Saturday, June 15, 2024

Ernest Devon Bryant Sr., 96

HAMPSTEAD — Ernest Devon Bryant Sr., 96, of Hampstead, passed away Monday, August 22, 2022, at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare.

He was born on May 17, 1926, in Cedar Creek, N.C.  His family moved to Wilmington, N.C. three years later.

Ernest began working as a schoolchild, and he left school at the age of sixteen to work at the Wilmington Shipyard.  As World War II raged in 1944, he joined the U.S. Navy at the age of seventeen.  During his wartime service he served on the U.S.S. Scribner and the U.S.S. Bronx. He was involved in the Battle of Okinawa, manning a twenty-millimeter anti-aircraft gun during the most vicious kamikaze attacks of the war.

Ernest was honorably discharged from the Navy after the war.  In 1947 he met Juanita Sanders and immediately proposed to her.  It took six months to persuade her, but in 1948, she married him.  A year later their marriage yielded a son, Ernest Bryant Jr.  They later lost two infants to hemolytic disease.

Ernest thoroughly enjoyed time with his family, and he also treasured his memories of friends he developed through the many decades of his life.  The friends he made throughout his working years are countless.  He worked at the NBC Bakery, the RC Cola Company, and the National Linen Service.  In 1957, he began a career as a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service, retiring after twenty years because of coronary disease.  In the mid-1980’s, he worked at Ives Grocery Store in Hampstead, where he came to view the Ives as family and the customers as fast friends.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, he served as scoutmaster to troop 203, one of the largest troops in Wilmington, and he regarded the boys as his sons.

He served with the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department for twenty years, again making numerous friends.

Ernest was the ideal family man.  He was married to Juanita for seventy-one years until her death in 2019.  He often said that the best years of his life occurred after the births of his grandsons Charles and Sam, and he was elated to see the arrival of Caleb, his great-grandson.

He is survived by his son Ernest Bryant Jr. (Rose Spiller Bryant), grandsons Charles Bryant (Carolyn Hoff Bryant) and Sam Bryant (fiancée Megan Black), as well as great-grandson Caleb Bryant, and numerous nieces and nephews of whom he is very fond.

Family visitation will be held at Andrews Mortuary Hampstead Chapel from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, August 25. 

The funeral service will be held at the Hampstead Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 11:00 am on Friday, August 26.

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