, Iowa, Carol (Paul) Henry of Carbondale, brother, Raymond (Cynthia) Bryson of Rock Island; and a host of nieces, nephews and dear friends. He was preceded in death by his mother, Claudine Jackson, grandmother, Hettie Nixon, brother Edgar Bryson and sister Hettie Knaff.
Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. until the time of service at 1 p.m. Monday, May 13, at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Carbondale, with pastor Christopher E. Swims officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Dr. Seymour and Marjorie Bryson Scholarship Fund at Southern Illinois University to continue his legacy of furthering educational opportunities for students.
Jackson Funeral Home of Carbondale is in charge of arrangements.