By ANGIE CARNATHAN
Tomorrow afternoon, a reception will be held for friends, family and the citizens of Oktibbeha County to say thank you to Sheriff Dolph Bryan, a man who has served the community for 39 years. This event is open to the public and takes place at the Shrine Club on Old Highway 25 South — 1769 Louisville St. — from 4-7 p.m. and is hosted by friends and family of Bryan.
Several people have come forward to speak of not only what a wonderful public servant Bryan has been, but also what a truly special man has held the title of Oktibbeha County sheriff for so many years. What follows are just a few of those heartfelt sentiments:
Carole McReynolds Davis and Frank Marvin Davis Sr.:
“I have know Dolph my entire life, and Frank has known him since he came to Mississippi State University in 1957 as a student. “I grew up with Dolph, and spent many hours visiting with him and his family — Polly, his sweet and wonderful mother; his daddy, Homer, who was always so great to all of us; his sister and my best friend, Patsy; his younger sister, Carolyn Sue; and his baby brother, Bill. I use to spend the night with Patsy at their landmark home on Lampkin Street which later was moved to Highway 82 and became Caraghan Home and was used as a home for receptions and entertaining.
“Our friendships go back to our birth. We all were born into and went to Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church together, too. Frank was in the Starkville Exchange Club for years with Dolph and enjoyed his friendship in this club. Frank has a great admiration and appreciation for Dolph. We are so proud call Dolph our personal friend.
“We each can tell a story or two about knowing and loving Dolph. I can almost see Dolph now dressed with his safety patrol white strap over his shoulder directing and helping the rest of us at Overstreet School get safely across a busy South Jackson Street after and before the school bell rang for the beginning and ending of each school day. Dolph loved wearing his uniform when he was in elementary school as a little boy, and he loved his uniform for years as our sheriff. He showed great pride wearing his uniforms.
“Dolph Bryan served us well. We honor him now with our great pride for his accomplishments for all the seconds, minutes and hours that we felt safe when our heads hit our pillows at night knowing that if we for some reason had to dial the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, Dolph would be at our doors immediately to help us. We would feel his immediate protection.
“In 2008, I had the honor to sketch and paint the portrait of Dolph. As I created his face, eyes, nose, mouth and complete uniform, including his Sheriff’s formal dress hat on his head, I realized, within his features, the special expression of the twinkle in his eyes, and the slight smile on his lips that this was a gentleman who loved his profession as our sheriff for 35 long years.
“It was his lifetime job, and he could say with all of his heart, ‘I served the citizens well.’
“We, as citizens, can now say to Dolph with all of our hearts, ‘A job well done.’
“I knew with every pencil mark I made and with every brush stroke that I was capturing on my canvas a man who had spent his entire life serving Starkville, Oktibbeha and MSU within our great state of Mississippi.
“You, as citizens of our great city, county and university, should come to the Shrine Club on Dec. 29 to express your love and appreciation at a retirement reception honoring Sheriff Dolph Bryan for his service to you.
Dolph, we all say ‘Thank you.’”
“Sheriff Dolph Bryan leaves a legacy of true dedication as a public servant that will continuously live on through those who had the pleasure to know and to work for him. He was a pioneer among sheriffs who helped usher in a new era in law enforcement, one in which officers and deputies could consider themselves well-trained professionals. He lived by a simple mantra, ‘We work for the people. They are our bosses.’ He was known to help older citizens feel safe in their homes; to those down on their luck, he reached in his pocket and gave; to Oktibbeha County’s citizens in need of help, who on occasion wandered into his Jefferson Street or Washington Street office, he pointed them in the right direction. Being a lifelong citizen of the county, these are comments I have heard from those who have worked with him and from people who were helped by him.”
Ann McCormick Randall:
“My daughter and I decided to drive from Phoenix to Starkville with three ice chests in the car because two of my wonderful sisters offered to freeze peas, butter beans and okra for me to enjoy over the winter. We don’t have the same good old country cooking here in Phoenix.
“After living in four countries and six states, I never knew why I always referred to Starkville as home until now. At 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, I was on my way back to Phoenix with the car loaded with all my frozen goodies.
“I stopped at the Chevron station to get ice for the vegetables and locked my key in the back of my car. I phoned two locksmiths and the police but no one offered any help. By this time I was near tears and called the sheriff’s office asking for Dolph. I was informed that he was not in so I requested his home number. Much to my surprise, they gave it to me.
“I phoned Dolph at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, and he accepted my call. Fighting the tears, I told him my situation. Very calmly he said to sit tight and he would be there shortly. I could not believe he would leave home that early on a Saturday morning to try and help me.
“Sure enough, he pulled into the station with a locksmith right behind him. It took almost two hours to get my car unlocked, and Dolph was right there the entire time. He kept reassuring me that they would get the car open.
“During this time every customer at the gas station came over to say hello to Dolph. He seemed to know everyone personally, and he would identify him or her for me and ask if I remembered them or their family.
“Throughout this unplanned incident Dolph kept me positive and calm, and sure enough, almost two hours later I was on my way. The last words Dolph said to me were to drive safely and not attempt to make up the lost time. He was so nice and all I could think of was how lucky the good people of Oktibbeha County are to have a person like Dolph Bryan be a part of their growth and family since 1976.
“On the drive home I knew the answer to why after 50 years I still call Starkville home. It is because of people like Dolph Bryan.”
Kirk Rosenhan, Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator:
“I have been privileged to know Dolph for 40 years. I have worked with him through the fire department and other law enforcement activities, and I truly appreciate his abilities and efforts to provide a safe county for everyone who resides here. He’s got an encyclopedic memory of the people of Oktibbeha County and its history, which has been a very valuable resource to everyone. On several occasions he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve the citizens of this county and keep them safe. It’s been a great ride, and as always I wish him well in retirement and know that he’ll be successful in whatever endeavors he undertakes.”
“Time marches inexorably onward. As time ticks away, seconds give way to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, days to months, months to years, and so on. Life is a cavalcade of events that occurs over the passage of time, some of note; others, less so. However, there is one event that should settle in the minds of Oktibbeha County residents for many years to come. That event is the emergence of Dolph Bryan as ‘top cop’ in this county for more than 35 years.
“It is because of his tenure as sheriff that we have enjoyed an air of safety in and around our homes. We’ve enjoyed equal application of the law for all. Law enforcement has been available in a timely fashion, and importantly, Dolph has been approachable to everybody. We’ve seen the sheriff’s department ushered into the 21st Century through the acquisition of necessary technology. We’ve watched him grow personally as he has continuously upgraded his skills. These attributes should remain indelibly on our minds for the remainder of our lives.
“Dolph has been the best sheriff of Oktibbeha County that I have known during my life of 76 years. It is my pleasure to have been associated with him, and I believe history will validate him and one of the best sheriffs the people of the State of Mississippi have ever seen.”
Allen McBroom, Scoutmaster, Troop 45, Boy Scouts of America
“While researching the Scouting history of Oktibbeha County, I discovered that as a young man, Dolph had been a Boy Scout here in Starkville. Numerous articles in the Starkville News (it wasn’t a daily paper then) listed his achievements as a Scout, much the same way Starkville Daily has reported his service to our community. His training as a Scout, especially learning to live by the motto ‘Be Prepared,’ has demonstrated itself many times during his distinguished law enforcement career.
“The Scouting community in Starkville and Oktibbeha County is proud to be able to claim Sheriff Bryan as one of our own.”