Walter Dean Bryan, 86, of Abilene passed from this earth to his heavenly home, on Friday, March 6, 2020. Visitation with the family will be from 5:30 to 7:00 pm on Monday evening March 9th at The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road. A Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, March 10th at 2:00 pm in the First United Methodist Church on Butternut Street in Abilene, TX. The service will be officiated by Pastor Scott Seymour. A private graveside service officiated by Guy Irvin will precede the Celebration of Life. Walter was born in Olney, Texas on December 23, 1933 to Guy and Jewel Bryan. Walter lived in Olney throughout his childhood and teenage years. It was from that small town that he, supported by his parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins, cultivated his adoration of the outdoors and ingrained the love of family into his character. After graduation from Olney High School, Walter attended Tarleton State University on a football scholarship. From Tarleton, he went on to play football and run track at Texas Tech University where he met, and later married, the love of his life, Shirley Herrington. His football career continued upon graduation, as Walter was drafted and played in the NFL for the Baltimore (Indianapolis) Colts in 1955. The following year, he married Shirley and began the journey of coaching high school football. After several years he entered into school administration. His career in public education took him throughout the state of Texas with the final destination being in Abilene, as the Assistant Superintendent of the Abilene Independent School District. Walter served AISD until he retired from the Texas public school system in 1987. After retirement, Walter remained active in education through the Abilene chapter of Texas Retired Teachers Association in which he held office at local, district and state levels. Walter relished being outdoors, alone or with friends, especially if competitions were involved. Whether golfing, hunting, fishing, tending his garden, caring for the yard, or sitting on the back porch with Shirley in the evening, he was never happier than when he was out of doors appreciating God's magnificent creations. In private life, Walter was all about spending time with family. He found great joy in traveling with Shirley and vacationing with his family. Additionally, he delighted in traveling to watch any of his four grandchildren participate in their school or community events where he became their biggest fan. Walter cherished his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as unmistakably his most important priority and his deepest love on this earth. Those who knew Walter (Dad or Granddad) considered him as someone who could always be trusted and counted on in any situation. His leadership, loyalty, common sense approach, humor, and positive outlook will be sorely missed by the many who loved him. Walter is survived by his wife of 64 years, Shirley of Abilene; his son, Steve and wife Christi Bryan of Luling; his daughter Leigh Ann Bender and husband Gary of Waco. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Jo Smith and husband, Andy of Llano, TX. Grandkids: Adam and Rachael Bender of Ft. Worth, Aaron Bender of Waco, Morgan and Zach Marberry of Katy, and Gentry Bryan of Katy. Great-grandchildren: Graham, Grayson, and Grady Bender; Emersyn Marberry. Honorary pallbearers will be Steve Bryan, Gary Bender, Adam Bender, Aaron Bender, and Zach Marberry. For the past 42 years, Walter, along with Shirley, became very active members of the First United Methodist Church, where he also volunteered weekly in the Methodist Food Pantry. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the First United Methodist Church of Abilene, the Methodist Food Pantry of Abilene, or to a charity of choice. The family wishes to extend genuine thanks to all the Visiting Angels who faithfully attended to Walter these many months; you are forever in our hearts. Sincere thanks are also extended to Big Country Hospice for their compassionate care and support.