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Bryan Church, professor of accounting, began at Tech in 1986.
Bryan Church, professor of accounting, began at Tech in 1986.

Scheller College Remembers Professor Bryan Church

Professor Bryan Kevin Church, a teacher, scholar, husband, father, brother, and friend, known by his colleagues as a brilliant academic who did not take himself too seriously, died on Saturday, April 29.

Bryan joined the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business faculty in 1986 and was a professor of accounting. His teaching areas included auditing, financial and managerial accounting, and financial statement analysis. Bryan’s research focused on auditing and financial statement analysis.

“Bryan was an exemplary teacher-scholar and a valued member of our accounting faculty,” said Scheller College Dean Maryam Alavi. “He was beloved by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the College alike. The Scheller College family has lost a great colleague and dear friend in Bryan.”

A loving husband and father, Bryan is survived by his wife, Lucy, a professor of finance at Kennesaw State University, and their three children, Moira, Will, and Rory.

According to faculty members who worked closely with him, Bryan was known for his quiet strength and selflessness. He was devoted to others, generously giving of his time and never taking credit.

Bryan came to Georgia Tech after earning his Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Florida at the age of 26. Deborah “Debby” Turner, associate professor of accounting, recalled “it was immediately apparent that Bryan was not the typical accounting faculty candidate.”

She continued, “He was clearly a free spirit who seemed more like a ‘surfer dude’ than an accounting professor, but he was brilliant, interesting, and a great fit with our small group.”  

Bryan resembled a modern day Renaissance man with talents spanning from music, to sports (including ultramarathons), to writing, and even canine agility competitions - his world was big. He could cite the name and artist of every song he had ever heard, as well as the release date if it happened in the last 50 years (the same encyclopedic reference ability applied to accounting articles). Bryan loved the outdoors and spent many hours running or hiking with family and friends.

Bryan Church cherished his wife, Lucy, and their family.

Balance was important to Bryan. He was married to Lucy for over 33 years (they even co-authored numerous papers) and together they supported their three accomplished children and their pursuits. Bryan invested countless hours on baseball and soccer fields, at horse stables, at tennis courts, and in concert halls. Moira is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and is currently a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. Will is graduating from North Cobb High School and will begin studying at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University this fall. Rory is a sophomore at North Cobb High School.

Debby described an exercise that Bryan had each of his classes do on the first day of the semester. He asked students to prepare an ID card with their “likes” and “dislikes”. He provided some examples of his own preferences on his spring 2017 MGT 4041 - Auditing & Financial Control Systems syllabus:

  • Likes: dogs; running; shorts; Table Rock State Park, etc.
  • Dislikes: getting stung by assorted bugs; long pants; knee pain; large automobiles that travel very, very slowly over speedbumps; shark week, etc.

Debby described Bryan was “an amazing teacher who cared about his students and their success so the students loved him. He was a thoughtful and compassionate colleague who treated everyone with the greatest care and respect so all of the faculty and staff loved him. He was brilliant, but he made sure that you were the one who received credit when you worked with him.”

“And, last but not least,” Debby added, “He wore shorts to school every day – rain or shine and even in 30-degree (or below) weather – so we all loved him for being the free spirit that he was.”

Bryan touched the lives of many and his legacy is visible in the success of his over 10,000 students.

Jodi K. Prevost, MGT 2006, partner at Atlanta-based accounting firm Frazier & Deeter, remembered Bryan’s classroom as “lighthearted” where learning was fun. “I’ll never forget how he made our 8 a.m. class laugh daily, even though we just wanted to be back in bed,” she said.

Lori Shefchik Bhaskar, Ph.D., accounting, 2014, is an assistant professor at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. “Bryan was the best advisor I could have ever hoped for,” she said. “He always unselfishly made time for me and was deeply invested in my academic growth and success. I will be forever grateful for his generosity, mentorship, and kindness. I owe so much to Bryan and will greatly miss him.”

Jason Perry, MGT 2001, audit partner for Grant Thornton LLP said, “Dr. Church’s role as a professor transitioned to advisor as I approached graduation, which demonstrated Dr. Church’s passion for his students and seeing his students succeed.”

Jason returned to speak in Bryan’s auditing class each semester after he graduated. “I will fondly remember his love for wearing shorts year-round, the Pez dispenser awards for students with the highest test grade, and the fluctuation in his teaching voice, which was directly correlated with his passion for the current topic. I will miss our conversations. And I will be forever grateful for the path he help set me on.”

Bryan earned numerous professional awards, but they would not be easy to find in his office. They were kept tucked away and instead, dozens of photos and mementoes of the things that truly mattered to him covered every surface: his cherished family, his dogs, his students and colleagues, music, and the outdoors.

It was once said "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." Bryan knew this lesson well. One of his students observed that he was in love with life. His was certainly a life well lived and a life well loved.

Memorial contributions can be made in his honor to the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra at: https://georgia.youthsymphony.org/.

To post a memory or share a message with his family, please visit Bryan’s memorial page at:
http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Bryan-Church&lc=7132&pid=185268778&mid=7389201


CONTACTS

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Treshea Wade
Director of Communications