Goldfield Lays Bryan Smalley to Rest

Bryan Smalley died in Goldfield on October 30, 2021. He was 61 years old. The family does not wish to disclose the cause of death. His obituary in the Pahrump Valley Times is available by clicking this link –> Obituary of Bryan Smalley

Goldfield Lays a Town Father to Rest

By: Thomas Farley / thomasfarley@fastmail.com

More than a hundred people attended Bryan Smalley’s funeral on Saturday (10/06/2021) in Goldfield’s historic cemetery. Those included town folk, family, close friends, and members of Bryan’s church.

Notable was law enforcement from Esmeralda and Nye County as well as fire and ambulance services. They all remembered and honored Bryan’s twenty years as a deputy sheriff of Esmeralda County. Deputies helped lower the casket into his grave while a strong wind whipped the cemetery and the sage covered hills. An officer designated as an honor guard made sure a carefully folded United States flag was placed on Bryan’s coffin with silent ceremony and solemnity.


 

Family friend Randy Wilson conducted the service, observing that Bryan had carved many of the cemeteries’ crosses and headstones surrounding the mourners. A close friend of Bryan’s, Sharon Artlip, later said that he never charged for that work and that, “Bryan would have preferred to build his own coffin and to carve his own headstone.”

Folding the flag before presenting. / Click image to enlarge

Artlip owns Goldfield Art and Business in Goldfield at the center of town and collaborated with Bryan on many projects. She said, “Brian was my friend. He owned Hidden Treasure in town which is a rock shop. He was a partner with my sister Nadia and I with the Gemfield Gem claims that we own outside of town. He helped me do my porch on my building. He helped people with their businesses. And he always promoted Goldfield and had the best in mind for everybody in Goldfield. But most importantly, he was my friend.”

Lowering Bryan’s coffin into the grave. / Click image to enlarge.

Stacey Smalley is a younger brother. He talked about how Bryan got Hidden Treasure going even before he retired from the sheriff’s department. It was a love of rocks and the land. “He was always, always into rocks and minerals. And he just loved this area. He loved Nevada and he loved Goldfield.”

Some of the mourners. / Click image to enlarge.

After the funeral, the day’s event moved to the high school auditorium in downtown Goldfield for a community get-together and a pot-luck lunch. An appropriate forum since Bryan did a great deal for the local school district. Stores were shuttered throughout town with perhaps half of Goldfield’s residents in attendance. Everyone was exchanging their favorite stories about Bryan. Erma Greegh said she met Bryan in 1993 and that he didn’t like wearing shoes in restaurants.” Always had to kick them off.” And if you needed a sign made for any cause, Bryan would carve or paint one for you.

The grave awaiting a headstone. / Click image to enlarge.

Some people traveled hours to get to the funeral since Bryan’s help extended far beyond Goldfield. Many rocks in the Mineral County Museum, for example, were donated by Bryan years ago. Further north of Hawthorne by Walker lake is Schruz, Nevada, home to the RockChuck Gem and Mineral Gallery, owned by Chelsea and John Keady. Bryan affectionately referred to the couple as the “kids.” I talked to John Keady who was there with his wife and young son after a two and a half hour trip.

Overall picture of the Goldfield Cemetery. / Click image to enlarge.

”Bryan was really helpful to Chelsea and I. When I was learning to flint knap, Brian would stop in every time he passed by to show me a few new tricks. He taught me how to complete the edge of my knives so that the blade would be centered. He would just grab the obsidian from me that I was working on and start chipping. And pretty soon his hand would be bleeding all over the place, and he would just keep on going, never skipping a beat. He told his customers to check out our store on their way to Reno. Just a great guy. When my wife was pregnant, he brought us a dozen donuts on every visit. When he heard I needed help with my saw blade, he gave me new blades. We’ll never forget him.”

Bryan in 2019 at the counter of one of three shop buildings he built himself.. These formed the  best rock shop in Nevada. / Click on image to enlarge.

Bryan’s love of people, place, and helping shone through most vividly with what twenty-three year Esmeralda County Sheriff Kenneth Elgan told me at the cemetery. He said, “To be successful you have to have good people behind you. Bryan would do anything at any time to help. He was with every search and rescue operation we conducted and he knew every road in the county. With the large area that we serve, everyone in my department especially relies on each other. Bryan typified that. Bryan was also a pillar of the community and he will be missed.”

While Goldfield may now be missing some gold in human form, Bryan Smalley certainly left golden memories for friends, family, and town folk to  cherish forever.

Bryan shown here in June, 2020 cutting some of my copper in quartzite from the Striped Hills of Nye County near Lathrop Wells, Nevada.

The jewelry room with Bryan at the end of the video along with a guest appearance by Fred the Dog.  Bryan told me that customers saw Fred on my Instagram post and knew him by name when they visited.

 

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