Once again, Best Funeral Home 2020: Bryan-Braker Funeral Home
Bryan-Braker Funeral home was selected once again, for over 15 continuous years, by Daily Republic readers as the Best Funeral Home on Solano County in the DR’s latest Readers’ Choice survey.
Bryan-Braker Featured in Vacaville Magazine as "Locally Owned" Business
Friday, June 1, 2018 to Saturday, June 30, 2018
Women Making a Difference 2017 Druding, Bryan help people say goodbye to loved onesBy Daily Republic staff From page WMD10 | March 12, 2017
FAIRFIELD — Army veteran Jhonny Druding looks at her career at Bryan-Braker Funeral Home as making a difference to Solano County families.
“It is another way to serve,” said Druding, a funeral director and embalmer, adding it is rewarding, “to see the family get closure and to have helped them get that closure.”
Druding describes her work preparing loved ones remains as “a scientific art” to best present the loved one in the way the family wishes.
She works with Jenna Bryan, Bryan-Braker’s operational manager, and the rest of the dedicated staff to make the difference with community members who have lost loved ones.
Druding, a Wisconsin native, had served six years as an Army military policeman, which included a tour in Afghanistan.
She decided to learn mortuary sciences after she attended the funeral for a friend who had died a traumatic death and was impressed with how well the body was cared for by the mortician.
After attending school in Sacramento, she had a two-year apprenticeship with Bryan-Braker, which ended in October.
“It is a huge honor to be that person who has the skills to help families reach closure,” Druding said.
“I love it,” Druding said of her work. “It is my passion and my art to give as much of my skills as possible to every family.”
Jenna Bryan is the third general of Bryans in the business since 1954. Her father told her the profession was a calling and she agrees.
“It is a wonderful platform to be of service to the people,” Jenna Bryan said.
She majored in communications in college and wanted to do something involving marketing or writing. It took her some time to decide to be part of the family business that provided a backdrop in her life as she grew up.
Jenna Bryan said the work is a team effort that involves everyone. She said she learned much about the business from watching her father and she still learns every day from the rest of the Bryan-Braker team.
Jenna Bryan recently returned to the area after 13 years and recently stepped up from funeral director to operational manager where she manages day-to-day operations at both the Fairfield and Vacaville locations.
She oversees the Fairmont Memorial Park where the firm has just opened to new mausoleums that offer both crypts and niches for interment of loved ones.
Bryan-Braker now sends representatives to the hospice program at Kaiser Permanente to talk with caregivers and medical personnel, sharing knowledge about how best to work with a culturally diverse community on preparing for memorial services.
Bryan said sharing such information is important to help people who face the loss of a loved one better prepare ahead of time before the loved one dies.
Both women said an important part of their work is to keep up with all the changes in the industry and to keep families educated about all the options available for sending off their loved ones.
“It is very important to keep a pulse on the community and know what they want,” Bryan said.
The reward for the work that Bryan and Druding does continues to be the letters and the thank yous that they get from families dropping by the funeral home afterward and when they run into them in the community.
Reach The Daily Republic newsroom at 425-4646.
Craig Bryan, owner of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, stands in the showroom of the company’s Fairfield location. (Daily Republic file)
Readers Choice 2017 Best Funeral Home 2017: Bryan-Braker Funeral Home
By Daily Republic staff From page REA36 | February 26, 2017
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home has served Solano County since 1954, building a relationship with families over multiple generations.
They finished a planned cemetery expansion this year and added two new mausoleum buildings.
“We have both single and double crypts,” said owner Craig Bryan.
This allows space for one person or a couple to share a resting space.
He said that Fairmont Memorial Park is the community’s premiere cemetery and with the advent of new technologies the funeral home has stayed abreast of the many changes.
For today’s modern family the latest technology allows them to create video tributes for loved ones, along with slideshows and more. Granite monuments can now be cut with a laser, which allows for unique and individual designs.
“The new technology means any color can be put on granite,” Bryan said.
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home also has a print shop, which gives them the ability to print specialized pamphlets to memorialize loved ones.
They help families with the process of creating a funeral that is memorable and a special farewell for those who have died.
In Fairfield: 1850 W. Texas St., 427-4697
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
In Vacaville: 615 Merchant St., 448-4900
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday by appointment
Runners-up: Fairfield Funeral Home, McCune Garden Chapel, Vaca Hills Chapel
Tree of Memories aims to exchange pain for peace
By Bill Hicks
From page A3 | December 16, 2016
FAIRFIELD — The lyrics of a well-known Christmas carol call this “the most wonderful time of the year.”
For people who have experienced the death of a loved one this season, that wonderful feeling can be a little lacking, particularly for people experiencing the holidays without their loved ones for the first time.
For that reason, the staff at Bryan-Braker Funeral Home has organized the annual Tree of Memories, which is intended to help families who lost a loved one this year cope with the grief that can get especially heavy this time of year.
About 60 different people took advantage of the invitation extended by Bryan-Braker.
“Usually the holidays are difficult for most people who have experienced a loss,” said Bryan-Braker funeral director Jenna Bryan.
The event includes a candle-lighting ceremony, a guest speaker, music, a remembrance video with photos of the family members being mourned, and an ornament ceremony.
The video presentation started things off, which brought forth a flood of memories and some tears. By the time the gathered guests joined the music director for “Silent Night,” there were few dry eyes remaining.
Guest speaker this year was the Rev. Rick Stonestreet of Fairfield’s Calvary Baptist Church.
“The whole reason we are gathered here tonight is so we can comfort one another,” he said in addressing the audience. “We want to show that we’re here and that we understand the pain you’re feeling as best we can.”
Bryan said the compassion poured out by the funeral home’s staff is only part of what gives families the strength and comfort to make it through the holidays.
“The purpose of the event is to show people they aren’t alone and they can get through it,” Bryan said. “People are in different stages of grieving but there is a lot of acceptance.”
Bryan said families are often in deep mourning when they first visit the funeral home and that a return trip for the Tree of Memories typically fills many with a greater sense of comfort.
As the lyrics of another Christmas carol state, “Heavenly peace.”
Reach Bill Hicks at 427-6958 or [email protected].
A rule change at the Veterans Affairs Department will allow veterans to apply for burial in national cemeteries before their death, rather than requiring family members to apply on their behalf after it.
Veteran burial benefits previously were approved at the "time of need." For families, that meant waiting until after the veteran died to apply for the benefits via fax or email by sending in a copy of the veteran's DD-214 or separation documents and then following up by phone.
The rule change instead allows veterans to be approved for burial in a VA national cemetery "pre-need," or before death, through a form submitted by fax, email or mail. The form can be filled out by the veteran or by someone else on his or her behalf.
More than four million people are buried in VA cemeteries.
Burial locations are assigned based on availability at the time of need, VA officials said. Although veterans cannot reserve a gravesite, they can indicate on the form a cemetery preference. Doing so allows VA officials to predict need at cemeteries, and may help inform decisions for those choosing a burial site after the veteran's death, officials said.
The predetermination process qualifies veterans for burial in 135 cemeteries and 33 soldiers' lots operated by the VA nationwide. The process does not include Arlington National Cemetery, which is operated by the U.S. Army and uses a different application system.
After receiving the burial benefits application, the VA will provide written notice of its decision regarding eligibility, officials said in a release. The decision and supporting documents will then be stored electronically by the VA to make burial arrangements faster when they are needed, they said.
The change is an easy way for the VA to simplify the burial process for grieving families, officials with the Veterans of Foreign Wars said, and allow veterans to put their affairs in order.
"We think it's something that's a no-nonsense, easy solution to ease the burden as people enter the later years of their lives," said Patrick Murray, an associate director for the VFW's national legislative service.
"We tell people to be proactive, but in this [the VA said], 'Oops, you can't do this, you have to wait until you die,' " he said. "We view this as a common sense solution for a problem we're glad is being taken care of."
Officials with the American Legion agreed.
"A predetermination is the right thing to do. It allows the veteran and their family a small measure of comfort at a time when they can use any comfort they can get," Lou Cell, the Legion's national director for veterans affairs and rehabilitation, said in a statement.
"The American Legion reviewed this policy when they were recommending these changes several months ago and assured the VA they had the American Legion's full support," he added.
In addition to burial in a national cemetery, the VA provides most veterans who were not dishonorably discharged with a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a presidential memorial certificate after death. Some veterans’ survivors also qualify for burial allowances, designed to cover some burial and funeral costs.
Predetermination forms can be submitted by fax to 1-855-840-8299, email to [email protected] or mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151, according to the VA.
Stonestreet to lead Tree of Memories service at Bryan-Braker
By Daily Republic staff From page A3 | November 21, 2016
FAIRFIELD — The annual Tree of Memories Remembrance Service will start at 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Bryan-Braker Funeral Home Chapel, 1850 W. Texas St.
The Rev. Rick Stonestreet from Calvary Baptist Church in Fairfield will join Bryan-Braker Funeral Home staff in remembering all loved ones who have died and to offer support to families during the holiday season, according to an announcement for the service.
Each family will light a candle symbolizing their memories and the warmth of shared love. The remembrance service will include holiday music, and a reading of the names of the deceased loved ones being while a family member receives a memorable ornament. A reception to follow.
The Tree of Memories service happens each December and pays tribute to the lives of loved ones lost during the last year. The service provides an opportunity for families and friends who have recently lost a loved one to share their experiences with others who are grieving during this holiday season.
Everyone is invited to attend regardless of when their loss was, or if their family was served by another funeral home, according to the announcement.
Those who plan to attend are asked to send a photo of their loved one who has died, for inclusion on a video tribute, by email by Dec. 9 to [email protected]yanbraker.com.
For more information, call Bryan-Braker Funeral Home at 425-4697 or visit www.bryanbraker.com.
Reach the Daily Republic newsroom at 425-4646.
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home - 2016 Daily Republic Reader's Choice Award For Best Funeral Home
(Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)Readers Choice 2016 Best Funeral Home: Bryan-Braker Funeral Home By Ian Thompson From page REA26 | February 28, 2016
FAIRFIELD — Bryan-Braker Funeral Home’s excellence comes from years of experience caring for Solano County’s families from all walks of life.
Its staff takes the time to walk families through the process start to finish with respect, compassion, kindness and attention to detail during what is a very difficult time.
They take great care in organizing memorial services to be as unique as each person’s life, allowing their friends and relatives to express their love for the departed and honoring their life.
Bryan-Braker’s representatives expertly handle all aspects of caring for families’ farewells to their loved ones, from tribute videos and service programs to memorial websites and live funeral webcasting.
But to think that it’s the final moment families have with a loved one, it’s easy to see why it’s important to get it perfect – every time, and that is the core philosophy of how Bryan-Braker has conducted business.
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home has been a part of the Solano County community for more than 60 years.
The backbone of Bryan-Braker is its staff, who have a solid, hard-earned reputation for making the loss of a loved one as bearable as possible and ensuring the memorial process does not intrude on the celebration of their life.
The firm is also active in the community with support of such causes
as National Night Out, KidFest and the NorthBay Hospice Grove.
In Fairfield: 1850 W. Texas St., 427-4697
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
In Vacaville: 615 Merchant St., 448-4900
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday by appointment
Businesses asked to 'champion' local youth
Posted: 05/20/2013 01:00:37 AM PDT
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Local business Bryan-Braker Funeral Home has stepped to be one of the first "business champions" by donating $400 to help send two children to a summer "Pre-Kindergarten Academy."
The donation will be matched by First 5 Solano.
Pre-K Academies are hosted by school districts and other providers in every Solano city, and feature both academics and social-emotional development activities that promote school readiness. Studies show that young children without any preschool experience quickly fall behind their classmates, and are more likely to falter in the critical early grades.
"Anything we can do to help young children prepare for the Kindergarten classroom, we want to do," said Craig Bryan president and owner of the funeral home.
He urges other businesses to join in the campaign, which aims to collect $200 pledges to help fund 16 summer sessions with a total of 450 spaces for Solano children. Businesses can donate online by visiting www.first5solano.org or by sending a check by May 27 to First 5 Solano at 601 Texas St., Ste. 210, Fairfield CA 94533.
Participating businesses will be honored as "Pre-K Business Champions" at the annual First 5-sponsored Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast on May 29 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield.
"This is the fourth year EDC has teamed with First 5 Solano to bring the critical issue of early childhood education to center stage," said Sandy Person, president
of Solano EDC said. "Our children's success in school requires the full support of educators and families, the private sector and local government. Working together, we can help assure a future workforce that will stimulate economic growth across Solano County."
The Solano EDC Breakfast program also features Jay Speck, Solano County Superintendent of Schools, and Don DuBain, Solano County District Attorney, who will speak about the importance of school attendance.
For more information about the First 5 Solano Pre-K Business Champions campaign, contact M. Lynn Hoffman at 784-1338 or [email protected]. Tickets to the Solano EDC Breakfast are $25 for EDC members and $35 for non members. To make reservations contact 864-1855 or e-mail [email protected].
Fairfield, Suisun City residents gather for National Night Out
FAIRFIELD — Karen Hopper is used to gatherings around the barbecue from her years in Alabama, but Tuesday she attended one of her first get-togethers with folks from the neighborhood she didn’t know.
She was waiting in line for hot dogs at Tolenas Park a few feet from an Army Humvee, surrounded by police officers and many who she met for the first time. Tuesday was National Night Out, an event that brings together neighbors, friends, public officials and just about anyone else who wants to show up and chat.
“I’ve never heard about this before,” said Hopper, who moved to Fairfield in December. “We have cookouts in Alabama for any old occasion. Things are definitely different out here. It’s important to see who your neighbors are.”
Minutes later a fire truck pulled up and a crew of three joined the party. John Alexander said he’s lived in the same house since 1976 and enjoys coming to the National Night Out events.
“We bought out here when it was just a plot of ground,” Alexander said. “Every year I come out and have a hot dog. You got to be a part of this and find out what’s going on in the neighborhood.”
Across town in the Vista Palomar neighborhood, Fairfield Fire Chief Vince Webster and his buddy Jim Fuller filled up the front yard with guests who brought their own side dishes as an entry fee. The youngsters were busy taking turns spraying the hose from a fire engine while the adults lounged and chatted.
“The best thing about this is people are starting to know each other,” said Fuller, who’s hosted the event four times. “This thing just takes off.”
Fuller soon welcomed John Mraz, city councilman, and David White, assistant city manager, who were driven around by Fairfield police. Mraz said he was visiting several parties on the west side and enjoyed the camaraderie between residents and city employees, like police and fire.
A murder-mystery for teens, train rides for the tots and food for the whole family were just a few of the offerings at National Night Out in Suisun City.
This year’s event took place in Carl E. Hall Park, sandwiched between the Suisun City library and the Salvation Army Kroc Center. And, just a short distance away is the Suisun City fire station. The location, with the recent addition of the Kroc Center, is being touted as the community center, making it a natural location for a community gathering.
“We are sending a message to the criminals that we’re taking back Suisun neighborhoods,” said Pam Greenwood, community service officer at Suisun City Police Department.
The landing of a medical helicopter drew the attention of Reggie Quinn and his 13-year-old daughter Regina Quinn. The family recently moved from Fresno.
“We had nothing like this in Fresno,”
Children were drawn to Bryan-Braker’s miniature train, built by Bryan-Braker employee Chris Donhost. National Night Out was the perfect venue, Donhost said.
“It’s about family and community and that’s what we’re about,” he said.
Humans were not the only ones wandering the park. The Suisun Wildlife Center showed off a great horned owl and pond turtle. Members of the Solano County Sheriff’s Department posse were on hand with their horses.
National Night Out activities also took place in Vacaville, and across the country.
Bryan-Braker’s Donhost wins state award
By Barry Eberling
Daily Republic From page B6 | June 18, 2012 | » Read More
FAIRFIELD — Bryan-Braker Funeral Home’s Christopher Donhost finds Solano County a diverse and interesting place to work as a funeral director.
He might be making arrangements for a Catholic family that wants a rosary and visitation. Or he might be working with a Hmong family that wants a three-day celebration prior to the funeral.
“A funeral director is the representative of the funeral home who meets with families and assists them with putting together whatever arrangements the family desires,” he said. “There’s a lot of influences on that. Culture is one. Religion is another. Family tradition is huge.”
Donhost has been named by the California Funeral Directors Association as its Young Funeral Director of the Year. He is to receive the award later this month at the California Funeral Directors Association convention in Newport Beach.
The association also gives out a Funeral Director of the Year award. To qualify for the Young Funeral Director of the Year honors, one must be 35 or younger, association spokeswoman Joan Achermann said.
Funeral directors tend to be very compassionate people, she said. The association looks for those who go beyond the call of duty and really give back to the community.
Donhost is 34, so he qualifies in the age category for the award. A Bryan-Braker press release said he is a board member for both the Vacaville Rotary Club and Dixon Chamber of Commerce. He has done such things as work on creating awareness about domestic violence issues.
“This young man is an example for others to follow,” said Craig Bryan, owner of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, in the release.
Donhost himself followed in the footsteps of this father, a funeral director in Sacramento. He saw his father’s dedication and devotion and service.
“I was really attracted to that,” Donhost said.
Donhost lives in Vacaville with his wife Evelyn and 4-year-old twins Elijah and Paul. They are members of Crossroads Christian Church and Solano Parents of Twins and Triplets.
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home has offices in Fairfield, Vacaville and Dixon.
Bryan-Braker's Chris Donhost Named Young Funeral Director of the Year
By Ann Schmidt-Fogarty
Special to Dixon Patch
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home’s Christopher Donhost, has been named the California Funeral Director Association’s Young Funeral Director of the Year.
The 34-year-old manager of Bryan-Braker has received many accolades for his service to his company and the communities of Solano County. He has been active in various capacities.
Chris is a board member of the Vacaville Rotary and a former board member of the Dixon Chamber of Commerce. He has coordinated community events ranging from honoring a “long-ago” fallen hero in Dixon through a vintage funeral service to helping create awareness about domestic violence issues in Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville.
“This young man is an example for others to follow,” said Craig Bryan, owner of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home. “He offers comfort to families and dedicates himself to excellence in everything he does. His devotion to our communities and his compassion for families who seek Bryan-Braker’s services are a demonstration of why he deserves this prestigious award."
Chris, whose father is also a funeral director, is a licensed embalmer, cemetery manager and crematory manager.
He is also a train buff, and helps create a spirit of wonder and fun by taking the Bryan-Braker Railroad out to community events to help raise money for non-profit organizations.
Chris and his wife, Evelyn, have soon-to-be-4-year old identical twin boys, Elijah and Paul. They are members of Crossroads Christian Church and Solano Parents of Twins and Triplets.
He receives his award in Newport Beach in June.
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home has offices in Fairfield, Vacaville and Dixon. Services include burials, cremation and above-ground interment. The company specializes in traditional, contemporary and veterans’ services.
Solano Wine & Food Jubilee guests can purchase redwoods
Published by The Reporter
Posted: 04/22/2012 01:03:58 AM PDT
The Vacaville Reporter - Click Here
In honor of the 10th anniversary of the NorthBay Hospice Grove in Lagoon Valley, NorthBay Healthcare Foundation is making 49 redwood tree memorial packages available for purchase.
Guests at the 25th annual Solano Wine & Food Jubilee will be able to purchase a package at a discount price. For $125, a 12-foot-plus redwood will be planted in your yard or at your business, and a memorial marker will be created and installed to honor your special loved one.
After the Jubilee, cost of the package will be $250.
Ray Lopez of El Rancho Nursery in Vacaville has donated his expert service to deliver and plant the tree at the location of the purchaser's choice, anywhere between Dixon and Green Valley. The engraved memorial plaque is being donated by Bryan-Braker Funeral Home.
"The Hospice Grove was created 10 years ago to serve as a living, growing memorial to those in the NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement program," explains Brett Johnson, president of NorthBay Healthcare Foundation. "The grove features 49 Italian stone pines that were transplanted onto a hillside overlooking the lagoon. For the Jubilee, we're bringing in 49 redwoods to replicate the grove. We want to encourage people to establish a memorial of their own, at a location of their choice."
The timing for the Jubilee is perfect, notes Johnson. The date -- April 27 -- happens to be Arbor Day, the same day the grove was dedicated in 2001.
permanent Lagoon Valley trees that were scheduled to be thinned from a nearby nursery, with the help and direction of Vacaville park planner "Boulder" Bob Farrington. Craig Bryan of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home and Fairmont Memorial Home donated a memorial plaque that marks the spot today in Lagoon Valley Park.
"The Hospice Grove is a living legacy for those who have generously supported the Wine and Food Jubilee and NorthBay Hospice and Bereavement," says Johnson.
In addition to the sale of the memorial tree packages, guests at this year's Jubilee will receive a Hospice Grove Starter Kit, a redwood sapling to take home, courtesy of Mike Serpa of Standard Pacific Homes.
A limited number of tickets remain for the Jubilee -- NorthBay Healthcare Foundation's fundraising event that benefits the programs of NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement. Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. for those with VIP tickets, and 6:30 p.m. for general admission. Tickets are $75 in advance for those 21 and older or $100 at the door, if any remain. Call 646-3133 or visit www.wineandfoodjubilee.org.
Fairfield ambulances, fire engine get new life in Mexico
FAIRFIELD — A group of Rotarians hit the road Monday for a four-day road trip to deliver a fire truck and two ambulances to a Mexican city on the southernmost tip of Baja California.
The Fairfield-Suisun Twilight Rotary Club worked with the Fairfield Fire Department and Medic Ambulance to obtain the vehicles for donation. They are considered obsolete here but will be given new life in Mazatlan and a pair of nearby towns, Escuinapa and El Quelite.
“This is the newest equipment that they get,” said James Pierson, vice president of operations from Medic Ambulance.
Fairfield Fire Department’s Jim Higgins inspected the 1979 Van Pelt fire engine Monday at the old main station on Union Avenue, now a maintenance shop for city police and fire vehicles. The Rotarians added a “Mazatlan” sign to the front of the fire engine and it will retain its “Fairfield” signs and a Fairfield-Suisun Twilight Rotary Club sign.
The fire engine, which was repainted by state prisoners in Vacaville in the late 1990s, has 70,600 miles on it. There will be another 1,600 or so miles on it by Friday.
The group of Rotarians met with Fire Chef Vince Webster and others Monday before leaving on their 30-hour road trip, with 15 hours to the border and another 15 from the border to Mazatlan. They plan to cross the border in Arizona Thursday after meeting two Rotarians from Mazatlan there Wednesday. They will arrive Friday in Mazatlan for a ceremony in front of the mayor’s office.
The bureaucratic road was a long one. A new environmental law in Mexico forbids any importing of diesel vehicles that were manufactured prior to 2004. The Rotarians in Mazatlan, however, were able to convince the mayor and lawmakers to pass a law to exempt the donated vehicles, said Craig Bryan of the Fairfield-Suisun Twilight Rotary Club, who organized the donation. The delay pushed back the delivery more than six months.
In 1997, the Rotary group drove a 1966 fire engine to Mazatlan. At the time, Bryan said, “it was the newest one in town.”
Diesel fuel for the 1997 trip was $260.76. The caravan has a head start — the Fire Department filled up the fire truck — but costs are expected to tower over the prior trip’s expenses. It’s worth it to the Rotarians and fire officials.
“You feel so good walking away from there knowing that what you did changes and saves lives that you’ll never meet,” said Rotarian Kevin Johnson of Fairfield.
Domestic violence film will show in three Solano County cities
Press Release by Ann Fogarty/ Special to The Reporter
The Reporter - Click Here
For Vic Jenkins, it was the sound of his daughter's dying scream. For Myles Dixon, it was the fire coming out of a pistol, the pain of a gunshot wound and the pool of blood streaming from his brother's body.
Neither can escape the impact of domestic violence on their lives and, because of the horror they endured, both want to speak out on the issue.
Domestic violence statistics are surprisingly grim. Recent reports indicate that one in four women will experience it in their lifetimes. In Solano County, 21 out of 30 murders committed in 2011 were the result of violent relationships.
"We see so many families destroyed," says Claudia Humphrey, executive director of LIFT3 Support Group, an organization that assists victims of abuse in Solano County. "People don't realize the layers of devastation that victims, survivors and loved ones go through in the wake of domestic violence."
That's why LIFT3 along with Kaiser Permanente, and Bryan-Braker Funeral Home will sponsor in March the screening of "Telling Amy's Story," which examines the life of a woman murdered by her husband. The film points out various ways in which Amy McGee, a Pennsylvania resident who was killed in 2001, could have been rescued from her tragic fate.
Jenkins, a Vacaville resident, wishes his daughter, Robin, would have been rescued. He talks a lot about independent, feisty Robin or "Rockin' Robin" to her friends and fans. She was a dedicated musician who hoped to become the next Pat Benatar.
"She was always in love," said the soft-spoken former teacher and minister. "While she was strong and even brassy at times, she wanted boyfriends who were even stronger."
She found such a man in David Frostick. The couple moved from Sonoma to Las Vegas where Frostick found construction work and Robin pursued her musical career. The relationship was always troubled. But a car crash, Frostick's resulting back injury and mounting debts pushed it over the edge. The violence began to escalate and Robin, who wanted to work things out, finally took action. She placed a restraining order to keep Frostick away, but later reconsidered and lifted it.
He came back to their home.
Calling his daughter on Mother's Day in 2009 to comfort her over the recent loss of her mother, Jenkins was on the line as he heard her order Frostick to put a knife down. She urged her father to stay on the phone. Just seconds later, there was the sound of a scuffle and, soon after, Robin's shattering scream. Then there was silence. Jenkins learned that he had listened to a murder.
"The violence of what happened to Robin was extreme. She had tried so hard to get away, but he overpowered her. I found out that he used so much force that her arm was nearly severed," he said.
For Dixon, also a Vacaville resident, it was a violence-prone, alcoholic stepfather whose violence impacted his life. In 1985, angry that Dixon's mother was finally ending the relationship, Robert Kaser entered the home with a pistol and shot Myles, his mother and brother, Ehren. Dixon remembers seeing the fire from the gun, the sting of the wound in his leg, and his brother telling him to run away as fast as he could.
"I don't think Ehren realized how hurt he was," he said. He later saw his brave brother, who made it to a neighbor's house, drenched in blood. "Ehren lived for four days and then he died," said Dixon, still emotional about what happened 25 years ago. "The memory is so clear to me even now."
Kaser and Frostick are in prison. Both Jenkins and Dixon say they are as well, as they still hurt from their losses. Both men are on a mission to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence, and to support Solano County's plan to open a facility in Fairfield that will offer victims of violence all the services and resources needed under one roof.
"We have learned that most victims have to walk through at least 23 doors to get everything they need in order to move forward," said Humphrey. "We have to make it a lot easier for victims to get help."
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home manager, Chris Donhost, agrees much more must be done for victims and those they leave behind. He has assisted countless families who have been irrevocably scarred by the deaths of their loved ones.
"Sadly, we are in a unique position to see so many tragic results of domestic violence," he said. That's why it was so vital to us to sponsor the showings of "Telling Amy's Story." We want to make sure this issue is something we can all be focus on and talk about how terrible the consequences can be. We hope we can be a part of preventing others from sharing Amy's fate."
Three showings of "Telling Amy's Story" will be offered in Vallejo, Vacaville and Fairfield. Jenkins and Dixon will appear. Admission is free. Showings include:
* March 13: 7 p.m. at Twin Chapels Mortuary, 1100 Tennessee St., Vallejo
* March 21, 7 p.m. at Vacaville's Old Opera House, 560 Main Street.
* March 29, 7 p.m., at Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, 1850 West Texas St., Fairfield
For more information, call LIFT3 at 398-6865 or visit www.lift3supportgroup.com.
Tree of Memories to be held Dec. 15 in Fairfield
Published by The Reporter
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home in Fairfield will host its annul Tree of Memories event at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the funeral home, 1850 W. Texas St.
This year, Vitas Innovative Hospice Care and the families it has served with join with Bryan-Braker in remembering all of the loved ones who have died and to offer support to families during the coming holiday season. Following a candle lighting, a remembrance service will be held including holiday music, a bereavement speaker, names of the loved ones who died being read aloud while a family member receives a memorable ornament. A reception will follow.
Bryan-Braker representatives said the Tree of Memories Service provides a chance for families and friends who have recently lost a loved one to share their experiences with others who are grieving during the holiday season.
For more information, call 425-4697.
The Little Train that Could
For those who think that tiny trains and funeral homes don’t go together, think again.
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, long a sponsor of many community events, shared fun and joy with children and adults of all ages at the recent KidFest in Vacaville by offering rides on its miniature train. Proceeds donations for the ride benefited the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which helps children who are victims of abuse and neglect. The event raised $800.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to honor kids—both those who experienced joy and Kidfest and those who are in need of help,” explained Bryan-Braker manager, Chris Donhost. While many people think that funeral homes deal with death for the most part, our main job is to help the living. We try to do that in many forms. The Bryan-Braker Railroad is a chance for us to give back to the communities we serve and embrace the joy that living can offer.”
“We are so grateful to Bryan-Braker for this donation,” said Candy Pierce, Executive Director of CASA. “What a wonderful way to give back to some of Solano County’s most vulnerable children, those who have been victims of abuse and neglect, while also giving joy to children of all ages. ”
“We love the story of the little train in children’s books that says ‘I think I can, I know I can’, said Donhost. “We know we can provide hope to kids—and we think we’ve done that so that they, in a sense, will be inspired by the little train.”
All Aboard For a Great Cause at Kids FestBryan-Braker Funeral Home Train Helps Kids in Need
Kids Fest is a great place to bring smiles and joy to the children who will attend, but some children aren’t as lucky. That’s why Bryan-Braker Funeral Home will provide both joy and much needed help to kids in need by putting its special train to special use.
The Bryan-Braker Railroad, a miniature train that can provide children and adults alike with a unique, fun experience, will be offered at the festival on Saturday, October 8, 2011 during the Kids Fest event at Andrews Park from 10am - 3pm. The ticket price for the special ride is $2 with proceeds to benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which helps abused and neglected children.
“We love the idea of bringing all children happiness with our train,” said Chris Donhost, manager of Bryan-Braker. “While our train provides the smiles at Kids Fest, we hope the money we raise will help those who deserve joy, safety and a brighter future. We are so happy to be working with CASA.”
Donhost adds that Bryan-Braker has an extra obligation to help the Solano County community and he thinks the miniature train is a perfect ambassador. “We are privileged to have served the needs of families for decades,” he said. “It’s very important for us to do all that we can to make sure that, along with being there during a time of loss, we can also help people remember to embrace joy and offer hope to those need it the most: children. We think that support for those who live here is all a part of the experience of having a life well-lived.”
Bryan-Braker Funeral Home has offices Fairfield, Vacaville and Dixon areas which include burials, cremation and above-ground interment. The company specializes in traditional, contemporary and veterans’ services.
A Place for Reflection on Memorial DayA Fairfield Cemetery Offers Space for Remembrance
Memorial Day is a time for remembrance and reflection. That’s why a Fairfield cemetery is offering a unique place for those who wish to honor the meaning of the holiday.
Fairmont Memorial Park’s non-denominational chapel will be open on the holiday to provide a location to honor memories from the past.
“We are doing this for the first time this year, because we feel that there should be a place in our community for people to come that feels fitting to honor those who lost their lives for our country,” said Allan Rohrer, manager of Fairmont Memorial Park. “It can also be a time to think about loved ones who have died. Visitors can come to our candlelit chapel or walk the beautiful grounds here and truly experience the significance of Memorial Day. All are welcome.”
The chapel at Fairmont Memorial Park will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the holiday, which is Monday, May 30. Access to the grounds is permissible during the entire day. The cemetery is located at 1901 Union Avenue in Fairfield. For more information, call (707) 425-0208.
Dixon Teen's Efforts to Honor Fallen
Constable Will Take Shape Tuesday During
On Tuesday, the community will dedicate a bench and plaque in honor of fallen
Constable Daniel McKinnon. | By Carlos Villatoro
The hard work of a Dixon teenager has paid off in a big way and has brought recognition to life of a Dixon constable who lost his life in the line of duty.
On Tuesday, April 26, 3 p.m., at the Dixon Police Department the efforts of 16-year-old Tarron Lane, a junior at Dixon High School, will come to pass during the dedication of a bench and plaque honoring Constable Daniel McKinnon.
“I think it’s great, all the things that we have been able to do successfully,” Lane said. “It’s a bigger event than what I had originally planned. This event will be bigger and more people will know about it … and increase the awareness of the history.”
McKinnon lost his life on Nov. 22, 1918, as he and a city marshal attempted to apprehend a man who moments earlier had shot a railroad brakeman. According to historical records, McKinnon and the marshal chased the shooter to the highway and were fired upon. One of the shots struck McKinnon in the chest, killing him at the age of 48.
The marshal who was with McKinnon shot back and struck the man, who later died from his wounds. Lane first heard McKinnon’s story from another Dixonite.
“A citizen of our community, Mike Smith, he had done some research and had found articles that talked about how this constable was killed,” Lane said. “He had brought up the idea to create a memorial in Dixon as the first and only police officer to have died in Dixon in the line of duty. And he had brought it to the Rotary Club and they thought it was a good idea to do as an Eagle Project.”
The Rotary Club then contact Boy Scouts leaders, who passed the project along to Lane. All of the information was turned over to Lane, he said, including copies of the articles and other research done.
“From there I worked with the Rotary Club and the (Dixon) Police Department and the City of Dixon to figure out options for the memorial,” he said.
Lane figured that a bench would be a fitting tribute to the constable along with a plaque. He received approval from the Dixon City Council to go ahead with the project, along with the thumbs up from the Dixon Police Department.
His next challenge was to raise enough funds for the plaque and a bench that would stand the test of time and be compatible with other benches in the Downtown Dixon area.
The black-cast iron bench costs $1,024 and the plaque came in at a cost of $400, the latter costing significantly less because of break in the price that Bryan-Braker Funeral Home in Dixon gave Lane, he said.
But the funeral home was not the only group that donated to the cause. The Rotary Club of Dixon donated $500; Dixon Lions Club donated $500; Dixon Kiwanis Club donated $190 and several local businesses and community groups donated as well.
“When we heard the story about Constable McKinnon we felt strongly that it was our duty to be part of the ceremony to honor him,” said Chris Donhost, manager of Bryan-Braker, in a press release.
The bench and plaque will be dedicated during a Tuesday ceremony at the Dixon Police Department. At 3 p.m., the Boy Scouts will perform a flag ceremony followed by a short dedication. A procession will form and will consist of a rider-less horse bearing a wreath of vintage flowers, a current member of the Dixon Police Department and members of McKinnon’s family.
The procession will make its way to McKinnon’s grave, which is nearly a mile away from the Dixon Police Department.
Lane said he is most excited to meet members of McKinnon’s family Tuesday – which include McKinnon’s daughter, great granddaughters and great-great grandsons – who are scheduled to be at the ceremony.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” said 87-year-old Valerie Jones, McKinnon’s granddaughter in a press release. “I am incredibly grateful to Tarron for finding out so much. Our whole family will be there and we’re excited that Dixon is giving us this chance for our entire family to be a part of this special remembrance for my grandfather.”
Tuesday’s dedication ceremony will punctuate Lane’s Eagle Scout Project, but Lane must still do other things to gain the highest rank in the Boy Scouts, he said. Lane, who started at the age of 8 in the Cub Scouts and is now a member of the Varsity Scouts Team 261 in Dixon, must do a write up about his experience in doing the project and how he has learned and grown as a leader.
Lane must also complete some other requirements including merit badges, and must do an interview with Boy Scouts leaders in order to become an Eagle Scout.
"We are so proud of Tarron and appreciative that the community is giving Constable McKinnon this honor,” said Dixon Police Chief Jon Cox, in a press release. “We are also very thrilled that Constable McKinnon’s granddaughter is still alive and able to be part of this special event.”
Craig Bryan's Interview with Kitty O'Neal ON KFBK NEWS TALK 1530
ON KFBK NEWS TALK 1530Craig and Kitty will be discussing the implications from the tragedy in Japan and the impact on the Japanese people who place a high importance on their funeral customs. » Listen to the full interview here.
Bryan: Spiritual Damage Imminent
BY Ian Thompson - email: [email protected]
FAIRFIELD —Once Japan cleans up physical damage from last week’s quake, the nation will have to face the spiritual damage, the owner of a local funeral home said.
Craig Bryan, owner of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, voiced concern over how Japan will deal with laying to rest so many dead from the earthquake and tsunami that struck that country last week.
“Along with the other unthinkable elements in this tragedy, is the fact that there is a need to ensure public health in the most efficient manner,” Bryan said. “That means that loved ones will have to deal with the fact that remains of their families and friends may not get the honored treatment so important to their culture.”
Last week’s quake and tsunami has left more than 7,200 dead, exceeding the 1995 quake that hit Kobe, Japan, and killed more than 6,400. Most officials put estimates of the dead this time at more than 10,000.
Cremation is the preferred method in Asian cultures such as Japan, but the magnitude of the disaster means the dead may have to be taken care of in a different manner, Bryan said.
“There may need to be massive refrigeration so that bodies can later be identified or, in some areas, large burials that are temporary,” Bryan said.
With the immediate problem of caring for the living and bringing the area’s damaged nuclear reactors under control, “this is one thing that hasn’t been talked about.”
Both the California Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association have offered help to their Japanese counterparts.
So far, the two associations have not gotten an answer.
Having physical remains are an important part of the Buddhist culture, Bryan said.
“After cremation, the discernible bones are placed in a specific manner in urns so the spirits of the deceased are honored by family members,” Bryan said.
The lack of a body due to the tsunami “means there is going to be quite a lot of heartache and guilt over not being able to care for their loved ones the way they wanted to,” Bryan said.
“Our hearts go out to those who are facing a lifetime of wondering what may have become of those they love or could not honor them in the manner they wished to,” Bryan said.
St. Patrick's Day Celebration
Bryan-Braker is proud to have been a part of St. Mary's Catholic Church celebration for St. Patrick's Day.
At Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, we believe in the celebration of life and honoring lives well lived.
Dixon Names It's Top Citizen
Danny Ayala has never sought the spotlight, but nonetheless found himself smack dab in the middle of it in recent weeks when he was named Dixon's Citizen of the Year.
"It was one of the best surprises ever. To be part of that unique list of people, it's a unique club -- everyone has done so much for the community," said the 60-year-old of fellow nominees and past winners. "It was just a great honor."
And again, a gigantic, though welcome, surprise.
Turns out the retired Air Force veteran, who served for 37 years, had nominated his company, Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, for Business of the Year. The establishment does so much for the community, he said, including frequent fundraising, that he felt it had a great shot at winning. So on the appointed night about a week ago he attended the annual Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event in support of the company's nomination. Who knew that he would walk away a top winner?
"I'm just very thankful to the community, especially the people who nominated me," he said. "It's just really an honor."
Carol Pruett, office manager with the Dixon Chamber, described Ayala as a special member of the community.
He has a warm, caring philosophy, she said, in a press statement, and, as a funeral arranger with Bryan-Braker, "has created an openness and accessibility that a typical funeral home just doesn't have. We are so appreciative of all the events and activities he is a part of in our community and are pleased we can honor him in this way."
Bryan-Braker Manager, Chris Donhost, agreed.
"Because we help people through loss and remembrance of loved ones, we have an obligation to serve our communities in a deeper way than many other businesses do -- during times of loss and times of celebration," he said in a statement. "Danny's community participation really personifies what we believe in at Bryan-Braker and we're very proud of him."
Ayala grew up in Hayward and joined the Air Force following his high school graduation. He later married his wife, Kathy, was assigned to Travis Air Force Base and, following his retirement as an aircraft crew chief, moved his family to Dixon in 1974.
Originally planning to move to Vacaville, he literally turned into Dixon on a whim. On that impromptu drive he fell hard for the small community, he explained, and soon moved right in. He immediately got involved in everything from theater, where he contributed the sound and lighting, to the local pageant and soccer league.
Later came the Chamber of Commerce and Planning Commission, heading the Downtown Dixon Business Association, Dixon Rotary, Dixon Family Services and Solano First 5, where he is a commissioner and chairman. He had a hand in last year's Grillin' and Chillin' event, helped found the ever-popular farmers market and more.
"I probably never say no because of the people I've met through the years," he admitted, adding that his always-moving status gained him the nickname "Energizer Bunny."
It's unlikely that Ayala's frenetic pace will ever slow. There's always a new idea to better the community or aid area youth, he said, describing the latter as close to his heart.
Most importantly, he emphasized, there's always people who help him -- and without them, nothing gets done.
"We have a lot of people here who just step up," he said. "That's the community we live in."