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Jean Bryar Obituary

March 11, 1925 - May 31, 2012

Provided by E Cliff via SDC Talk ForumJean Bryar

On behalf of the Bryar family, and at the request of Danae Bryar, it is with great sadness that I report the passing of Keith's mother Jean. She passed on Thursday, 5/31 in Florida where she has long resided.

Older members of our community might remember her, but for those who do not, she was the force behind two very successful open mushers from the Northeast, Keith Bryar and Dick Moulton. When not training the dogs while the men carried on with their real jobs, she was also busy giving sled rides or horse drawn wagon rides in popular tourist spots in the White Mountains. She once drove a dog team to the top of Mount Washington, and described the 8 miles of steep descending trail from the top, along with its many sheer drop-offs, as more "challenging" than making it to the top.

Never one to take on the big Open class races herself, she nonetheless took part in and won the 1962 Women's North American on one of her and Keith's trip to Alaska. She was the first woman from the lower 48 to win the women's event.

Later in life her love of horses led her to take up ownership of harness racers, and she became very successful with an equally attentive eye toward horses that saw her claim many successful animals.

She also had a jack russell that she loved dearly. Upon my first meeting "Puzzle", Jean explained that he was not the best trained dog she ever had, but that was just the way she liked him. She'd trained enough dogs in her life, and she reveled in his sheer exuberance.

Words that came to mind when describing her include; competitive, brave, bold, determined and hardworking. She was also very intelligent, quick witted, and very opinionated. One knew where they stood with Jean, and if you didn't know, then you just didn't get it!

Danae called her a fascinating woman, classy with a Jackie Onassis sense of style. She had a taste for finer things, like designer shoes, fine antiques, old books, exquisite chocolate, cookies and ice cream. Until recently she enjoyed driving her "Jag", a car that embodied the kind of woman she was in life.

She was a proud woman with a great smile. A picture on her wall was hard to resist, it was a young and beautiful Jean, perfectly presented, and sitting next to Johnny Carson on his show with one of her dogs. She could have been any movie star of the day. She was a great ambassador of our sport.

She is survived by her loving son Keith, and his children Julie, Lindsey, and Andrew, who she loved dearly. "Great Aunt Jean" was also an inspiration to Danae's daughters, Brittany and Rachael, who have carried on her love and talent for sleddog racing.

Calling hours will be Thursday evening, 6/7, between 5-8pm at the Wilkinson Beane funeral home. Funeral services will be at 11am on Friday, 6/8, with a celebration of her life to follow at the home of her son, Keith.

From the
Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home web site:

Pompano Beach, Florida---Jean Bryar, 87, of Pompano Beach, Florida, died on Thursday, May 31, 2012.
Jean Bryar was born March 11, 1925 in New York, New York, the daughter of David E. and Emily (Cushman) McFarlane. She resided in the Meredith area for fifty years before moving to Florida ten years ago. She had been employed as a realtor for over forty years in the Lakes Region.

In the 1960s and 70s, the Bryar name was a familiar and respected one in the sled dog world spanning across the North American continent. This came about as the result of Jean’s contribution to the great success of the Bryar racing teams, housed at Norvik Kennels in Center Harbor, N.H., which dominated some of the toughest competitions in North America. Her attention to detail and talent of selecting which dogs would be hitched to the sled contributed to the top finishes in major regional and national events, including Laconia’s World Championship Derby. In 1962 Jean was the first woman from outside Alaska to win the Women’s North American Championship in Fairbanks, which she did six more times in her career. The Bryar lead dogs are famous in the history of the sport, including Kimmie, a border collie who was originally employed as a herding cow dog and Brandy, an Alaskan husky brought home following their runs on the Alaska racing trails.

Jean was a member of the New England Sled Dog Club and the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club, which promoted the World Championship Derby. She was also a founder of the International Sled Dog Racing Association, created in 1966 to encourage uniform race rules and procedures throughout the world. She was an enthusiastic promoter of sled dogs and made an appearance with one of her dogs on the late Johnny Carson’ s “Tonight” television show.

Harness horse racing was another special passion in Jean’s life. While living in New Hampshire, she maintained horses at Laconia’s Bolduc Park and ran them successfully in harness races at the Salem, New Hampshire track. In Florida she stayed deeply involved with harness racing, owning several horses, holding official titles, and being an advocate for both horses and those who take care of them. Her dedication to the sport was recognized earlier this year with a lifetime achievement award from the United States Harness Writers Association.

Survivors include a son, Keith Bryar II; three grandchildren, Julie Bryar Porter and her husband, Dave, Lindsay Bliznik and her husband, Steve, and Andrew K. Bryar; one great grandchild, Cooper E. Bliznik; her twin sister, Constance Barton, a brother, David F. McFarlane; one nephew and two nieces. Mrs. Bryar was predeceased by her parents and by a brother, Larry McFarlane. Jean will be lovingly remembered and dearly missed by all.

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, June 7, 2012 from 5:00-8:00PM in the Carriage House of the Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home, 164 Pleasant Street, Laconia, N.H.

A Funeral Service will be held on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:00AM also at the Funeral Home.

Burial will follow in Oakland Cemetery, Meredith Center, N.H. A reception to honor Jean will be held after the burial at the Bryar residence, 11 Old Mountain Road, Moultonborough, N.H. All are welcomed at attend.

For those who wish, memorial donations may be made to the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club, PO Box 341, Laconia, NH 03247.

Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 164 Pleasant Street, Laconia, N.H. is assisting the family with the arrangements. For more information and to view an online memorial go to

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