Final respects paid to long time local pastor

Many traveled to Jonesboro to pay their final respects and celebrate the life of Rev. Roosevelt Bryant Jr. Bryant, a New Orleans native, was the pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Jonesboro for 22 years.

Esther Robinson, who grew up in the church, said Rev. Bryant was more than a pastor. He was a second father to her.

“He took on the role of a daddy in that he was so caring, compassionate, and loving. He was very protective of me and concerned if he felt I was being mistreated. He was very easy to talk to and gave great advice,” she said.

Many of his members say his last sermon, preached on November 10, 2013, was one of his most memorable. The subject of the sermon was “Remain in Me.” To honor him, members of his congregation have adopted his sermon highlights “Fret Not, Fear Not, Faint Not and Forget Not” as their year’s theme.  

His wife of 48 years, Emma Jean Cannon Bryant, said he was a fantastic husband to her and a fantastic father to her children. “He always wanted the best for them and was a great provider. When my daughter came home from the hospital, she slept on her daddy’s chest. He got up in the middle of the night and fixed bottles and changed diapers.”

After seeing a picture in the newspaper featuring a pastor’s widow being thrown out of a parsonage, Bryant built his family a home in Grambling.
What she and others remember about him is that he was somewhat of a perfectionist who liked to be prepared.
“He always believed in preparing himself. Whenever there was something for him to do he was well prepared. He was a hard, hard worker and very particular,” She said.

For more than 60 years Bryant preached the word of God. He preached his first sermon at the age of 14 and at 18 became the pastor of the Little Zion Baptist Church in New Orleans.

Also, he served as pastor at the Mayflower Institutional Baptist Church in Detroit and Grambling’s New Rocky Valley Baptist Church. Bryant organized and was the first dean of the Congress of Christian Education for the Louisiana Baptist State Convention. He held many positions when he passed away.
Bryant also inspired countless others as an educator. In 1964 he was employed as a teacher with the Orleans Parish System. Other places where he taught included Union Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans; Detroit Public School System; Project Upward Bound, Grambling State University and Monroe City School.

His wife said Rev. Bryant taught children and brought the best out of them. When he was in New Orleans, he taught underprivileged children. However, many of them were good artists. Through Bryant’s tutelage, many of them attended Dillard University and had their work displayed.
In 1992, he became the assistant principal of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Monroe, and from 2001 until his retirement in 2005, he served as principal of Jonesboro-Hodge Middle School.

Bryant’s eife said he was an advocate for young people. He loved children and wanted the best for them. The first and fourth Sundays were Youth Sunday at his church.

“He admonished them to do their best and talked about growing up in the Calliope Projects to let them know that it did not matter where they came from, they could be whatever they wanted to,” she said.

“The children of the church are hurt. Five of them are graduating, and they were looking forward to seeing him at graduation,” said Mrs. Bryant.

As a testament to his hard work, dedication and love for others, Rev. Bryant’s family received numerous floral arrangements, plants, cards and resolutions. Mrs. Bryant said, “People have been so kind and nice to us in every respect.”