American Veteran 04

Dennis Brya

March 14, 1928 ~ June 28, 2019 (age 91)


Dennis "Denny" A.L. Brya, of Champaign, passed away at 9 a.m. on Thursday, (June 28, 2019) at the University Rehabilitation Center of C-U with his family by his side.

A visitation will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 2, at Owens Funeral Home, 101 N. Elm St., Champaign. Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m. at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign. Monsignor Stanley Deptula will officiate. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Denny was born on March 14, 1928, in Decatur, the son of Frank G. and Julia A. Brya. He married Helen Elaine Nihiser on April 28, 1956, at St. James Church in Decatur. Together, they celebrated 60 years of marriage. Elaine preceded him in death on Dec. 6, 2016. 

Surviving are his sister, Julann Condit of Henry; three sons, Mike (Erin) of St. Joseph, Tim of Champaign and Ted (Cindy) of Champaign; and one daughter, Lisa Crawford (Ken) also of Champaign; four grandchildren, Tom and Heidi Brya and Emma and Kendall Crawford; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Brya, and one brother, Frank M. Brya.

Denny graduated from Champaign High School. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II in Occupied Japan. After returning to the states, he attended the University of Illinois and received his B.S. degree in agriculture and insurance.

In 1955, he and his brother Frank established the Brya Insurance Agency, as representatives for Pekin Insurance. They held offices for many years in the Goldblatt’s building and Country Fair Shopping Center. The continued success of the agency was largely due to Denny’s ability to form genuine relationships with his clients. After his retirement, sons Ted and Tim have continued to run the Brya Insurance Agency still located in Champaign.

Denny became an avid runner and biker. He competed in several marathons, triathlons and his most grand accomplishment was running a 50-mile race. When he wasn’t running or biking, he was playing the role of a proud papa. He especially enjoyed fishing with his grandchildren and spending time with his family. Denny was a devoted, loving husband to Elaine, as her primary caregiver for several years. He made sure to spoil her and always had a bouquet of fresh flowers by her side.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to the wonderful staff at the University Rehabilitation Center of C-U. The nurses, CNAs and staff went above and beyond for dad, and each of them expressed their love for him. His neverending smile, good nature and jovial personality found its way into each of their hearts. Thank you also for the care and love shown by the staff of Harbor Light Hospice, who were always there for him.

Memorials may be made to St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign, or an organization of the donor’s choice.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dennis Brya, please visit our floral store.


July 2, 2019

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
Owens Funeral Home
101 North Elm Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Funeral Service
July 2, 2019

11:00 AM
St. Matthew Catholic Church (Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign)


St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church
1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign IL 61821

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