In Memory

Gary Briney

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11/16/19 08:51 PM #1    

Robert Ambrite


I had not seen Gary Briney for over sixty years. The evening before our Denby High School 50th Reunion, a large group of alumni met at a local Detroit bar to reminisce, swap stories from long ago and see how “Pretty Kathy” or “Handsome John” ultimately turned out. Were their youthful hopes of fame and glory actually fulfilled, or – like most of us – were their lives’ journeys filled with happiness, a little disappointment and general acceptance of the cards they were dealt. That evening, Gary carried a cane while his friend, Dean Cook, helped guide him from table to table, making sure Gary's glass was never empty. Surprisingly, Gary remembered me from Wayne Elementary School. His eyes were bright, his smile warm and his Marine Corps handshake firm. Upon seeing him, I thought, “Gary is still the same kind and thoughtful guy he was in the eighth grade.”

We all remember the east side of Detroit in the late fifties and early sixties. For most guys, as shallow as it may sound, it was all about being macho, tough and cool. Back then, it was a unique young man who could actually focus on attaining a high GPA, giving respect to others and, God forbid, actually showing kindness, thoughtfulness and tenderness to others. I believe Gary Briney was one of those special young men. He was not in it to prove his manhood by getting into fights on the dusty, gravel playground at Wayne, or throwing eggs on teachers’ cars from the roof of the Wayne powerhouse. He was a step above, true to his own beliefs and caring about people’s feelings. His family must have been proud. He set a quiet, amiable example for others to follow.

While chatting with Gary at our get-together, I recalled, during the turbulent days of bussing at Denby, how I had noticed him respectfully escorting two African American young ladies to find their study hall room. He was providing a warm hand of welcome and friendship. I don’t know much about Gary’s later years, but I am sure he had family, a job, a mortgage and worries like most of us. But, I do know he faced life’s challenges never forgetting to show tenderness to others. In the words of the late, great Otis Redding, in his 1963 song, backed by Booker T. & the M.G.’s and produced by Isaac Hayes:

                                                 “Oh, I may be waiting, just anticipating

                                                 All of the things I’ll never possess,

                                                 But, while I’m waiting…

                                                  I’ll try a little tenderness”     


Rest in peace, Gary. Know that you are fondly remembered and respected by all of your brothers and sisters at Denby. 

12/18/19 12:41 PM #2    

Marty Palmer


I met Gary in the 10 grade at Denby.  We hit it off right away as he was not affiliated with any group of people at Denby.  He was his own person and not a joiner. Gary and I became close friends durring High School and I used to pick him up and take him to school just about every day for a long time. 

We hung out at Dunkin Burgers on 8 mile and Kelly and had many good times there. Some time we would get a bucket of Kentucky fried chicken and eat it in the parking lot of "Dunks".  We went to many parties together and we always left just before the Cops got to alot of them....good luck for both of us.

Gary went into the Marines some time after I was in the Air Force.  He was in G2 and dealt with the secret stuff. He did a tour in Vietnam but would not ever talk about it.  We hooked up again after I got out of the AirForce in September 1970.  He did not let what he saw over there affect him....same old good guy Gary. 

He went to California to work in the Flower Business that provided  the flowers for the Rose Parades each year for a long time.  He retired from this business and had at that time married a girl he had met online from the Philippines. This was not to work out for Gary, When just after 10 years of marriage when his wife and her sister fled the USA with all Gary's money and savings. He was then impossible to find for 2 years on the street. He was finally found on a park bench in Oxnard and was given his VA health and living benifits.  He lived in an assisted living complex since he had at that time the beginnings of  early Alzheimers disease. This was a good time and confusing time for Gary.  Gary did make it to the 40th Denby reunion as those that were there remember... popular guy.

Gary had many good friends and will be remembered as a good guy always ready to help a friend in need. I wished there would have been a way to bring him back to Michigan several years before his passsing.  This is what he wanted but it was not to be. I will  miss my special friend and as will many others that knew Gary. My life was better for my friendship with Gary Carl Briney... I miss you....may you rest in Peace.

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