Marjorie D. Bryson

1923 - 1999


Their Story

Marjorie Doris Bryson was born in Lyndon Township, Illinois, on September 8, 1923, the daughter of George A. and Elsie Hayen Murphy. She graduated from Erie High School in 1942.1 Her father died on February 7, 1971. Her mother died on October 25, 1974.2

Marjorie Murphy married Thomas D. Bryson in 1946 in Prophetstown, Illinois. They had four daughters, Colleen, Maureen, Kathy, and Mary; and two sons, Thomas and William.3 Her husband, a sergeant, served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II4 from May 3, 1943, until his discharge on March 11, 1946. He died on April 5, 1966,5 from injuries received in a car accident.6 The two-car collision occurred on the Illinois 84 Rock River Bridge near Carbon Cliff. Thomas was thrown from the vehicle after hitting the concrete bridge.7

Bryson enlisted in the U.S. Navy Waves on December 2, 1943, while working at the Rock Island Arsenal.8 She did her boot training at Hunter College in New York, New York.9 Lieutenant Bryson was honorably discharged on March 18, 1946.10

WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) was established as the United States Navy’s corps of female members on July 30, 1942.11 They were assigned to work as administrative office workers, link trainer instructors, aviation machinist mates, aerographers (a warrant officer in the U.S. Navy whose duties include the observation of weather and the preparation of weather and surf forecasts), and hospital corps workers.12 At least one-third of the WAVES were assigned to naval aviation duties. At the end of World War II, there were over 100,000 women serving in the WAVES.13

After her service, she worked at the Rock Island Arsenal as a secretary. In May 1966, Bryson and her six children were hospitalized after being poisoned by carbon monoxide from a faulty furnace in the home they were renting.14 They were awakened in the early morning by the 4-year-old’s cries and an older daughter threw herself down the stairs on purpose, then crawled to the phone and called for help. She then fainted.15 Bryson could only crawl around trying to get to her children. Bryson and the three older children were released later that day but the younger children were kept longer.

In 1973, Bryson was the executive secretary for Selective Service boards 188 and 189 in Rock Island County.16

Marjorie Doris Bryson died on February 25, 1999, in Davenport, Iowa. Her survivors included daughters, Colleen Fanning, Maureen Leedham, and Kathy Erickson; sons, Thomas and William; seventeen grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; sisters, Judy Kohler and Susan Jacobs; and a brother, Warren Murphy. Bryson was preceded in death by a daughter, Mary T. Conger in 1996.17


1 10 Nov 1943, 26 – The Daily Times at

2 Marjorie D Murphy – Facts (

3 Marjorie D. Murphy Bryson (1923-1999) – Find a Grave Memorial.

4 U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current –

5 Bryson, Thomas Delaine in U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019 – Fold3.

6 17 May 1966, 3 – Quad-City Times at

7 06 Apr 1966, 3 – Quad-City Times at

8 Clipping from The Daily Times –

9 Clipping from The Daily Times –

10 Bryson, Marjorie D in U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019 – Fold3.

11 WAVES | United States naval organization | Britannica.

12 30 Jul 1945, 18 – The Daily Times at

13 WAVES | United States naval organization | Britannica.

14 17 May 1966, 3 – Quad-City Times at

15 16 May 1966, 1 – The Rock Island Argus at

16 01 Mar 1973, 26 – Quad-City Times at

17 Marjorie D. Murphy Bryson (1923-1999) – Find a Grave Memorial.