Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

October 25, 2013

Glenalma Rodgers Bryant Niedzielski

Corsicana Daily Sun

— Glenalma Rodgers Bryant Niedzielski was born on Sept. 8, 1924, to James Glenn Rodgers, an oil drilling contractor, and J. Lorena Burke Rodgers. She died Oct. 22, 2013 in Dallas. Services are at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at Corley Funeral Home in Corsicana. She will be buried in the Post Oak Cemetery in Roane, Texas.

As the oil industry opened in East Texas, Lorena and Glenn moved east with the oil discoveries to the oil fields there and were actively involved in the development of the fields in Anderson, Cherokee, Eastland, Nacogdoches, Gregg,  Marion, Montague, Navarro, Limestone, Freestone, Henderson, Van Zandt, Yoakum, and Rusk counties. Glenalma was left with her grandmother Bessie Lorena Evans Burke and her aunt Martha Alma Burke in Corsicana during the time they were in Longview and further East Texas. The living conditions in those times were very rough and the fear of losing their daughter to disease was great.

As the oil industry moved further east into Louisiana, Glenalma went with her parents and graduated from high school in Lafayette, La. at the age of 16. From there she went to Miss Hockaday’s School for Girls in Dallas. Glenalma was a gifted singer and studied opera with Ivan Denaproff, who was the voice master for Czar Nicholas’s opera in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was brought to the USA by Miss Hockaday to be the instructor for her students. She sang her first opera at the tender age of 17 at Hockaday.

She met John Neal Bryant in Corsicana, Texas when she was 16 on a double date and they fell in love. He was an engineering student Texas A&M in College Station, a member of the corps, and yell leader. John Neal Bryant was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy in 1941 and was an ensign at the time of their marriage on February 2,1942. They were sent to Alameda, Calif., and spent time there before he was sent to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was a flight instructor at the Naval Air Station there for the duration of World War II. In 1944, their daughter, Pamela, was born in Corpus Christi.

After WWII Neal left the Navy and went into the furniture-making business in Corsicana. From 1945 to 1951 he and Glenalma lived and worked in Corsicana. She employed her needle work skills making beautiful Christmas stockings and embellished garments for Neiman Marcus in Dallas as well as being a fashion model for Neiman’s. By this time Pam was 4 and was taught by Glenalma to be a fashion model.

 Neal was recalled to the Navy during the Korean conflict in 1951. Neal, Glenalma and Pam went to Great Lakes, Mich. where Neal was trained as an intelligence officer. From there, they were sent to San Diego, Calif., where Neal was attached to the Kenneth Whiting, a sea plane tender. He went to sea the first time for nine months in the Pacific.

Glenalma and daughter Pam returned to Corsicana and lived with Glenalma’s mother and father during his deployment. She worked as an insurance agent during this time for an insurance company in Corsicana, and as a fashion model for Neiman Marcus.

When Neal returned from his tour on the Kenneth Whiting, Glenalma and Pam returned to San Diego to be with him until he was reassigned. His next tour of duty was as a pilot with an AD squadron in Coronado, Calif. He was deployed for nine months on the USS Essex, a Naval Carrier. Glenalma continued to model at the Del Coronado Hotel and other lovely venues during these years. As a 5’8” tall, slender beauty with dark hair and lovely brown eyes she could carry off most all fashion styles with flair and class.

When Neal returned home he was in Coronado for another nine months before he was deployed again on the Essex for the second tour of nine months as  a squadron commander on the same ship. As the CO’s wife, Glenalma was the liaison between the families and the Navy, making sure their medical, financial and emotional needs were met.

He returned in 1955 and was reassigned as the CO of the Naval and Marine training Center in Salem, Ore. Again, Glenalma took on the job of caring for the needs of all the families of the enlisted men as well as the officers and modeling for Myer and Frank, a department store with stores in Salem and Portland, Ore.

Neal was in Salem from 1955 to 1958, from there he was transferred to Glenview Naval Air Station in Glenview Illinois and placed on the CNESTERA staff.  In June 1961 he went to Norfolk Naval Air Station and he was on the COM NAV AIR LANT staff during the Cuban crisis. In 1964, Neal was transferred to his last assignment for the US Navy as the Commanding Officer of the Naval and Marine training Center in Ft. Worth, Texas where he retired from the Navy as a Commander.

Glenalma was always at his side serving as his executive officer, keeping his home and social life lively and loving. She was a “great partner in both marriage and career.” They had always maintained a woodworking shop and transported Neal’s woodworking machinery over the course of their Naval career.

When he retired from the Navy in 1968, the couple bought property in Newark, Texas, and built a 3,500 sq. ft. woodworking shop they lived in while they built their home on the property. They built the home together with their own hands and worked together as a team in Neal’s furniture building and restoration business.

Glenalma learned the art of restoration of fine lacquer furniture, chinoiserie, Chin Ling, Marquetry, and Cormandle. She was an accomplished needle woman doing fine needlepoint, crewel embroidery, garment making, and knitting. She enjoyed entertaining and was a charming hostess. She was also an accomplished hunter, angler and horsewoman, as well as a great camper and general all around “good sport.”

Neal died in 1986 from heart disease.

In 1988 Glenalma married Cdr. Clifford Thomas Niedzielski, USN Retired. “Skee” and his wife, who had died shortly after Neal’s death, had been great friends with Neal and Glenalma for over 40 years in the Navy and then after retirement. At the time they married his home was in Estepona, Spain. Glenalma and Skee enjoy traveling the world and building orphanages, schools, and hospitals for children in third world countries including India and Africa.

In the mid ‘90s, they returned to the US and lived in Glenalma’s home in Newark until he died in 2003.

Glenalma lived in her home in Newark until 2010 when she moved to her daughter Pamela Burke’s ranch in Eustace, Texas.

She was preceded in death by her parents and husbands. She is survived by her daughter, Pamela Burke; grandchildren John Wood, Melissa Haldeman and husband, Britton, Bonnie Karstedt, and husband John; great-grandchildren, Lauren Haldeman and Madelyn Karstedt; niece Cathy Mandell and husband John Mandell; and many cousins, great-nieces, -nephews and friends.

She was a delight to all who knew her, with a great sense of humor, sweet demeanor, wonderful sense of humor, always had the right stories, loved to laugh. Warm, funny, witty, loved her family dearly and her “bling.” She was a true lady, occasionally a ribald lady, but a lady always. Her passion for life that was contagious and she loved a good time with friends, family, and great food. She imparted a need to her child and grandchildren for a good education, great food, and an open mind. She was a real “MAME” but known by all who knew her as “Lovie.”

Arrangements by Corley Funeral Home, Corsicana.