Bryan was born Sept 9‚ 1978‚ in Klamath Falls‚ Oregon‚ and spent his early years in Gold Beach‚ amid the beauty of the Oregon coast. He was very athletic and participated in all the sports he could. Bryan was very focused in whatever he did‚ a hard worker from a very young age. He loved animals and always had a well-trained dog as a companion.
When our family relocated to Gold Hill on the Rogue River‚ close to Medford‚ Bryan’s love for the outdoors flourished. Fishing was a calming influence from the hustle and bustle of the city and working.
Bryan’s love for the outdoors led him to become a framer. As his talent and skills progressed‚ he became a journeyman carpenter and owner of B Rich Construction. Though many have said that he was one of the best framers in the Rogue Valley‚ his bookkeeping was not on the same par. He would take care of friends‚ keeping them working at the expense of his own business survival. He was a very caring man and was loved by many people. He gave of himself and his talents to help others‚ taking no pay for many things he did. His sense of humor and smile were infectious. He was dedicated to his friends and employers.
When the building trade started to wane‚ he went to work for Grayback Forestry. His supervisor said that because of his athletic abilities‚ skills‚ and dedication‚ Bryan had progressed rapidly as a chain sawyer in the limited time he had been on the job. His foreman told us that they had planned to make him a lead. As he worked fighting fire‚ he gained a passion for the work. He planned to go to school to study structural firefighting after the season was over.
Bryan had been with his fianc_e‚ Katie O’Donnell‚ for several years‚ and they had been friends since junior high school. Katie and Bryan were soul mates.
I was working a shift at the hospital and checked e-mail to see how the fire was going where Bryan was working. I saw a stock photo of the Carson helicopter‚ with the headline‚ ‘Forest Fire Fighters Feared Dead Along With Pilot in Northern California Helicopter Crash.’ The next day‚ a call from Katie informed us of his death. We died some that day.
Bryan was the spark in our lives. He is also survived by his younger brother‚ Lee‚ and his nephews and nieces‚ Justin Lee‚ Isabel‚ and Bryan James Rich‚ who was named in his honor. He is missed by so many who will never forget him.