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Humans of Oxford | Bryan Partner: Unlimited near-death experiences

By Alison Perelman, Assistant Culture Editor

Bryan Partner grew up in a small, rural town in Pennsylvania. He was tall and big and was bullied a little in school. He played the trumpet in band until he graduated high school.

And Bryan grew up in a funeral home - the family business.

His great-grandfather started the business in 1924 and handed it down from there.

"There was definitely a stigma of living in a funeral home. People didn't come over to the house, and so it was just me and my sister and then imagination," Bryan said.

He had a hugely active imagination - afraid of Jack Nicholson's 'Joker' and gnomes in the attic eaves - but never the actual bodies downstairs.

That's not to say living in a funeral home wasn't hard. It was often stressful, time consuming and interruptive.

"When the phone rang at dinnertime, everyone would sort of tense up and wait to see," Bryan said. "My sister and I used to play this game of the three yes-es. If mom said yes three times, it meant somebody died and then there went the next three days."

Bryan enjoyed his odd childhood and sometimes misses it, but he never planned on taking over the family business.

Instead, he works as the senior library technician in the CIM lab in King Library. But even that's not what he intended to do - Bryan received his Masters degree in creative writing.

"So I have two degrees in creative writing working in a technology lab," Bryan said with a smirk.

Throughout his life, Bryan used his experiences from the funeral home.

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Starting in the lab, he knew how to use a fax machine and Photoshop from running obituaries. He's no stranger to late nights and he's good with people - able to answer questions, fix problems and deal with emotional students who need to print a paper that's due in a few minutes.

And for his writing, he's used his odd outlook on death and fictionalized some of the stories surrounding it.

Bryan has a very dark sense of humor but doesn't see anything wrong with it.

"Life is far too short to be so damn serious all the time," he said.