LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Wonderful People Still Remembered

[Without any apology from the writer, this is a repeat of a post done last November. It will be repeated every November as long as this blog continues. The subject means that much to me.]



They met on a blind date and took an instant liking to each other. Much of their courtship consisted of hiking in the mountains of North Carolina. She was three years his senior, a fact that brought many laughs in years to come. They were married in 1949.

He became a lawyer. A lover of animals, she became a veterinarian, rather unusual for her time. Her continued quest for knowlege led her to take courses in forestry, icythyology, and she studied all things living. She would later give up her veterinary practice to take college-level courses in science full time.

They lived in Montana and in New York, but their love was for Western North Carolina where they always intended to retire. The couple were passionate lovers of the outdoors. When their children grew up they traveled extensively, hiking some of the most rugged mountains in the world. They always stayed in hostels or inexpensive lodging because, as he said, "You meet so many more interesting people that way."

When they were in their 50s, he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. She joined him for much of the hike and they celebrated with champagne at the end of the trail. Other hikers were delighted with her ability to identify every tree, every bush, every flower along the trail.

In 1990 they moved to the North Carolina mountains they loved so much.



She was a avid gardener and an award-winning quilter. Their passion was hiking, especially the lesser known trails in Pisgah National Forest. They were stewards of the land, purchasing land in their community and donating it to be a nature preserve.

After 58 years of marriage they were deeply committed to one another. They continued to hike together...she in her 80s, he almost 80 at least once a week. If the sun came up, they went hiking.





In 2007 they were found to be missing. Their car was found near a trail head here in Transylvania County. In November, 2007 her body was found near the trail. Telephone records showed that she had made a "911" call from her cell phone but the signal was insufficient to relay beyond the tower. Their bank card was used in nearby Tennessee. Irene Bryant had died of blunt force trauma to the head and her husband John was still missing.


In February 2008 the remains of John Bryant were discovered near on a forest service road in upstate Georgia. He had been shot in the head.


Evidence links the senseless killing of this wonderful and devoted couple to Gary Michael Hilton who pleaded guilty to an equally senseless murder of Meredith Emerson in Georgia.


This post is not about the killer. It's not even about justice. There can be no real justice for such heinous actions. This post is about two of my heroes...John and Irene Bryant.


They left behind a legacy of love. Love for each other, their children, their fellow man, and the future. Love of nature, love of the outdoors, and love of these wonderful North Carolina mountains. They are together once again, and for them we still grieve. They left the world better than they found it. Take a lesson from John and Irene Bryant. Live life to the fullest and give back to nature and humankind.

28 comments:

Janet said...

What a heartbreaking story. Wonderful folks who lived extrodinary lives.

Rae said...

Beautifully written tribute to a couple who gave so much and did not deserve what they got. How horrible and sad. Thanks for sharing.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

How sad. I remember reading about it in the news. Thanks for sharing their story.

Kerri said...

What a loss!

I'm glad that you continue to post this!!

Rudee said...

What a beautiful couple and such a tragic end for them.

George said...

I remember the news stories about the Bryants. This is a wonderful tribute to them.

Vicki Lane said...

Senseless evil in this beautiful world.

Still remembered . . .

(My word verification is wings . . . coincidence?)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

OH I remember that happening well. ALL of my friends told me that George and I had better be careful hiking out there in the woods. I wrote them all and said that I would never stop hiking because of something like this. I wouldn't want those crooks and idiots out there to WIN. I will not live my life in fear of that kind of stuff.

I read and read about that couple --because it could be George and me. We love hiking --and we hike in remote places many times because we don't like crowds. If that happens to us, well---so be it.

That being said, I hope nobody else has to ever go through what that couple did at the end of their busy and happy lives.

We DO need to remember wonderful people like that. God Bless their families.

Thanks Carolyn.
Hugs,
Betsy

The Thundering Herd said...

Like many of your commenters, that story has always haunted me because we spend our weekend on so many trails in the area as well. I always wondered if I passed them at some point on a trail, said hello, and chatted for a few minutes. 99% of the serious hikers I meet are so friendly, so willing to help each other, that you think nothing of just chatting.

Thank you for keeping their story fresh.

Erica Houskeeper said...

An extraordinary couple who lived life to the fullest. Thank you for posting such a beautiful tribute.

robin andrea said...

What a terrible tragedy to befall such remarkably good people. I appreciate reading about them, but grieve that they had to endure such a terrible end.

Karin said...

Thank you for celebrating and honoring their wonderful lives in this way! Keep the memory alive in this beautiful tribute - every November! God bless you for doing this! Such a tragic end! But I totally agree with Betsy - we can't live our lives in fear of what might be.

Cheryl said...

I remember this post from last year....it stayed with me.
Things such as this I never forget......

Busy Bee Suz said...

*sigh*
I have no words.

KGMom said...

I too remember this story from last year--when you posted it. And you should--every year.
The long productive and lovely lives of two such people are not NOT defined by their senseless deaths. They sound like the best that humanity can offer; their killer is the worst.
Let us remember every year--and choose to follow the best.

carolina nana said...

That was so sad I knew them when they came through the market where I have a stand from time to time. They sure were nice people and sure didn't deserve what happened to them.

Leedra said...

Heartbreaking story, but a wonderful tribute to a couple that I can tell meant so much to you.

Scattering Lupines said...

A beautiful, haunting post and a wonderful memorial. The world losing SO much beauty and truth-- such as these two people-- to senseless malice.

Thank you for sharing this sobering post and the story of these two twinkling, wonderful lives. I don't even know them and it's the first time I've heard their story, yet I'm grieving the loss and tragedy.

merrilymarylee said...

I remember reading about their murder and it is nice to read this beautiful remembrance. Now it seeems even more of a tragedy--that they were attacked in the place they loved best. You expect people in such a place of beauty to be of good heart.

How horrifying and sad.

theycallmejane said...

Such a beautiful, loving tribute that caught me completely by surprise with their tragic end on this earth. Simply tragic.

robin andrea said...

Hi Carolyn-- This is an entirely off topic comment, but I wanted to respond to the comment you left on Dharma Bums blog. I completely understood what you meant. You totally got the gist of what my brother and I were laughing about. It's a mess, and of course we will always do our part to help in any way to make things better. My brother was even kidding about driving fast. That was part of the joke.

Your compassion and sincerity are part of what makes the world a better place. Thank you for that.

Twisted Fencepost said...

What a beautiful tribute with such a sad ending.
So sorry for your friends.
I just don't understand how someone can be so cruel.

Jayne said...

So senseless and sad.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and for remembering the Bryants.

Betsy - You are so right. We also hike isolated trails and cannot spend our lives worrying about such horrid people. To do so would be a dishonor to the memory of this fine couple.

Herd - You are so right. We meet and chat freely with so many people on the trails as well. And almost all of them are just like us. I must admit that with the economy like it is, we are a bit more careful in hiking easy trails. There are lots of people now living in Pisgah Forest and we don't want to be panhandled.

TSannie said...

Some things in this world are simply not to be understood. This is one of them.

kks said...

what a terribly sad story, but a wonderful tribute for them....hiking in the peaceful mountains and something so violent....unbelievable...thanks for sharing their love story...
xoxo

Ruth said...

Thanks for re-posting this as I did not see it last year. How senseless and tragic but how wonderful for you to celebrate the lives of John and Irene.

Janie said...

What a terrible thing to happen to two such wonderful people. They lived such a rich life, and may have had many more years together. I'm glad you posted this.