It is with profound sadness the Michigan Chronicle announces the passing of our colleague Lester Bryant. Our staff joins mourners across the city to say a final farewell to our great friend Lester, who passed away on Tuesday, April 18 in Detroit. Bryant was 71 years old.
Bryant, beloved by co-workers and friends and well respected among his peers, enjoyed an immensely successful 28-year career with the newspaper, before retiring to Florida in February of 2016.
Bryant was beloved by loyal clients for his stellar service which he applied universally from Fortune 500 companies to small business owners.
The spirited advertising executive and avid golfer relocated to Florida with his wife and family, but his unrelenting work ethic and his determination to remain active in the community, brought him home to Detroit on many occasions to following his passion, selling.
Bryant, who delivered the Michigan Chronicle (and Jet magazine) as a nine-year-old boy in Black Bottom, was widely and affectionately known as one of the publication’s “most valued players.” The popular Bryant, revered by his peers for his commitment to the profession and sense of responsibility to the Detroit community, expressed that it is a bittersweet parting as he moves on to pursue greener grass, i.e., the links.
In an interview prior to his retirement, Bryant discussed his history with the Michigan Chronicle and his civic ties.
“I’ve loved every moment of working (at the Chronicle). Most of the time it was more fun than work. I’ll miss the people, but (publisher Hiram Jackson) and I are keeping the door open for me to continue my involvement and contributions to the paper,” said Bryant.
“Lester Bryant’s contributions have been invaluable to the Michigan Chronicle. His expertise, experience and professionalism have been a positive influence on the company and me over these many years I’ve known him. We wish him nothing but the best, and we look forward to hearing about his future adventures,” said Michigan Chronicle Publisher Hiram. H. Jackson.
The avid golfer, who boasts a handicap of 10, will continue the tradition of “the meeting on the golf course” he fostered during legendary publisher’s Sam Logan’s administration.
“I met Sam Logan in a 7-Eleven in Wayne Michigan. He hired me as director of circulation, but that only lasted about six months before he decided I was better suited for selling advertising,” said Bryant. Neither of them regretted the career change, as Bryant proved to be an exceptional salesman with a special quality for connecting with members of the Detroit business community.
“I hope along the journey of 40 years in the business, I’ve been able to help some folks understand what it’s like to promote a Black newspaper, and provide the type of content that the Black community can only get from us,” explained Bryant. “We’re not the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press. We have to stay in close contact with the community and keep our finger on the pulse of their needs. We have to continue to take care of the community. That’s why I call myself a community salesman.”
Bryant, the father of two, daughter Elana, an attorney in Lynthia, Florida, and son Kaleb, a civil engineer in Missouri City, Texas, says he will continue his civic and philanthropic commitments in Detroit which include the Detroit Branch NAACP and the Urban League, but he looks forward to joining wife Pauline in Florida to settle into their new home.
“Change is sometimes difficult for folks, but it’s also good. The Michigan Chronicle has gone from being one newspaper to being part of a multimedia corporation (Real Times Media) with properties all over the country,” said Bryant. “The way forward is to concentrate on young people and put our energies into their futures as we are doing with our partnership with Talmer Bank to promote education and employment.”
And as the adage goes, salesmen never really retire, they just go out of commission.
“I won’t ever be completely gone from here. I’ve been calling in here and talking to (receptionist) Pauline Leatherwood for 28 years. I may just keep calling, for the heck of it,” Bryant quipped.
But the venerable salesman, who has been part of the underpinning of the Michigan Chronicle sales department, says he has plenty to look forward to as he embarks on the next chapter of his life and work in Florida.
“I fully expect that this next chapter is going to be good, very good,” Bryant concluded.