Saturday, April 03, 2010

Marian Katherine Brown Bryant (1930-2010)

Mrs. Marian Katherine Brown Bryant, age 80, of Yanceyville died Monday, March 22, 2010 at Wilkes Regional Medical Center. Mrs. Bryant was born in Locust Grove, Georgia, on February 4, 1930, to Robert H. and Marian Donovan Brown. She was a member of Locust Hill United Methodist Church. Mrs. Bryant was retired from the Caswell County Board of Education. She was the House Manager and secretary for the Caswell County Civic Center. In addition to her parents, Mrs. Bryant was preceded in death by two brothers, Robert Brown and Wiley Brown. Mrs. Bryant is survived by one daughter, Katherine B. Stahle of Rutland, VT; one son, Billy Mac Bryant, Jr. and wife, Patricia of North Wilkesboro; four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

In the year of 1956, Marian Brown Bryant along with her husband and children, Billy Mac Bryant, Jr. (January 21, 1952) and Katherine Maxine Bryant (January 2, 1954) moved to Caswell County, North Carolina from Redan, Georgia to become tobacco farmers with only the knowledge that tobacco did grow in fields and was green at first. The move was quite surprise to everyone, especially Marian. For Marian born in Atlanta, Georgia on February 4, 1930, daughter of Marian Donovan Brown (February 13, 1895 - ) and Robert Harris Brown, Sr. (July 7, 1890 - March 2, 1948) had lived in the small town of Locust Grove, Georgia as a young girl and attended an all girl's school, Georgia State College for Women for two years, stopping to be married in 1949 and then lived near Atlanta as a wife and mother, such a moved seemed without reason.

The reason, however, was Cousin Annie Isabelle Slade (June 12, 1875 - April 14, 1960) who lived in Rockingham County and wanted some of her Georgia kin to live in North Carolina near her. Why choose Marian and her family? Years before, Marian's grandmother, Katie Howard Donovan (October 10, 1870 - August 1, 1930) with her four children had spent the summers for many years in North Carolina with her Aunt Susan Howard Slade, who was Annie I. Slade's mother. Marian's only other kin in North Carolina was an uncle, Wiley Jarrel Donovan (April 18, 1893 - July 26, 1962) who lived with Cousin Annie Belle on the Home place in Rockingham County, so Marian quickly adopted all the Neal neighbors on the adjoining farms as cousins (which is probably a reality).

Farming and gardening in North Carolina was hard at first when your hired help had to tell you everything to do, but the Bryant family learned the difference in Georgia farming and North Carolina farming in those next five years. They raised tobacco, corn, wheat, and hogs to try to make a living, but the husband was not satisfied and went to the state of Florida to try to make his fortune.

After the divorce, Marian decided it was best for all to rent the farm on shares so that she could seek public employment to be able to send the children to college. Her first employment was with the Reidsville Veterinary Hospital in 1963 and the things she learned while working there were helpful when she became a 4-H leader in the Locust Hill Community of Caswell County.

In 1969 she began working as Assistant Register of Deeds of Caswell County in Yanceyville, so she could be near the schools the children attended and help when they needed her. Working with J. Burch Blaylock, Register of Deeds at the time, was truly a rewarding experience. Marian was able to learn about Caswell County and its people, also to take part in the county's activities. She and her children became members of the Locust Hill United Methodist Church, where her daughter played the organ for services from 1968 to 1972.

Her son, Mac, graduated cum laude from Bartlett Yancey High School in 1970. He attended Appalachian State University where he was awarded a music scholarship and he received his B.S. Degree in Music in 1974. He began teaching Band at West Wilkes High School at Miller's Creek, North Carolina. He married Patricia Revis Milner from North Wilkesboro, in 1976. They had a son born on January 24, 1978 named Robert Scott Bryant.

Marian's daughter, Katherine, graduated magna cum laude from Bartlett Yancey High School in 1972. Katherine was able to assist the financial cost of her college education through scholarships and awards; namely, The John O. & Annie Gunn Citizenship Award, a District 4-H Scholarship, an award from the Cherry Grove Ruritans, an A.S.U. Academic Scholarship, and a Federal Educational Opportunity Grant. Katherine graduated cum laude from Appalachian State University in 1975 with a B.A. Degree in Psychology, minor in Sociology. She received her M.A. Degree in 1978 in Clinical Psychology, minor Administration and Higher Education. She went to Rutland, Vermont in the summer of 1978 to work with handicapped children, but loved the Vermont mountains and snow, so continued to live in Vermont teaching skiing in the winters and recreation in the summers at Killington, Vermont.

Marian made one move in employment in 1973 to the Caswell County School System working in the Administration Office. But she remained living on the farm in Caswell County with a collie named "Buster," a cat named "Beauty," and two goats named "Friday" and "Charlie," where all the neighborhood children call her "Ma Bryant."

Source: The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 136 (Article #94, "The Marian Brown Bryant Family" by Marian Bryant).


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