Thomas W. Bryant was one of the most prominent young attorneys of the Florida bar. While a young man in the ’30s, he had a widely varied experience, having achieved success in his profession, and has also a record as a soldier in the World war, with active duty in France before the armistice.
Thomas W. Bryant
Mr. Bryant represents an old family of Florida, and was born in Polk County, March 28, 1890, son of Emory and Nellie (Blocker) Bryant. Thomas W. Bryant is the oldest of six sons, two of whom are now deceased. He acquired a liberal education, graduating from the Lakeland High School, and took both the literary and law courses at the University of Florida. He was graduated in 1915, was admitted to the bar the same year, and at once engaged in practice at Lakeland. He has a thorough knowledge of the law, is an industrious worker in the interest of his clients, and has an extensive general practice. He is attorney for the First National Bank of Lakeland, and in 1922 was nominated for the legislature.
Mr. Bryant was in the service of the Government for eighteen months. He enlisted January 15, 1918, and was assigned to duty with the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred Nineteenth Field Artillery in the Eighty-second Division. After going to France he was at the front for three months, and participated in the battles of St. Mihiel, the Argonne Forest and the Argonne-Meuse campaigns.
He served three successive terms in the Florida Legislature in the 1920s, and three terms on the Board of Control—the predecessor to the Board of Regents—from 1936 to 1949. While in the legislature, Bryant was a champion of the No Fence law and a cattle tick eradication program. He supported construction of Alligator Alley. He was influential in bringing streetlights to downtown Lakeland, passing bond issues for light and water service, the purchase of land near Lake Morton for a library, and the opening of the Lake Mirror complex.
The Thomas Bryant Stadium in Lakeland was dedicated in 1941 in recognition for his support of Lakeland High School football. Much of the growth and development of the University of Florida can be traced to his advocacy. The Thomas W. Bryant Space Science Research Building was dedicated in 1968. In 1987 he received the George Jenkins Award for public service from the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. Thomas W. Bryant died in 1992 at the age of 102. His Great Floridian plaque is located at the Lakeland Public Library, 100 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland.