Jeanne Mae Parkhurst Byrd

Published 10:03am Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jeanne Mae Parkhurst Byrd  (June 9, 1924 – March 16, 2013) passed away in Monument, Colo. at the home of her daughter, Donna.

Married for 66 years (1943 – 2009) to Lloyd G. (“Gary”) Byrd
Jeanne is survived by her four children: Gary Daniell Byrd of Buffalo, NY; Donna Onasch Andersen Van Ness (husband, David) of Monument, Colo.; Jeffrey Alan Byrd (wife, Helen) of Tryon; and Julie Byrd Burke of Tryon; and 10 grandchildren: Matthew Byrd (wife, Michelle) of Springfield, Va.; Amy Orlowsky (husband, Daniel) of St. Louis, MO; Gregory Byrd (fiancée, Laura Gotwals) of Durham, N.C.;  Adam Onasch of Parshall, Colo.; Emily McDaniel of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Katherine Byrd Kent (husband, Daniel) of Asheville, N.C.; David Byrd of Cullowhee, N.C.; Sarah Burke of Richmond, Va.;  Daniel Burke of Tryon and Colleen Burke of Tryon.; and seven great-grandchildren: Finn (5) and Ella (3) Orlowsky of St. Louis, MO; Olivia (3) and Caroline (1 month) Byrd of Springfield, Va.; and Thomas (7), Aspen (3) and Brooklyn (3) McDaniel of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Jeanne was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio by Blanche Parkhurst Davis and, after her mother’s divorce and remarriage, by her stepfather Ronald Davis. She grew up with a younger brother Curtis Parkhurst (now deceased and survived by his wife, Barbara) of Columbus, Ohio and Phoenix, Ariz.

After graduation Jeanne married her high school sweetheart, Gary, (as a “War Bride”) and quickly became a young mother and homemaker in Columbus and Berea, Ohio and then in Wyckoff, NJ.  She delayed her desire for further education to support Gary’s education and career as a civil engineer.
She loved to work with children and, as a young adult, she was an active leader in the Camp Fire Girls, and later worked as an employee helping to form new local clubs. One of the girls from her first club wrote recently that Jeanne was “the most influential person in her life.”

She returned to school in the early 1960s and graduated, magna cum laude, with a coveted teaching certificate from Paterson State College (now William Paterson University), Paterson, NJ in 1964, when she was pregnant with Julie. Later in her teaching career she also earned a master’s degree in secondary school administration from George Mason University.
She worked as an excellent high school English teacher in New Jersey and Fairfax County, Va., finishing her career as chair of the English department at Mount Vernon High School.

After retirement in 1986 and a move from Mount Vernon, Va. to Tryon, Jeanne remained very active as a volunteer tutor at the Isothermal Community College — Polk Campus and as a member of the Polk County Community Foundation, chairing the foundation’s scholarship committee.
Jeanne loved theatre and performed in her senior class play at Paterson State College. She had a starring role in “Harvey” in her late 70s and in “Oklahoma” in her 80s. She also participated in several other Tryon Little Theatre productions.
Jeanne was a voracious reader who loved to share and discuss books with family and friends.

In Tryon Jeanne and Gary were active in a local bowling league and she was also a regular swimmer at the Tryon Swim Club and a regular bridge player at the Tryon Youth Center. Jeanne and Gary were members of the Tryon Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.

In retirement Jeanne and Gary travelled frequently world -wide with each other and with many life-long friends.
Jeanne and Gary hosted dozens of annual “Family Week” gatherings for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at various seaside and mountain resorts, most recently and frequently at Capon Springs, WV. These vacation weeks are especially remembered by the grand- and great-grandchildren for the contests and games with prizes that Grandmom organized to include everyone.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at the Tryon Congregational Church (www.ucctryon.org). The family encourages donations to either Hospice or the Scholarship Fund of the Polk County Community Foundation (www.polkccf.org) in lieu of flowers.

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