Celebration of the Life and Accomplishments

of Natalie E. Bryson (1931 to 2018)


Civic leader Natalie Elizabeth (Duncan) Bryson passed away peacefully and surrounded by family at her home on the Hood Canal, in view of the Olympic Mountain Range, on June 19, 2018.

Born in Massachusetts, she graduated with honors from Weymouth High School.  Although she was awarded a scholarship to a prestigious college, her father was gravely ill upon her graduation, so to help support her family she started her career as a linotype operator for a local newspaper, operating the huge machine that fed hot lead to set type (as seen in “The Post,” a favorite movie).  She was the first female linotype operator in Massachusetts and one of the first in the country.

From the time of her youth, Ms. Bryson had a fascination with China, its people and culture.  She developed expertise on Chinese porcelains as a lifelong member of the Oriental Ceramic Society and as a friend of the late Dr. H.A. Crosby Forbes, then-curator of the Museum of the American China Trade in Milton, MA (now part of the Peabody Essex Museum).  Raising her six children in a military family, she traveled to all 50 states and Europe.  She later served as a public relations representative for a national travel company, and over the years she took thousands of people on trips around the world, visiting all seven continents, including Antarctica.  She traveled to China twenty-four times, often leading delegations that included government officials and sometimes serving as a liaison between cultures.  She also sponsored attorney Tang Jiaodong, her dear Chinese friend who accompanied her on many of these trips in China, when he successfully applied to attend graduate school at the University of Hawaii.

After moving to the Silverdale area in 1966, Natalie opened her business, Antiques & Epicure, and she turned her attention to service in the local community.  She had 50-plus years of continuous membership in the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce and was the first woman admitted to full membership in the Silverdale Rotary, where she helped support and often initiate charitable activities.  In the 1990’s, she joined the Kitsap County HIV/AIDS Foundation, taking over as President when the organization had only $31 in the bank.  Working from her dining room table, she garnered increasing support and donations, which resulted in financial grants to individuals and institutions.  In 2008, the Pride Foundation honored her with its Community Treasure Award for her support of LGBTQ individuals and for her work on issues related to HIV/AIDS.

Natalie was a long-time supporter of Olympic College, which several of her children attended, and where she served both as an instructor and as a fundraiser for the OC Foundation.   She was also an active member of the U.S. Navy League, the World Affairs Council, the Washington State China Relations Council, the University of London’s Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, the Seattle Pride Foundation, and the Asian Art Museum.  

In the late 1980’s, Natalie founded the Paul Linder Educational Foundation in honor of the former Central Kitsap School Superintendent.  As Foundation President and later in other capacities, she spearheaded raising funds for to underwrite grants of more than $200,000 for students and staff to pursue educational excellence.  Among many other grants, these efforts resulted in ensuring that every third-grader in the Central Kitsap schools receives a dictionary, and, with support of the Silverdale Rotary, that maps in the Central Kitsap schools were upgraded.

Natalie received many awards and accolades, including being named 2002 Woman of Achievement by the YWCA of Kitsap County; receiving the 2018 Certificate of Merit from the Washington Association of School Administrators, in recognition of outstanding community leadership and service to education and the young people of Washington; and being inducted into the Kitsap Mental Health Services’ Silver Rose Society for her support of mental health and anti-suicide campaigns.  She was also awarded the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kitsap County Council for Human Rights; the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kitsap County Democrats; and being named Washingtonian of the Day by Governor Jay Inslee.  She was also a member of the Elizabeth Ellington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and she gave a lecture to that Chapter on the Abigail Adams Historical Society, which was founded by her mother, Amy Hill Duncan (www.abigailadamsbirthplace.com).

She is survived by her children – Elizabeth A. Bryson (Theodore Peterson) of New York City; M Amelia Taylor (David) of Santa Barbara, California; William MacLean Bryson, Jr.  (Sheri) of Silverdale, Washington; and Rebecca J. Bryson (Fred Marchand) of Bellingham, Washington; by her granddaughters and grandson – Amy R. Curtis (Ben Riemer) of Portland, Oregon; Sarah G. Chamberlain (Jeffrey) of Seattle, Washington; Elizabeth H. Curtis (Eric Valenzuela) of Los Angeles, California; Madison D. Taylor of Chicago, Illinois; and Jonathan L.B. Peterson (Gabriela Kogut) of New York City; by four great-grandchildren: AidenIsaac and TeslaAnne Curtis, and Sadie and Keane Chamberlain; by her sister Muriel Anne Standley (Richard) of Springfield, Ohio; sisters-in-law Jennabell Duncan and Patricia Ludy; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.  She was preceded in death by her sons, David Duncan Bryson and James Hill Bryson; her parents, Amy L. (Hill) and Harry Follett Duncan of Weymouth, Massachusetts; and her brothers, Robert E. Duncan, and William E. Duncan.

The family thanks everyone who loved Ms. Bryson and showered her with kindness.  This includes the doctors and staff at Virginia Mason Medical Center (Seattle), Virginia Mason Clinic (Bainbridge Island), the U.S. Naval Hospital (Bremerton) and Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue.  The family especially thanks her dear friends around the world for their affection and thoughtfulness, and the “Golden Girls” with whom she shared a love of playing cards and comradery for many decades.  She loved you all.

Condolences and remembrances may be sent to the family at P.O. Box 2000, Silverdale WA 98383. 

Should donations be made, Natalie supported many charities, including the Paul Linder Educational Foundation, the Pride Foundation, the Silverdale Rotary Club Foundation, the Olympic College Foundation, the Foundation for the Virginia Mason Medical Center.  Details about these about these charities and additional photos and information about Natalie’s life can be found on the home page of nataliebryson.org.

Burial will be private.  A Celebration of Life will be held will be held on Sunday, July 8, 2018, at 2 p.m., at Klahowya Secondary School, 7607 NW Newberry Hill Road, Silverdale, WA 98383.