Dorothy Calvetti Bryant
February 8, 1930 – December 21, 2017

Lorri Ungaretti
Friday January 12, 2018 - 04:34:00 PM
Dorothy Calvetti Bryant February 8, 1930 – December 21, 2017
Dorothy Calvetti Bryant February 8, 1930 – December 21, 2017

Editor’s Note: The Berkeley Daily Planet was the enthusiastic beneficiary of Dorothy Bryant’s many talents almost from our first print issue in the new millennium. . Searching the Planet archives on her name produces hundreds of links to articles by her and about her: click here to see them. She wrote book reviews, author profiles, and created a unique feature called My Commonplace Book, excerpts from favorite authors with her own comments added.

Most of her pieces for the Planet, written during her last two decades, explored the theme of how we should best exist in the world, including her own interior meditations on the topic as well as lessons drawn from the lives of those she admired. In the end, her own life, as recounted by her devoted daughter below, provides us with an outstanding example of how to live with honor and virtue in an age where bad examples unfortunately abound.

--Becky O’Malley

Dorothy Bryant, teacher, novelist, and playwright, died December 21, from complications related to cancer. Dorothy was born in San Francisco on February 8, 1930 Italian immigrant parents, Giuditta (“Judy”) and Giuseppe (“Joe”) Calvetti. Dorothy attended Mission High and San Francisco State, earning a B.A. in music and an M.A. in creative writing. She taught music and English for many years at Lick-Wilmerding High School, Continuation High School, and Contra Costa College.

First married in 1949, Dorothy had two children, John and Lorri Ungaretti. The marriage ended in divorce after about 12 years. Dorothy met Robert Bryant in 1968, and they were married after a few months. They loved each other very much and were married for 49 years.

Dorothy, real maverick, defied the “rules” of life and opened doors for others to do the same. She was first to create a “black studies” class at Contra Costa College in 1965. She participated in civil rights marches and demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. And she began self-publishing long before it was popular.

Dorothy began writing in her late 20s. She wrote reviews and essays for The Freedom News, published in Richmond, California, in the 1960s. Her first novel, Ella Price’s Journal, was published by Lippincott. After Dorothy married Bob, they worked together to pioneer self-publishing, founding Ata Books in the 1970s. The first book she self-published was The Comforter, which sold well through word of mouth and was eventually published by Random House under the title The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You. She went on to write and publish eight other novels, one nonfiction book, Writing a Novel, and a collection of essays and short stories. Some of her books are still available through Feminist Press.

Dorothy was a founding member of the Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley. Aurora’s first play, Dear Master, was written by Dorothy. Several of her seven plays were performed by various theatre companies.

Dorothy’s son, John, died in 1994. She is survived by her loving husband, Bob; her daughter, Lorri; her stepdaughter and long-term caregiver, Victoria Bryant; her stepson, Lorenzo Bryant; and her step-grandchildren, Robert and William. No services are planned, although a memorial will be planned for the future. (For more information, please contact Lorri Ungaretti, P.O. Box 640076, SF, CA 94164; or lorrisfATcomcastDOTnet.) To honor Dorothy’s life, enter a brick-and-mortar bookstore and buy a book! Or donate to your local library.