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Mississippi golf legend George Bryan, Sr. passes at 78

George Bryan
Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Golf Association

Mississippi golf legend, businessman, and philanthropist George Bryan, Sr. has passed away at the age of 78.

Bryan and his wife, Marcia, co-founded Old Waverly Golf Course in West Point, which has grown into one of the South’s premier golf destinations as well as home of the Mississippi State men’s and women’s golf programs. Bryan led the charge in bringing the U.S. Women’s Open to Old Waverly in 1999, earning him “Sports Person of the Year” by The Clarion-Ledger.

“He was one of the true southern gentlemen. He loved his family and he did more for the state, not just in golf, but the business side of it and the impact and influence he had on so many lives. He was just so generous with his time and his efforts,” former PGA Tour player Jim Gallagher, Jr. said on SportsTalk Mississippi. “The vision that he had to build a place like [Old Waverly] and to convince the USGA to bring the U.S. Women’s Open, the U.S. Women’s Am, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Am, and put Mississippi on the map with golf. He was so great to my family. I love the man. He was such a great man and did so much for our state.”

Bryan was also the co-founder of Mossy Oak Golf Club, which opened in 2016. The course quickly became one of the most revered in all of the U.S. and was recognized as one of Golfweek’s Top 100 Modern Golf Courses in 2018. He is scheduled to be inducted into the Mississippi Golf Association Hall of Fame in Jackson on January 21.

A graduate of Mississippi State University, Bryan was named MSU’s College of Business and Industry Alumni Fellow in 1992, College of Business Alumnus of the Year in 1996, and National Alumnus of the Year in 2000. He also served on the college dean’s advisory board and was a member of the MSU Foundation.

In his professional life, he was production manager and vice president of sales before being named Bryan Foods president in 1974. He was named Sara Lee Corporation’s senior vice president in 1983. In addition to serving as Sara Lee Corporation’s senior VP until 2000, Bryan served as chief executive officer of Sara Lee Foods and chairman and director of the American Meat Institute before retiring in 2000.

As a philanthropist, Bryan was general campaign chairman for the United Way of the Mid-South, a 30-year director and member of the Audit, Trust, and Compensation committees of Regions Bank, and past president of the Chickasaw Council Boy Scouts of America. He was named an “Outstanding Mississippian” in 1979 by then-Governor Cliff Finch and was inducted into the West Point Hall of Fame in 1992 and named West Point’s “Citizen of the Year” in 2000.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, at Mossy Oak Golf Club in West Point. Visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m. and service will begin at 2:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests for people to support Old Waverly Junior Golf Foundation, First Presbyterian Church of West Point, the Mississippi State University Bulldog Club, or charity of choice.

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