Obituaries » Berkley O. "Berk" Bryant

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Berkley O. "Berk" Bryant

June 8, 1930 - December 24, 2020

A private family service will be held January 4, 2020, with burial at Fort Hill Memorial Park in Lynchburg.

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Bryant, Berkley O. “Berk”, 90, a longtime resident of Radcliff, KY, passed away suddenly December 24, 2020, at Heritage Green Assisted Living and Memory Care in Lynchburg, VA, after a period of declining health.

Berk was born and raised in Lynchburg, VA, where he graduated from E.C. Glass High School in 1946.   He was a Vietnam War veteran and served over 20 years in the U.S. Army.  After military retirement at Fort Knox, KY, in 1982, he remained a resident of nearby Radcliff, KY, for over 40 years.  He continued to serve the U.S. Army at Fort Knox as a civilian until a second retirement in 1995.

Berk had two life-long passions — magic and country music.  He performed as an amateur magician everywhere he was stationed during his active-duty years.   Following arrival in Radcliff, KY, in 1978, and for many years thereafter, he performed on Fort Knox, in Radcliff and throughout the greater Louisville metropolitan area.  He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Society of American Magicians and was an active member of the Louisville Magic Club.

The second of Berk’s passions was old-time, bluegrass and traditional country music.   He was a well-known country music deejay in the late 1950s on two local radio stations in Lynchburg, VA.  During this time, he was honored by being named country music’s Mr. DJ USA by Nashville’s WSM Radio.  In 1989, he created and hosted a weekly bluegrass program on public radio in Louisville called “Sunday Bluegrass,” first appearing on WRNL, then moving to WFPK.  It grew to a 3-hour program which he voluntarily hosted from 8:00 to 11:00 each Sunday evening for 30 years.  “Sunday Bluegrass with Berk Bryant” was one of the most listened to programs throughout the entire Louisville-Jefferson City listening area between 8 and 11 o’clock Sunday evenings.

In retirement, “The Country Gentleman,” — a radio and stage moniker Berk used for 70 years — was a familiar face as emcee for bluegrass festivals from Michigan to Tennessee.  Personal friendships he built with locally and nationally known musicians throughout his life were a source of great pride.  A public celebration of his 30 years hosting “Sunday Bluegrass” was held in his honor March 11, 2018, during a remote broadcast from the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville.  It was Berk’s final show.  His trademark weekly sign-off — “Let’s go get a doughnut,” — is exactly what he did each Sunday night on his drive home to Radcliff following his radio broadcast.

He was a faithful member of Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, KY, for 42 years.

Berk is survived by his daughter, Sherry East, of Forest, VA, one granddaughter, and four great-granddaughters.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Esther E. Bryant, and his parents, Douglas Eugene Bryant and Ilene Elizabeth Jones.

A private family service will be held January 4, 2020, with burial at Fort Hill Memorial Park in Lynchburg.

In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to Louisville Public Media, 619 S. 4th Street, Louisville, KY 40202, or to Stithton Baptist Church, 95 Park Ave, Radcliff, KY 40160.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.



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