Walter Bryan: an Appreciation

Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 9, 2023

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I have known and admired Walter Bryan for a good many years, since seeing him regularly at the Columbus Post Office when Fran and Mary had their “Stitchin’ and Readin’” store in Columbus. I was their “gopher” and graphics artist. 

Walter always greeted me with a big smile, which I returned. I learned later that Walter had retired from his duties as rector of the Good Shepherd Church in Tryon. I had met his brother James at PRO Physical Therapy and later at the High School as he and Art Brown set up the risers and chairs for Community Chorus while I tuned the big Steinway.

Walter once told me that I must EXPECT to be around for the Tryon Daily Bulletin’s 100th anniversary in 2028 after I commented in a column that I probably would not.  My usual optimism had given way to what I considered to be a realistic appraisal of my prospects.  

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Now I only see Walter at Bojangles on Saturday mornings. He used to give us a report on the condition of his neighbor Glenn Burgess’s lawn when Glenn was alive and present. Now he just contributes his two bits to our wide-ranging discussions. He commented today that he had met my new neighbor and friend Randy Ferebee when Randy was rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Hickory.

I was allowed to visit friends in the Medical a week earlier. The Biltmore House puzzle had a lot of similar-colored pieces, making it a suitable challenge for any puzzle freak.

My graduating class at Tryon School in 1947 had only a dozen members; three of us are now in White Oak. Christine Glover and I have pure white hair; Clarence Henson’s still has some color! I get to have a weekly reunion, with what we believe are the only surviving class members. If any of the rest of you are out there, please contact me! 

As I have pointed out too many times, one of the penalties of getting OLD is losing friends as their time here runs out. I lose about one a month now, and while I use the occasion to chronicle their virtues and accomplishments for you, I am always saddened by this unwelcome development. 

I cherish the fact that I was privileged to count them as friends. I believe it was an Army General officer who observed that we should not grieve that they are gone, but should rather rejoice that such men lived! And ladies, too. Fortunately for us all, men have no monopoly on achieving greatness! 

But has anyone also noted that as soon as one of us begins to rise above the rest of us, there are those who begin immediately to chip away at his feet to see whether they are made of clay and thus cut him back down to our size! Greatness seems to foster resentment in some, especially during the lifetime of the great one. I remember hearing an old man say that “In my day, Lincoln was just another danged Republican!”

Sometimes it takes the passage of some time, perhaps a generation, before greatness is recognized. I must admit that “In my day, Harry Truman was just another danged Democrat!” In retrospect, I recognize that ol’ Harry did a lot of courageous things when confronted with some unprecedented happenings!

I remember when he integrated the armed forces . . . the General’s driver and his yardman were suddenly in our barracks. Those guys were some of the funniest men I ever knew—well-known to us by day; I have no idea where they slept before they joined us in “our” barracks.       

Garland would like to hear from you at 828-859-7041 or