HOUSTON – The Rev. Doctor Bryan Jay Cannon, aged 90, passed away on Monday, July 8, 2019. “B. Jay,” as Bryan was known in his adult years, was born April 10, 1929, in Dixon, Illinois, where he received his early schooling. He was active in sports from grade school through graduate school, lettering in three sports. He attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, studying engineering his freshman year, and received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1951. B. Jay received his Master of Divinity on May 4, 1954, from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. Three days later, he married the love of his life, Phyllis Jean Paul of Chicago, whom he met as a student minister to youth at the United Church of Hyde Park, where she was an active member. They subsequently had four children, Jeffrey, Cathy, Cynthia, and Craig.
B. Jay did graduate work on a master’s in clinical education at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition, he studied at Oxford University in Oxford, England. His Presbyterian pastorates were in Waterman and Hillside, Illinois; Bethlehem and Washington, Pennsylvania; and Houston (Clear Lake), Texas. He was recognized as Pastor Emeritus at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas, after 16 years as Senior Pastor there. He then served as Interim Pastor at St. John’s Presbyterian Church and as Parish Associate at Grace Presbyterian Church, all in Houston, Texas. He was active in the Presbytery and Synod, and served as commissioner to the Presbyterian General Assembly. He was a popular speaker at spiritual renewal conferences and traveled extensively.
B. Jay was tremendously talented and influential in how he touched lives. He was a poet, an author, an artist, a preacher, a counselor, an advocate, and a friend to so many. He played the harmonica and had a wonderful sense of humor, always delivering jokes with perfection. Anyone who met B. Jay knew within moments that this was a special man, connected to God in a profound way. Through his ministry and his relationships, B. Jay was instrumental in helping others develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Dr. Cannon served widely on organizations of his denomination and communities in which he lived, such as on a citizens’ advisory committee of a county planning commission and the development of the Volunteers of Probation Agency for a local court probation department. He chaired the Washington County, Pennsylvania, heart fund and chaired a Rotary Club’s International Relations Committee, instigating a sister city program with a city in Nicaragua. He also had been a member of Kiwanis. The Samaritan Counseling Center of Clear Lake that he helped establish, where he served on the board of directors, named its pastoral counseling program the Bryan J. Cannon Institute of Pastoral Counseling in his honor. B. Jay was on the board of Big Brothers of Fort Bend County, Texas; the Faith at Work Board; the St. John’s Hospital Board of Councilors; the Texas Impact Board; and was president of the Fort Bend County Genealogical Society. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, with several patriots in his ancestry, the First Families of America, the Winthrop Society, and the Descendants of Colonial Clergy. He was listed in Who’s Who in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Phyllis, were members of the Heritage Society of the University of Dubuque, supporting a scholarship for a student of a single parent family.
With a deep concern for the environment and a love of nature and animals, B. Jay was a long-time supporter of the Cousteau Society, the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund.
In retirement, he continued to preach and teach, learned to sail, snow ski, paint ceramics, and make pottery, which, in addition to wire sculpture, were his hobbies. He sold a number of pieces of his art; the art department of San Jacinto College bought one of his pieces of pottery for its permanent collection.
Dr. Cannon was his family’s genealogist for over 20 years, publishing his and Phyllis’s family histories. Writing over his 40-year career, he published multiple books in the genres of spiritual guidance, fiction, and poetry. He also authored children’s books named for his grandchildren.
B. Jay was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Phyllis.
He is survived by son, Jeff and Paige Cannon of Austin, Texas; daughter, Cathy Cannon Greenbaum of Clearwater, Florida; daughter, Cindy Cannon Albert and Steve Albert of Houston, Texas; son, Craig Cannon of San Antonio, Texas; and grandchildren, Michael and Sylvia Cannon, Taylor Greenbaum, Virginia and Warren Albert, and Alexander and Elizabeth Cannon.
A memorial service will be held on July 20, 2019 at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main Street, Houston, Texas. Following the service will be a reception at the church.