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Obituary: F. Jackson Bryce, Jr.


F. Jackson Bryce, Jr., 78, of St. Paul, MN, passed away peacefully on Dec. 12, 2022, after living valiantly with cancer the previous year; he was surrounded by the support of family, friends, hospice and nursing care.

Jack was born on Easter Sunday April 6, 1944, in Frederick, MD, the firstborn of the late Mary LaRue Arnold Thomas Bryce and Frank Jackson Bryce, Sr. When his father returned from serving in World War II, the family moved to Silver Spring, MD, where Jack was raised. He graduated high school from his beloved St. Anselm’s Abbey School, where he made a tight group of lifelong friends, and then from Catholic University, and Harvard University where he received his doctorate in Classical Studies and had a fabulous time as a Tutor at Adams House. Jack’s professional career was as a creative, energetic and hugely popular Classics professor at Carleton College for 40 years, after which he retired to St. Paul in 2012.

During his prolific years teaching at Carleton College, Jack was also a senior lecturer in bassoon and chamber music. He was named the David and Marian Adams Bryn-Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor of Classical Languages and the Humanities, and he retired as the Marjorie Crabb Garbisch Professor of Classical Languages and the Liberal Arts, Emeritus. Deeply devoted to his students, Jack helped generations of students to fall in love with Latin and Greek, and many more to have an edifying foundation of Roman and Greek history. Jack’s scholarly work centered on the early Christian writer Lactantius, and he authored the first definitive Lactantius bibliography. He was a member of the International Association of Patristic Studies, and regularly attended and presented at their conferences. Jack was a worldwide traveler, amassing photos of archeological and historical sites that he used in his classes. His travels included Greece, Italy, Turkey, France, Tunisia, Egypt and the United Kingdom. Jack spent many a happy summer researching in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

Jack was an enormously talented and versatile musician. He was a substitute bassoonist for the National Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16, which was just the start of his prodigious musical career. Jack was an inspired and accomplished bassoonist and contrabassoonist, and played throughout his life in many contexts from duets to woodwind quintets to chamber music to orchestras, including the Carleton Orchestra. In his retirement, Jack played in 19 regional orchestras. His dearest delight was playing chamber music with his friends from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. Jack also played piano and organ, sang and recorded with the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church at Oxford University, sang for over a dozen seasons with the St. Mark’s Cathedral Choral Society in Minneapolis, and conducted the choir of the Church of St. Dominic in Northfield, MN. He composed chants, music and songs. American composer Phillips Rhodes honored Jack with an original composition entitled Meditations upon Lactantius’ De Ave Phoenix for bassoon and harp. And to top it all off, Jack was an accomplished change ringer in a number of bell towers around Oxford.

Jack was a phenomenal cook, and regaled his friends and family with fantastic recipes for food and drink. In his younger days, he enjoyed canoeing in the Minnesota boundary waters, cross

country skiing, swimming in cold ocean water from Maine to the North Sea, and always enjoyed long walks. Spirituality was an essential part of Jack’s life, and he found a nurturing faith community at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church. Jack believed in a fair and just world for all people. An impressively avid reader, he devoured many genres from scholarly works to British sea tales and murder mysteries. While he was always ready for a bit of adventure and a good time, Jack mostly loved sumptuous meals, fine drink and good conversation with his friends and family. Jack’s warmth, good humor, erudite wit, kindness, compassion, hearty laugh and twinkly eyes won him hundreds of friends during his lifetime.

Jack will be dearly missed by his sister Barbara Bryce, her husband Tom Julius, and nephew Adrian Bryce Julius of Gilsum, NH; his nieces Esther Crompton and partner Jacob Aeschliman of Johnston, IA, and Emma Crompton Wheeler, her husband Jason Wheeler and grandniece Elsie Grace of Pawleys Island, SC; nephew Jackson Crompton, partner Kayla Watson, grandniece Maddie and grandnephews Timothy and Hudson of Ruby, SC; brother-in-law Bill Crompton of Hemingway, SC; as well as countless friends, former students, and fellow musicians. In addition to his parents, Jack was predeceased by his sister Joan Estelle Bryce Crompton.

A memorial celebration of life will be held sometime in the spring. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, or St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul, MN.

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