Friends help Mildred O’Bryan celebrate 97th birthday

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For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;His faithfulness continues through all generations Psalm 100:5

 

A delicious spread was prepared for Julia Bernard sitting behind Barbara Smith, then Andrea Parham, Mildred O’Bryan, and Elaine Toppin. Not shown were Mrs. O’Bryan’s granddaughter, Allaine; Madeline Montgomery, Vivian Richardson, Loretta Lue, Lucille Huesner, Gerri Finleyand Marjorie Jones.

COURTESY OF MADELINE MONTGOMERY

It was a spectacularly sunny day for the Golden Girls to celebrate Mildred O’Bryan’s 97th birthday.

The luncheon group, socially distancing themselves recently in Mrs. O’Bryan’s driveway, took precautions due to COVID-19.

They showed love and affection, and conveyed gratitude for Mrs. O’Bryan’s being who she is.

Generations have worked in ways to bring power to their communities. Mildred O’Bryan is such a person propelled in that direction.

Meanwhile, Vivian Richardson exclaimed, “The group coordinated a delicious spread.

“Gerri Finley brought rousing inspirational music, and Andrea Parham read a few sentiments from Mildred’s beautiful cards.

“She enjoyed a little of everything,” said Richardson, “and she said, ‘I’m happy to be here with my friends of many years, once again.”’

Longtime educator

Born on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Mrs. O’Bryan arrived in the Bronx in 1945, and later became an executive secretary for the American Jewish Congress (AJC) in Manhattan.

She’s seen civil rights giants working on “Friend of the Court” briefs in AJC’s legal department for submission to the U.S. Supreme Court. They prepared civil rights cases and petitions to legislators for strong civil rights laws and plans for the March on Washington.

In contrast, Mrs. O’Bryan and her White and Black co-workers numerously have been denied having lunch at the luxury Essex House on Central Park South.

She earned a B.A. degree from Queens College with a major in teaching English at secondary schools. She holds an MSE in business education from New York’s Baruch College. She’s also a widow of a World War II veteran.

Retiring from AJC in 1972, she spurred on to becoming a teacher in Queens, and, subsequently, teaching business courses at Cathedral High School in Manhattan.

Her teaching career .diversified to becoming actively involved with the Springfield Gardens, Queens, Block Association, the Neighborhood Watch Program, and as Chapter 1707 President of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Founded mission organization

The journey brought Mrs. O’Bryan to Palm Coast in 1987, and becoming a founder of United Caribbean Youth (UCY), an organization of former students of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and raising funds for medical aid and school supplies for Africa and for disaster in the Caribbean Islands.

She transferred membership to the Ladies Auxiliary of the Palm Coast VFW and served 32 years on patriotic programs and as Americanism Chairman.

As an African-American from a Caribbean Island, the takeaway that’s conveyed is Mrs. O’Bryan’s interest in the dual heritage and cultures of both traditions.

Former AACHO president

Since the Afro-American Caribbean Heritage Organization (AACHO) strives to preserve
both cultures, she not only became a member, but served two terms as president and a member of the Executive Board, and the Scholarship Committee.

She’s a charter member of the African American Cultural Society, a former member of the Executive Board, and the Cultural Committee.

A strong believer in “The Teacher’s Creed,” once a teacher, always a teacher, Mrs. O’Bryan served as president of the Retired Educators of Flagler County. She volunteered as a tutor and mentor in the schools and turned to becoming an adjunct professor at Daytona Beach Community College (now Daytona State College).

She is a former officer of the Palm Coast chapter of The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a former participant in Church Women United, and an at-large board member with the United Caribbean Cultural Association.

Mrs. O’Bryan firmly believes it is a sacred duty to serve God. She was active as a lector at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (SEAS) Catholic Church, and Family Concerns commissioner of the AM Guild.

Among her other SEAS duties, she’s a past president of the Black Catholic Guild, and a former executive board member of the St. Augustine Diocesan Black Catholic Ministry. She’s also the mother of a Vietnam veteran son, two daughters, nine grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. O’Bryan!

•••

As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.

Celebrations

Birthdays wishes to Yolaine Goodridge, July 9.

Happy anniversary to Henry and Thea Smith, July 15.

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