I write this not only for myself but to honor a Southern businessman and gentleman who, along with his family and community treated me with great respect and kindness.
In 2015 I was among those fortunate to visit Old Waverly Golf Club for a few days when I was producing the Golf Kitchen coffee table book. That was quite a life-changing experience for me; being an Australian, this was my first experience with deeply rooted Southern hospitality.
From the moment I stepped into the world of George W. Bryan, Sr., in Westpoint, Mississippi (like everyone on the property), I was treated like a family member. Mr. Bryan and his equally kind wife and life partner, Mrs. Marcia Bryan, were so kind to me, and during my visit, I noticed that this was a priority and a deep part of who they were.
George and his team were creating a new golf property nearby called Mossy Oak which was dirt, mud, and grass to me at the time! I am pretty curious by nature, and I was thrilled when George personally took me in a golf cart (one meant for muddy conditions) on a tour of the entire property; I was fascinated to learn how everything was created with such thought and care for the environment and how scientific it was, I was never to look at a golf course the same way again! Renowned golf course designer Gil Hanse and his team were installing the watering and irrigation system, which was eye-opening for me.
That evening, I was treated to a sit-down wine dinner with George, Marcia, and their guests that the Memphis Wine Society was hosting at the club. The concept was brilliant. The selected members would bring all the wines for dinner, they each planned them with the culinary team, and each had to personally stand up and explain to the guests why they had selected that wine to pair with the menu item. Laughter was the order of the evening, and this was presented with an attentive staff who were all expertly delivering a flawless synchronized service. As the night progressed, you can only imagine how much more amusing and elaborate these wine stories became. I am still Facebook friends with a few folks from that evening, and whenever I see a post, it reminds me of that old worldly evening, like I was transported back into time, how I loved that tremendous Southern experience.
George insisted that I tour the town of Westpoint; one of the highlights was Waverly Mansion. As a fan of history, this property had it all. It is a monument to a glorious time in Southern History, and the club is named after it. https://www.wpnet.org/index.php/attractions/waverly_mansion
Another notable memory is George and Marcia's passion for historical art; historical artworks were everywhere in the Old Waverly Clubhouse, and I was mesmerized by them. Marcia gave me a personal tour of the family home to experience the historical artifacts and paintings they collected over many years; it was astounding.
I was at Old Waverley to learn about the cuisine at Old Waverley,, but I got much, much more than I could have ever have imagined. Even after I returned to Connecticut, I was thrilled that I could run my ideas by George, and he would call back and entertain my visions.
I am proud that my book sits in the Old Waverly clubhouse and to have been a small part of the culinary history of Mr. Bryan's treasured property.
My deepest sympathies to Marcia and family, the entire Old Waverly team and membership, the Westpoint community, the golf community, and all those who the greatness of this incredible southern businessman and family man has touched.
~ Diana DeLucia
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