Bryan W. McCown of Franklinville became an organ, eye and tissue donor upon his passing on October 31, 2011 at the age of 19.
His family shared this remembrance:
Bryan was born to a large family of eight. Even though he was second youngest in the family he became the biggest and tallest in the family and was known as our “gentle giant.” Bryan never used his size or strength to bully or intimidate, instead he tried to become their “big brother.” He had a heart of gold and would always drop what he was doing to help someone in need and he never asked for anything in return.
From an early age Bryan loved the outdoors and being around animals. If he was not to be found at home we would find him the barn working with his grandfather feeding the cows, horses, chickens, turkeys, etc. When he was younger he would pitch a tent in the front yard and sleep outside until it got too cold and we made him come in. Because of his love for animals, Bryan wanted to become a veterinarian when he was a small boy but as he grew he chose another path and became a mechanic.
In high school Bryan played for two years on the football team as an offensive end and defensive tackle. He also was on the wrestling team which he loved. His wrestling coach would always tell him that he needed to get his “game face” on and Bryan would just look at his coach and give the coach a little grin and tell him that he was ready—he was always ready. In his senior year, he wanted to try something different and chose to play soccer. He would tell us that he wished he had played sooner because soccer was so much fun. Bryan loved his sports! He was a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan. Whenever he and his father would play football on the PlayStation, Bryan would always choose the Bills even though he would get beaten by whatever team his father chose to play with. The Bills were HIS team.
Kayla Everett, a friend, remembers this about Bryan:
‘Smiles’ Bryan was truly a special person. He was one of those people that would give you everything he had to make sure you had everything you needed. He was always there to help before you even realized you needed a helping hand. He had a kind and gentle heart. He was always smiling, laughing, and showing his quirky side. I don’t think that many people got to see this side of Bryan and mistook his kindness for weakness. He was one of the strongest men I have ever known. It takes courage to be as kind, helpful, and caring as he was.
When I moved down the road from him we met and started riding bikes together. He would fend off the spotted dog down the road always chasing after us on your bikes very time!
He was the only person I knew that was brave enough to eat a worm on a $5 dollar bet because, we he said, ‘It’s only a worm.’
After graduation he would stop by just to say, ‘hey’, just to talk, or help you with random things. He loved playing with my daughter Emmie, who was only a baby at the time. He truly enjoyed the simplest of things in life without even trying, the way that everyone should live life.
Bryan taught me a lot. He was one of a kind and taken way too soon.
Laugh much. Be free.
Love a lot. Be kind
Listen well. Be supportive.
Christian Franclemont, another friend, remembers:
I make sure to stop and see him every time I’m on leave. I always have a special time to visit him for sure. I couldn’t do Halloween until last year when I thought about it and realized he would want me to have a good time with my platoon and not feel sorrow because of his death. That was the kind of person he was.
Every time we saw each other at BOCES, we’d go out of our way to make sure to say ‘what’s up”’ and I miss that. I can’t believe he’s gone and I really can’t stand it. I really do keep my true friends small and in that way he was my true brother, blood or not.
Finally his best friend, Cody Phetteplace, remembers:
My best friend/brother, Bryan McCown, aka Smiles, passed away 4 years ago on October 31, 2011. Until now I couldn’t bring myself ‘til now to say anything but I miss Smiles.
He was kind of guy that he was having a bad day or noticed yours was worse, he would go out of his way to bring you up no matter what it was. He would give you the shirt off his back. But some people mistook his kindness as weakness. He was always right there if you needed a helping hand and would never ask you for anything in return.
We weren’t blood brothers by any means but we had a friendship. A friendship that was thicker than blood.
I didn’t talk to him like I would have nor could have due to my military lifestyle. But every chance we got was great and valued. He had my awesome wife, Carinna, to keep him updated as to how I was fairing in life and he always kept up with his Goddaughter’s bottle times every day. You might not have gotten to meet her bro, but she knows who you are.
Friends come and go, but damn, this kid had that special place in my life and still does to this day. Even though he is gone, he won’t be forgotten.
It’s true what they say and this is ‘the good die young’, bro. “You touched my life like only a few have and a few will ever. I will miss ya.
When Bryan died, we sat down as a family and talked about Bryan being an organ donor. Bryan had a “Heart of Gold,” was caring and helpful and we knew this is what he would have wanted or would have done. We knew he would want to still help those in need, even in his death. So we made the decision to donate any and all organs and tissues that would benefit others. This was our way to make sure our “gentle giant” will go on living and helping others.