Denise Bryant (a.k.a. “Niecie”), 65, of Englewood Florida, passed away February 20, 2021, after a courageous battle with advanced cancer, diagnosed in October 2018. Born in Bradenton, Florida, as a fifth generation native Floridian, Denise grew up in the Venice area. She graduated from Venice High School in 1974.
Denise was a “do-er”, who poured her heart into everything that she did for her family. She loved working on home renovation projects alongside her treasured husband of 44 years, Sam. Over the last 28 years, Sam and Denise built a beautiful home, full of unique collections handsomely displayed by Sam’s wood working. They curated a magnificent tropical garden where their grandchildren, Isla and Will, loved to play. She was most at peace when working alongside Sam or bopping around finding treasures for the next projects with her daughter Ashlea. On quiet days, before Sam retired, Denise would work through the backlog of stockpiled projects, from refinishing antique furniture to creating elaborate needlework that are now showcased in their home.
Denise was an animal lover from the beginning. She showed horses in her youth and later loved working with horses at Woodmere Farms. Vince Rocket Bar was hands down her favorite. In recent years, she would take long early morning walks down Manasota Key with her dogs Idgie and Zac, where they loved to spot wildlife. Manatees and eagles were among her favorites finds; coyotes were frequent foes. Idgie passed away in 2020, but her beloved dog Zac remained by her bedside until the very end.
Denise also loved to walk the beach collecting shells and fossils with her family. Her son-in-law, Tim, would try to compete to see who could find the biggest/best shark tooth. Denise typically remained the victor.
Niecie’s house was home to nearly all of the family celebrations over the years and Denise was such an outgoing hostess. She was also a legendary baker, with many renowned recipes that she had composed over the years and would provide to any who inquired. She, of course, had a full digital copy available for efficient distribution. Her grandchildren knew that anything their Niecie baked was going to be superb.
She held many jobs over the years, from laying tile in pools in the peak of the Florida heat with her brother George Dabbert, to delivering flowers across the Venice area with Ann’s Flowers. For over 20 years she worked at PGT, handling customer pick-ups, until the recession hit in 2008. She was then able to focus on family and her home projects full-time – and boy did she! The words “crafting” and “DIY” do not do her work justice; she was a true craftsman in all that she did.
Denise was a notorious “neat freak”, with exceptional organization habits and an extensive collection of exotic cleaning supplies. Each year she would save her credit card points for a shopping spree with Ashlea to The Container Store and the chance to re-organize some part of her beautiful home. Even during her final days when she was no longer able to stand, after the family had commenced post dinner clean-up duties, she would beg for someone to bring her into the kitchen and proceed to provide a full assessment of areas of improvement.
The family sends a prayer to everyone reading this: that you all may find someone as perfect for you as Denise and Sam were for each other. Witnessing their love through these trying times has been one of the greatest gifts for us all. Also, noteworthy: without Denise’s auto-recall of family dates/events/names none of us can be sure that the contents of this obituary are 100% accurate. Fingers crossed we got it close enough.
Denise leaves behind many who will remain in awe of her relentless spirit. She is survived her husband Sam Bryant, daughter Ashlea Frost, son-in-law Tim Frost, her adored grandchildren Isla and Will Frost, her mother Betty Dabbert, her mother-in-law Linda Bryant, and many cherished siblings (George and Inita Dabbert; JoEllen and Frank Whipple; Carol and Eric Nickell; David and Diane Bryant; and Frank Barnett). Denise will now be joining two of her favorite people: her father Roy Dabbert and her sister Beverly Barnett.
The family will schedule a Celebration of Life at a later date when they feel it is safe to do so. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation (https://donate.lungcancerresearchfoundation.org ). Lung cancer, a notoriously underfunded cancer, kills more people each year than any other form of cancer, and like Denise, 20% of those killed each year are “never smokers”.
Denise was a beautiful person, as was everything she touched. Lord knows we could use more Denises in this world.