LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Three Years Now and No Arrest

[The following post is an annual update to honor the memory of a wonderful couple.]

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 western 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 animal, she became a veterinarian, rather unusual for her time.  Her continued quest for knowledge led her to take courses in forestry, icythyology, and she loved and studied all things living.  She would later give up her veterninary practice to take college-level science courses full time.

The lived in Montana and in New York, but their  passion was for western North Carolina where they always intended to retire.  The couple were true 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 parts 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, and every flower along the trail.

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


Both photographs from the Transylvania Times


She was an 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.  The continued to hike together...she in her 80s and he almost 80.  They hiked at least once a week.  If the sun came up, they went hiking.


Their last Christas card.


On October 21, 2007 they went for a hike in Pisgah National Forest.  Their son who lived out of State was concerned when he didn't hear from them.  He contacted neighbors who also were concerned that they had not returned.  The son called the local police.

The car was found near a trail head here in Transylvania County.  On November 9, 2007, her body was found near the trail.  Telephone records showed that she had made a "911" call from her cell phone on October 21 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.  Her husband John was still missing.

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

While no arrests have been made, evidence links the senseless killing of this wonderful and devoted couple to Gary Michael Hilton.  Hilton pleaded guilty to an equally senseless murder of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson in Georgia.  Under the terms of a plea bargain he was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years.  At the present time he is awaiting trial in Florida for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap, a 46-year-old nurse.  When that trial is completed, the NC Attorney General will determine whether or not to file a case against Hilton on behalf of the Bryants.

This post is not about Gary Michael Hilton.  It's not even about justice.  There is no justice here.  There can be no 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 after three years we still grieve for them.  They left the world better than they found it.  Let's all take a lesson from John and Irene Bryant.  Live your life to the fullest and give back to nature and to humankind.

22 comments:

Rudee said...

What a heartbreaking tale. You're right--there can be no justice for such horrific crimes--but it would be nice to see that man pay for his sins.

Thank you for sharing this story.

George said...

Thanks for continuing to honor the memory of this wonderful couple. It a shame they were murdered doing something they loved.

Barb said...

They lived life to the fullest. That is the message I'll take from their story because their killing was certainly senseless and brutal. Very sad.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh --how I remember this vividly, Carolyn... My friends all reminded George and I to be careful --out there in the woods where we hike alot...

You are right ... There is NO justice. I always want to take someone like that --and kill them brutally and painfully (like one finger at a time).... That is horrible to admit--but I truly feel that way. For what all he did to others, he deserves nothing less... JMHO.

Thanks for bringing that fabulous couple to our attention again.. We all do need to live our lives to the fullest --each and every day.
Hugs,
Betsy

Courtney at Scattering Lupines said...

I remember your beautiful tribute to this couple last year. It's just as much a tearjerker as ever. Absolutely senseless violence and loss.

Deborah said...

That was a beautiful post and very sad. I hope justice will be found.

The Thundering Herd said...

Thank you for your continued attention to this horrific case. I hike in the Pisgah National Forest all of the time and this incident bothers me tremendously.

kks said...

So sad and tragic.....thanks for keeping their memory alive
xoxo

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Lovely but sad post about your friends. So complex -- Barbara

Busy Bee Suz said...

This story has haunted me since last year. It is heartbreaking...such wonderful people hurt for no reason.
Thank you for keeping their memory alive.

robin andrea said...

I remember reading your post about them last year, and the brutal end of their beautiful lives has stayed with me since that first read. In some ways there is no way to protect ourselves from such a horror, and so we must go out and hike and appreciate the natural world, and hope that our paths don't cross with the brutal monsters of the world.

KGMom said...

I too remember reading the post last year. Such stories are so sad, such a testament to humanity's endless capacity for senseless cruelty.
How did you know them?

Jayne said...

I can't believe it's been another year since you last posted this Carolyn. So very, very sad.

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

How sad!! And how horrific a crime!! Thank you for sharing this memory of a couple who truly loved life. And God help the person who took their lives away!

~Beth

troutbirder said...

Lives well lived and remembered....

cyclopseven said...

The rarest among humankind is such a couple. They are hard to come by. You are lucky to have had that privilege. Alas!! mystery of life is beyond prediction. They were snatched away by such a brutish act. Nevertheless, they are still alive in your memory. Such living souls are a gift from heaven. God bless.

SouthernSass said...

You are right - there is no justice. Very sad story, but unfortunately we hear of more and more of this type of senseless violence every day.

Donna said...

Oh my......so tragic. Thanks for telling us the story.

Sam said...

What a sad story, but also a beautiful story of a wonderful life. Maybe the key is to not think about how it ended, but how it was spent?

Sam

Vicki Lane said...

I remember the story -- and salute them.

TaraDharma said...

an inspirational couple...i was not prepared to read about their horrid ending. There is no justice, after all. Their deaths must not overshadow their lives, which were brilliant and vital and so good for the world. I know monsters live within us and among us, I just wish they didn't.

KB said...

They were an inspiration - I hope that I am like them when I reach my 80's! But, what a tragic ending to their lives. There are no words for it.