104-Year-Old Tyrrell County Man Still Lives At Home & Drives

As our country get set to celebrate its birthday, there's one man in Eastern Carolina who has seen plenty of them. He's passed the century mark by a few years and still lives on his own at home with his wife.

Henry Bryant from Columbia in Tyrrell County still enjoys spending time in his garden even if it means just sitting nearby and watching these days. But that's understandable. He's been retired now for 14-years. He finally quit working at age 90. That's right. He's 104-years old.

Caretaker and friend Dennis Terry says, "His mind is very sharp. He's moving a little slow, but that's to be expected, but his mind is very sharp."

It wasn't until Bryant turned 100 that he turned over the gardening duties to Terry. And that's only because his legs, as he says, wore out. Bryant says, "I reckon I walked half a million miles behind a mule plowing so my legs gave out before anything else."

So now when Bryant wants to check on his garden he either gets on his motorized wheelchair or behind the wheel of his car. Bryant can still drive, usually just in the yard, or down to the post office or store. But he says he'll probably give that up soon.

Vehicles today of course are a lot different than the first one Bryant had back in 1925, a Model-T. But then again, so is just about everything else in life and Bryant has been there to see it all.

Born and raised in Columbia, Bryant only went to school until he was a teenager. "I lost my daddy when I was fifteen and had to go to work to take care of my family."

Bryant was a logger, farmer, construction worker, worked for the Defense Department in Norfolk, VA during World War II, and built bridges in Washington D.C. In fact, he was there during the turbulent 60's. Bryant says, "When JFK got killed I was in D.C. And when his brother got killed I was there. When Martin Luther King Jr. got killed I was there in D.C."

They were major moments in history that Bryant lived through just as he did with two world wars, and the great depression. "We survived, come through it. I don't ever remember leaving the table hungry."

Bryant also lived through segregation and the civil rights movement and says he never thought he would see our country elect a black president. And while he voted for Barack Obama, it wasn't a given. Bryant is a lifelong Republican, but says he votes for just as many Democrats. So with all he's seen and been through in his 104 years, the good and the bad, the advancements and the setbacks...what does he think about the future of our country? Bryant says, "We're in trouble. We're in trouble. Yep, were in bad trouble."

And Bryant believes it all boils down to one thing. The way he sees it, were becoming less of a God fearing country.

So while he enjoys life with his second wife Nora of 63-years, watching some TV, surrounded by pictures of some of his seven children, he hopes for the best for our country. He says he doesn't really have any secrets for living a long life, but offers this advice. "Try to live right. Treat the other fellow as you wish to be treated."


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Chris Location: Roper on Jul 9, 2011 at 07:13 PM
    God Bless Mr. Bryant! Wonderful story about an inspiring man!
  • by Poo Location: kinston on Jul 5, 2011 at 11:25 AM
    I think that he is a wonderful man I would love to meet him one day.. My daddy was just like him wonderful........Be Blessed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by ADT Location: MARYLAND on Jul 5, 2011 at 08:46 AM
    WOW,GRANDADDY WHAT A GREAT STORY. I MISS AND LOVE YOU. WILL MAKE IT DOWN TO SEE YOU REAL SOON.YOU ARE AWESOME.
  • by Arch Angel on Jul 4, 2011 at 09:31 AM
    Love you grandaddy!!!
  • by happy heart Location: KITTY HAWK, NC on Jul 1, 2011 at 06:44 PM
    A very smart man, God has blessed him and his family. He should write a book.
  • by sc on Jul 1, 2011 at 06:03 PM
    It is uplifting to read a story like this. God has blessed him greatly. And he told the truth that we are in trouble because be are alot less of a God fearing nation. And until we change things are going to keep going down hill fast. He is right:"live right, treat the other fellow as you want to be treated" some of the best words to live by! Someone should write a book about his life, so others can look back and see that it is more important to live life the right way and have good memories to share.
  • by proud to be ENC on Jul 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM
    This man seems to be a class act, with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. When I used to do a lot of community work, I had the pleasure of meeting many others just like him in ENC. If we don't take time to do some sort of oral history project or something (ECU Rural Initiative?), I fear we will lose the important history of this fine region. I'm not an ENC native but am proud to call this area my home. Thanks to WITN for doing this story. Would like to see this sort of story as an ongoing Profiles of ENC feature.
  • by JOHN Location: WASHINGTON on Jul 1, 2011 at 11:52 AM
    This guy should write a book! it would be great to read!!!
  • by Sam Location: Kitty Hawk on Jul 1, 2011 at 07:38 AM
    I give props to this 104 year old man. He has worked just about his entire life (15-90 years old) and worked hard, even plowing the mule as a teenager. He certainly has my respect. It's ashame every time I have through Columbia all I see is nothing but a bunch of thugs that look all cracked out and do nothing good for their own community. Those guys need to learn something from this man, especially about how hard work leads to success. Maybe that will give them something to strive for. I wish Mr. Bryant the very best and for him to keep on enjoying his life and staying positive.
  • by Admiration on Jul 1, 2011 at 07:17 AM
    I hope someone is recording his stories, what a great book it would be. I'd be the first to buy several.
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