Hometown: Nicholasville, KY [Kentucky State College Prep School, Lexington, KY]
Position: C Playing Height: 6-0
Date of Birth: January 8, 1885
Date of Death: June 25, 1979
Additional Photos: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Obituary - Kentucky Extension Service pioneer, Thomson R. Bryant, dies at 94, Lexington Leader (June 26, 1979)
A 1908 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Bryant held the position of associate director from 1910 when the extension service was formed, until his retirement in 1955.
In 1965, Bryant was one of 81 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Centennial Awards given by UK. He was the only recipient to have served under every president of the university.
Bryant was again honored by the university in 1978 when he was presented an honorary Doctor of Letters Degree at spring commencement.
Following graduation in 1908, Bryant was employed as an assistant in the husbandry department of the Agricultural Experiment Station. In 1910 he was appointed to organize and teach the first course in elementary bacteriology at UK. This was in addition to his work as assistant director.
As associate director he hired the state's first county extension agents in 1912. This system was established because he found entire areas of Kentucky cut off from the world, "in total hibernation from November to May," according to a 1965 newspaper article.
The first counties to benefit from the agent services were Henderson, Jefferson, Daviess, Warren, Muhlenberg, Metcalfe and Christian Berea and Rockcastle County were served by one agent.
The county extension program has expanded from those original seven counties into all of the state's 120 counties. Bryant said the greatest achievement has been "to revitalize the attitudes of farm people. They are no longer rustics. The whole thing was to prevent farming people from becoming peasants, as has been the case in older countries," Bryant said.
As part of his agricultural interest, Bryant was also active in 4-H work throughout the state.
In 1953 he was the third recipient of a plaque for "outstanding contributions to 4-H Club work in Kentucky," given by the UK 4-H Club department. Bryant was the author of the first publication used for club work in the state.
Some of Bryant's other contributions in agriculture include giving the first hog cholera vaccination and assisting in the building and operation of a laboratory for the manufacturing of hog cholera serum.
He was a former chairman of the National association of State Extension Directors and former national president of the extension section of the Land Grant College Association.
Bryant, instrumental in founding the Kentucky Farm Bureau, served as a member of the board of directors of the bureau.
From 1933 to 1969, he was a member of the state Agricultural Adjustment Committee.
An active civic leader, Bryant in 1933, served as chairman of the Lexington Community Fund. In 1934, he served as president of the Lexington Rotary Club and received the Rotary President's Cup in 1978. He was member of Lexington's Lodge No. 1 F&AM.
In 1950,he was named man of the year in Kentucky agriculture. In 1967, he was recognized for his contributions to Kentucky agriculture, with the Sullivan Medallion, one of the highest awards bestowed by UK.
While an undergraduate, he played center on the UK basketball team from 1904 to 1906, and managed the school's football team in 1907. He was senior class president in 1908.
Bryant was a deacon and men's Bible class teacher at Calvary Baptist Church.
He was a member and the alumni advisor for Lamp and Cross, the senior men's honorary at UK. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Alpha Zeta, Sigma Phi and Gamma Sigma honoraries. He was the oldest living K Man and one of the oldest alumni of the university.
He is survived by a son, Dr. Thomson R. Bryant Jr. of Lexington and a stepson, William C. "Buddy" Smith of Louisville, seven grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Services will be conducted at 3 p.m. Wednesday at W.R. Milward Mortuary - Broadway with visitation from 1 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. today.