Bryan retires as Thorsby principal

Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2017

When Thorsby High School arrived back to school after the Christmas break, there was something clearly different.

It was the absence of Russ Bryan, following his retirement after 15 years as principal at Thorsby.

Prior to taking over the position of principal, Bryan spent three years as an assistant principal and also served as a football coach his first year.

Thorsby assistant principal Tim Fortner has seen Bryan’s ability as a leader first hand after spending 11 years as his assistant principal.

“He had the ability to stay calm when most people are ready to explode,” Fortner said. “He remained professional all the time, regardless of the circumstance or situation. I have always tried to emulate that.”

According to Fortner, Bryan did just about everything during his time at the school, such as coaching, driving a bus and helping pour concrete.

“You name it and he did it during his time here,” Fortner said. “He was hands on and made sure things got done.”

Bryan certainly affected a lot of people associated with Thorsby over the years, from teachers to students alike.

Eighteen years is a long time in any profession and speaks to the passion that Bryan had for the job and the affinity that was established between him and the Thorsby community.

According to Fortner, Bryan was at the school for so long that when he was first hired he was principal over teachers that taught him and in the later years was interviewing former students for a possible job at the school.

Bryan grew up in Thorsby after his family moved to town in 1975.

He attended Thorsby throughout middle and high school, graduated in 1982 and eventually attended the University of Montevallo where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education and a Masters Degree in Educational Administration.

He taught and coached at Jemison High School from 1991 to 1997 before coming back to Thorsby as a member of the staff.

Bryan was married to Wendy Forrest Bryan for 28 years until she passed away from breast cancer in 2015.

She was also a Thorsby alum and an elementary school teacher for 21 years.

“You will be hard pressed to find someone who would give a bad word about him [Bryan],” Fortner said.