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Happy Birthday & Happy Mother’s Day to a Nonagenarian

Clara Bryant

Clara Bryant

Happy Birthday & Happy Mother’s Day to a Nonagenarian

By Elayne Samuels

 “With long life I will satisfy him (her) show him (her) my salvation.”              Psalm 91:16

The great 1926 Hurricane? The Victory Theatre? The Old Ice-House on Northwest Second Street? These old landmarks are all a part of the history of our Fort Lauderdale and they are all fond memories of Clara Bryant Bland. On May 12 (Mother’s Day), she will celebrate her 95th birthday. On a recent visit Mrs. Bland eagerly shared a few reflections of her life.

She is the proud mother of four children, Shirley Bland Brown, Gail Louise Bland, William (Billy) Bland (deceased), and David Dorsett (deceased) and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and yes, great-great-grandchildren. She is also the oldest sister to Robert Bryant (86-years-old) and Elizabeth Bowens (81-years-old).

Mrs. Bland has lived in Fort Lauderdale since 1925. She moved here with her parents when she was only 5 years old. She attended Old Dillard School. She recalls her family surviving the strong winds of the great storm of 1926 that hit Fort Lauderdale, “There were no storm warnings back then”, she recalls.

Her strong faith is evidenced in the fact that she has been an active member of Mount Hermon AME church since 1937.  As a loyal member, she has served on the Annie T. Reed Board and the Frances Ferguson Board. For over 52 years, she was a part of the church’s choir. When asked to give the titles of her favorite gospels, she softly said, “My two favorites are “Order My Steps” and “The Last Mile of the Way.”

A few events that she considers milestones in her long and blessed life were the first time that she voted, (She voted for John F. Kennedy), the end of segregation, the election of President Barack Obama, and her church’s celebration of 107 years in Fort Lauderdale.

At an age when many of her age group struggle with dementia and other age-related illnesses, this gregarious nonagenarian remains active and vibrant. She attends the Silver Sneakers class (a fun, energizing program that helps older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity and offering social events) three times a week at the L. A. Lee YMCA, enjoys watching the Miami Heat games and going out to lunch, tries not to miss episodes of her favorite soap opera, “The Young and the Restless”, and remains in touch daily with her two best friends, Annie Marshall (They met in 1945) and Rowena Full-more (They met in 1965).

As a woman who loves the Lord and has made Him first in her life, Mrs. Clara Bland says that the Word of God has kept her all these years and that Psalm 27“The Lord is my light and my salvation—— Whom shall I fear?” is her favorite!


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