John DeSaussure O’Bryan was born in 1890 and died in 1985. He was admitted to the bar in 1914 and practiced law almost until his death. “Mr. Dessie,” as he was affectionately called, was born in Williamsburg County, the son of William M. and Gertrude Oliver O’Bryan. He attended Presbyterian College and Clemson College and was graduated from the Law School of the University of South Carolina in 1914.
He served in World War I as a private, went on to Officer’s Candidate School, and later was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in a machine gun company.
After the war, Mr. Dessie opened a law office in Kingstree, but subsequently joined Judge Phillip Stoll’s law firm. He was married to the late Marion Gilland McCabe by whom he had a daughter, Marion O. Vaughan, and two sons, the late William M. O’Bryan and J.D. O’Bryan, Jr., who joined him in 1954, creating the firm of O’Bryan and O'Bryan. He also had two step sons, the late Colonel P. Claude McCabe and Dr. Thomas G. McCabe.
Mr. Dessie served as attorney for the Town of Kingstree, the Williamsburg County Memorial Hospital, and for 50 years, he was local counsel for the Atlantic Coast Line, later the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. He was active in civic affairs in Kingstree and the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church where he served as Sunday School Superintendent, deacon, elder and elder emeritus.
While his long life may have lacked great dramatic moments, J.D. O’Bryan is remembered as a good citizen, a good lawyer and a student of the law who was never too busy to discuss legal problems with other lawyers or to help young members of the bar. In the words of Chaucer, “Gladly would he teach, and gladly learn.”