Mary Agnes Cullen Bryan, age 73, quietly slipped away in the early hours of September 6th, 2022, in her home filled with her family. Mary was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 22nd, 1948 to the late Frank Xavier and Irene Anne (Snyder) Cullen, the second oldest of eight children, and attended St. Gregory School in Detroit for twelve years. Mary never sought grand adventures, yet they often found her. She worked as a telephone operator and, ever a woman before her time, was promoted as one of the first female telephone installers at Michigan Bell, serving as a union steward as well. Mary went on to run a daycare out of her home (“Mary’s Little Lambs”), worked for Community of Mental Health, volunteered in the community, and “retired” after being a nanny and trained doula, still staying in touch with many of her former wards. She is the cultivator of a home garden that has slowly sprawled out into the front and side yards, a testament to her green thumb, and hosted the Right To Life flower sale for many years. Mary had a life full of wondrous experiences and she truly embodied her favorite saying, “you don’t have to die to have many lives.”
Mary thought of herself as a “taster of life.” In her young adulthood, she spent many of her nights dancing and singing along to traditional Irish tunes at The Gaelic League/Irish-American Club of Detroit and traveled to Hawaii, Ireland, Disney World, and took road trips out west – often bringing a sibling or cousin along for the ride. Mary lived through the Detroit Riots, the Blizzard of 1974, and numerous recessions and pandemics. She had a thousand stories, yet none are precisely about her, instead are about the people she knew in her life. She recalled details of distant cousins and long lost ancestors, wild antics of the 1970s phone company, and obscure old films and songs lost to the sands of time. Mary was a weaver of stories, tales which jumped through time, connected to other tangential anecdotes, yet always wound up back where they started.
Mary met her husband, Bill, of nearly 40 years of marriage (married on September 25th, 1982) while working at Michigan Bell. Mary and Bill had four children and faced many trials together, including Bill’s head injury and their children’s many health issues, yet those difficulties made their love and their family stronger. Mary’s example of how she lived her life showed others that they could also be “tasters of life,” that you need only be open and willing to live a beautiful and wonderful life. Mary’s husband Bill, and her children – Peter, Kate, Moira, Delia – are testaments to her life and how she lived – and her stories will live on through them. Mary is the example for her husband and children’s myriad adventures through life.
Mary is survived by her loving and devoted husband of nearly 40 years, William Bryan; her children, Peter Bryan (Brittany), Kate Milligan (Joe), Moira Singh (Pushpinder), and Delia Bryan (Jay); her siblings Chris Cullen (Lynda), Collette Cullen, Frank Cullen, Gabrielle Cullen (Billy), Rebecca Cullen (Harvey), and John Cullen (Moira); her godchildren Justin Cullen (Tammy) and Katherine Cullen; over a dozen nieces and nephews, an aunt and an uncle, and over one hundred first cousins; and her two special friends Benjamin Feinberg and LeeAnn Lasswell. She was preceded in death by her parents Frank and Irene, and her brother Joseph Cullen.
The visitation will be held at Keehn-Griffin Funeral Home, 706 W. Main St. (W. of Grand River), Brighton MI, on Monday September 12th from 1-8pm, and the funeral will be held at St. Patrick’s Church, 711 Rickett Rd. (W. of Grand River) in Brighton, on Tuesday September 13th 10:30am.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are requested to be made to St. Patrick Catholic Parish, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Protect Life Michigan and Leader Dogs for the Blind.