LIMA — “They say if you want something done, find a busy person,” wrote Sandy Johnson in nominating Marjorie Bryan for the 2013 Jefferson Awards for Public Service.
No one ever had to tell Bryan to get busy. She is past district president and currently serves as first vice president of the Blue Star Mothers. She is also co-director of the Allen County Veterans Food Pantry where she transports volunteers, picks up and distributes food, hosts dinners and picnics for the pantry volunteers and donates clothes.
“Our Blue Star Mothers support the troops and the pantry is our main thing. We have a lot of veterans coming in there for food,” Bryan said.
“Most people are in awe of her,” Johnson, of Elida, wrote. “She might be 83 (now 84) years old, but you wouldn’t know it. …She organizes her friends and encourages them join her clubs and organizations and they also dedicate their time, money and efforts for the cause.”
Among her accomplishments, Bryan holds or has held positions with the American Legion Auxiliary, VFW Auxiliary, Eagles Auxiliary, Women of the Moose, Navy Club Auxiliary, AARP, Red Hot Mamas, Westside Neighborhood Association, Wyngate Lunch Bunch, Order of Eastern Star and the Military Order of Cooties Auxiliary.
Born and raised in Cairo, she is a member of Cairo United Methodist Church, where, not surprisingly, she volunteered this past weekend to help hide candy for an Easter egg hunt.
“Sometimes it’s not what you do, just that you’re doing something.” Bryan said. “It’s a way of life. You just keep on. … A lot of the time, you don’t have to be good at anything. You just have to be there.”
Bryan has been there — a lot.
She volunteers at community Christmas dinners and children’s parties; she helped organize and generally helped at a welcome home dinner for returning veterans of Afghanistan in January; speaks at any organization that asks; organizes and helps with funeral dinners at the American Legion as well as fish fries and bingo nights at the Legion; does home health care for friends and family; and, in her spare time, takes friends and family member to doctor appointments. She once arrived on the wrong day for a meeting and wound up joining a book club, which was meeting that day. She’s still a member.
In June 2012, Bryan did a tandem parachute jump to help raise funds for the food pantry. “We didn’t make a lot of profit, but we got a million dollars-worth of publicity” for the Blue Star Mothers and food pantry, she said.
Bryan turned 84 Tuesday, and has been helping out in one way or another for most of those years. Her father was a chief petty officer in the Navy during World War I and led the Lima Navy club during World War II. “We did all kinds of fundraising during the Second World War,” Bryan recalled. She volunteered at rummage sales and card parties as an adolescent. “I was always there helping and loved it,” she said.
As an adult, Bryan worked at Westinghouse, and raised seven children. “They were in scouting and 4-H and Girl Scouts. I was a den mother, those kids could all do the crafts better than I could, but I was there.”
Three of Bryan’s sons have served in the military as have two brothers. In November 2012, Bryan traveled to Parris Island, S.C., to watch a granddaughter graduate from Marine Corps basic training.
Bryan said it sometimes feels as if she’s doing volunteer work “all of my waking hours.” But, she said, given a choice, “I prefer being busy.”