John Brillhart


John Berton “JB” Brillhart, age 88 passed away peacefully while under hospice care in Bradenton, Florida on December 20, 2019. He was born August 31, 1931 in Meadville, PA to Wilbert C. and Vivian I Bullis Brillhart the eldest of three children and attended Meadville public schools. He left high school at age 17 to join the Navy, served eight years as a radarman on the heavy cruiser US SALEM during the Korean War and retired from active duty in 1952.

Mr. Brillhart is survived by his wife of 59 years, Norma Jane Reynolds of Oil City, Pennsylvania whom he met in 1957 while attending Edinboro University. Following his degree in secondary education the couple married and moved to Copenhagen, NY where Mr. Brillhart taught social studies. They moved to Black River, NY after John accepted a position to teach English at Watertown High School in Watertown, NY. Attending during the summer months, he earned a masters degree in literature from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Mr. Brillhart was discharged from the Navy Reserves in August of 1967 at the rank of W2. But he remained an avid sailor on Lake Ontario and made three trips along the Atlantic coast and the Bahamas. And was also an active member of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club, NY and the Trailer Estates Yacht Club, FL.

When Mr. Brillhart retired from teaching in 1982 to concentrate on his writing he and, Jane relocated to Tampa, FL but continued to enjoy North Country summers in Three Mile Bay and Cape Vincent, NY until his death.

A passionate theater director, John contributed to dozens of Watertown Little Theater Productions over more than 15 years, often casting his wife as leading lady. His favorite acting role was “Willie Lowman” in “Death of a Salesman”

Mr. Brillhart was a voracious reader and wrote several novels and poems; after many years submitting his work to editors and publishers, he self-published a novel, Ladybug, Ladybug and a book of poems.

Among his many interests, he enjoyed meditation, weight lifting, and woodworking. He had a talent at drawing and he spent many years perfecting painting in oils and acrylics.

In 1999 he and Jane joined the Peace Corp starting an new station in the Zunyi, Guizhou province, China teaching English to medical students at Sichuan Normal University. As much as John enjoyed studying foreign languages, Chinese proved to be a challenge.

In addition to his wife, John is survived by his three children: Theodore J. (Hideko Kawamoto), Seattle, WA; Amy J. ,Brooklyn, NY; Sally J. (Peter Bolam), Temple Terrace, FL; two sisters, Cecelia Autorino, and Jean Tedder, Jacksonville, NC; three sisters-in-law, Barbara A. Joiner, Bradenton, FL; Jeanne E. Graff, Franklin, PA and Mary Anne Reynolds, Bowerston, OH; two grandchildren, Finn B. and Zoe B. Bolam, Temple Terrace, FL; and several nieces and nephews. His ashes will be in the Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, FL at a date to be determined. Memorial donations may be made to the Watertown Little Theater P.O. Box 8001, Watertown, NY 13601 or a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be shared at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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