Tom Bryson, a resident at the Clinton Presbyterian Community, was recently awarded the Order of the Silver Crescent by SC Governor Nikki Haley. This is state’s highest civilian award for significant contributions, leadership, volunteerism, and lifelong influence within a region or community.
Tom’s honor reflects the impactful and varied contributions he has made over a lifetime of service. His service has taken place both in his professional career as a Clemson Extension Service agent, as well as in his personal life at church, with Habitat for Humanity, in prison ministry, on mission trips, and in other areas. His service has taken the form of physical labor, person-to-person sharing and support, and leadership of others by personal example.
Tom received the award at a public presentation on Sunday, May 22 at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, attended by many admirers and well-wishers, including a bus of residents from the Clinton Community.
Sixteen individuals spoke of Tom’s contributions to themselves and to others in diverse settings. Despite knowing Tom, many of those in attendance were surprised to know he had accomplishments they had previously not been aware of. Some knew of his years of involvement with Habitat for Humanity, but not his work in prison ministry. Others knew of his involvement at his church, but not his service in the Korean War and retirement from the U.S. Army Reserves as a colonel.
The Rev. Dr. Larry Duncan, Tom’s former pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, spoke about how he had leaned on Tom, who served as an Elder and Clerk of Session. The Rev. Spears Alexander shared Tom’s deep involvement in overseas mission work. Van Taylor spoke of how his passion for prison ministry had begun only after Tom had kept after him to make his first prison visit. A theme that recurred throughout the presentation was Tom’s abiding faith in Jesus Christ and the effectiveness of his prayer life.
In a letter from Gov. Haley to Tom which was read to the audience, she said, “Your entire life has been marked by a level of achievement that brings enormous credit to you and your community.” She added, “Your contributions will have a lasting impact on our state for years to come.”