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Aretha Bryant
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Obituary for Aretha Bryant

Aretha L. Bryant, age 77, went to be with the Lord on February 20, 2018. She was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 30, 1940 to Walker Jack Ridley and Emma Lou Ridley. She graduated from East High School and retired from Mt Carmel West Hospital after 25 years of service. She loved to travel with her husband and enjoyed family vacations with her children and extended family and friends.

Aretha served with her husband as mentors for married couples and were Co-Leaders for the “Seniors on the Move” ministry at New Covenant Believers’ Church. She always demonstrated the love of Christ through her life style. She co-founded the “Women of Purpose” Friday prayer group, and participated in monthly meetings until her illness hindered her from attending. Aretha had an infectious spirit that others were drawn to. She was fun, friendly and never met a stranger. She enjoyed serving and being with her friends. She was a great caregiver, visited the sick, sent cards, notes, text messages and accompanied friends to doctor and dentist appointments and court appearances when needed. She loved to talk on the phone; go to thrift stores, Goodwill stores and yard sales; organize games; and read the Bible in her quiet time. She was the life of any party and her smile would brighten up a room. She is best known for her famous, “Hi doll baby!” greeting. She touched many lives with her words of wisdom, laughter and humorous personality. She was warm, kind and tenderhearted to everyone she came in contact with. She will be deeply missed.

Her children have so many fond memories of her: Mom was the queen of so many things. Friends and family used her expertise for many different things. She would organize and decorate at the same time. While organizing Dana’s first apartment, she also organized his bills, clothes, kitchen and bathroom, while putting special touches of thrifty decorations to leave a little bit of herself. She also enjoyed keeping a clean house, was expert in laundry, and knew the best days to hit the thrift stores. She was a crafty cook through her daily use of MCL Cafeteria as a substitute for home-cooked meals. Most people took vacation from working and cleaning -- not Mom. Taking a good vacation for Mom was to travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to help Deedra clean her house. Dad would clean the kitchen from top to bottom and Mom would be on the ladder cleaning gutters, organizing the garage and washing piles of clothes. And she enjoyed every minute of it.
Mom had skills. She was a resourceful shopper; stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue were not her cup of tea. She enjoyed the challenge and outlet of finding the same item or close to it for less at a thrift store. And it wasn’t that she didn’t have the money. She would say, “don’t spend all that money, I have found something just like it and I hid it in the store until tomorrow when it’s blue tag day.” She was Rich’s personal shopper. He would give her $20 dollars and she would return with 5 shirts, 4 pair of pants and even a hat. One year, Regina took Dad to a Cleveland Browns game for her birthday, and when she returned mom had done a complete makeover to the bedroom. She had Rich to paint the walls on an early Sunday morning, and she brought a new comforter set, cleaned and organized her dresser, replaced her old pictures with new ones, and had a card on the bed saying, “Happy Birthday Regina!”

Donna’s earliest and fondest memory is when she was 16 years old: I came to Columbus to visit my dad after my parents divorced. This tall, slender lady picked me up in a station wagon full of kids, who were my siblings. As part of my welcome to Columbus, Aretha showed me a suitcase full of pictures and proceeded to introduce me to her life, the lives of my siblings and the life of my dad. Much to my surprise, she had pictures of my parents’ wedding day and spoke very kindly of my deceased mother. I knew then I was in the presence of a special lady.

Tonica’s fond memory is meeting Aretha for the first time at age 33: When I arrived at the house, the first thing she called me was “doll baby.” Coming from California, no one I knew ever used a term of endearment such as that. So I thought she was phony. As time went on, I realize that was just her way. I developed a relationship with her and I looked forward to our long conversations. She was kind and always had something positive to say about a person. My time would often be cut short because her phone was constantly ringing. I will miss our phone visits.

Mom was always thinking about others or what needed to be done, before thinking about herself. She was a loving wife, a good mother, the best sister and auntie, and a great friend. She was the glue that held our family together. Our hearts are heavy and we were sad to see her go. We had so many plans to spend time with Mom after Dad transitioned four months ago, and Grandma in December. But that wasn’t the plan of God for her life. And though we may not understand why, we rest in knowing she is no longer in pain, and is present with the Lord. Mom raised us to be close and to stay together, and we intend on honoring her request. We were blessed to have a mother like Mom. We know all of us will have to take our rest one day. So we won’t say goodbye, we say, “Good night, see you in the morning Mom. We love you!”

Aretha is preceded in death by her parents Walker Jack Ridley and Emma Lou Ridley; and loving husband of 53 years, Richard Bryant Sr. Left to cherish her memory are children Regina Bryant, Richard Bryant Jr., Dana (Crystal) Bryant, Deedra Bryant, Donna Williams (all of Columbus), and Tonica Bryant (of Rancho Cucamonga, CA); 7 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren; loving brothers and daughters in love Ralph (Susan) Ridley, Walker Bobby Ridley, and Gwen Ridley Davis; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

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Previous Events





10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
New Covenant Believers' Church

3400 Kohr Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43224

Funeral Service




11:30 AM
New Covenant Believers' Church

3400 Kohr Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43224

Floral deliveries will be received at Diehl-Whittaker Funeral service on Thursday, March 2, 2018 and at the church on Friday, March 2, 2018 starting at 9 am

Cemetery Details


Eastlawn Cemetery

1340 Woodland Avenue
Columbus, OH 43219


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