Harriet Byars Peoples

Published 12:51 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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For 76 years, Harriet Louise Byars Peoples shared her life with the family, friends and community she loved. She will be deeply missed following her death on April 29, 2024.
Harriet was born July 5, 1947, in Rock Hill, SC to Stanley Cook Byars, who preceded her in death, and Mildred Sharpton Byars, who survives. Harriet spent her formative years in Rock Hill with her sister, Mary Jane.
Wanderlust set in early for Harriet and she left Rock Hill at the age of young age of 17 and she spent the next decade traveling and living in Florida, Alabama, California and Guam before returning to South Carolina. She traveled to 28 countries during her lifetime and took great joy in exploring new things and meeting new people.
Harriet received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Winthrop University and after returning to Rock Hill, she found herself a teacher, curriculum writer and assistant principal at Castle Heights Junior High School. There, she also found a merry band of fellow teachers and administrators who would become lifelong friends. She remained in near-daily contact with several of them throughout her life and there is no doubt she is somewhere swapping stories and sharing memories with the members of that beloved group who passed away before her.
In 1981, Harriet met Alan Peoples at a 5-mile road race in Hickory. As Alan tells it, she took his registration money and his heart. They married in 1983 and settled in Tryon, a community that Harriet came to love and serve. Over the years, she not only had the dubious task of keeping the Mayor of Tryon in line, but she also served on the boards of the Upstairs [Artspace] and on a scholarship committee for the Polk County Community Foundation and Isothermal Community College Century Scholars. Most recently, she enjoyed simply riding in the passenger seat of a colorful 1971 VW bus during community events and parades.
Organized to a T, Harriet ran a tight ship as she, Alan and Alan’s three sons, who had recently lost their own mother, built a life in Tryon. Though it had not been her plan to raise three young boys, she stepped into that role and helped shape their lives.
A Bohemian at heart, Harriet had a deep appreciation for the creative work of others and filled her home with handmade items she treasured – antiques restored by her father, Catawba Indian pottery, South Carolina sweetgrass baskets, and paintings from a variety of artists, including Maxfield Parrish. She also loved live music and a good glass of Pinot Grigio, but more importantly, she loved sharing those things with the people she cherished.
In addition to her husband, J. Alan Peoples and her mother, Mildred, left to celebrate Harriet’s life are her sister Mary Jane Byars Shuler (Donnie), sons Alan (Paula), Sterling (Terry) and Seth (Laurie) and grandson Harrison Alan. She is also survived by loving nieces and nephews Elizabeth Shuler LeBlanc (Joe), Harriet Shuler (Ben), John Shuler (Kathleen) and William Shuler (John Buckner) and great nieces and nephews. She will also be deeply missed by her lifelong friend Eileen Morgan (Perry) and the remaining members of that Rock Hill crew.
Harriet had a wit and wisdom that she shared freely. She was the keeper of family stories and community anecdotes that made for exceptional kitchen table talk and she lived a life made rich because of her interest in people and their lives. That was evident in recent years in the love that was shown to her as her health declined. She navigated the end of her life with the same grace with which she lived it, and she will be greatly missed.
A Celebration of Life is planned to honor Harriet on Sunday, June 2 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Sunnydale in Tryon. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the Town of Tryon and earmarked for Harriet’s Garden or to Polk County High School Athletics and directed to the Track/Cross Country program.
An online guest register is available at mcfarlandfuneralchapel.com

McFarland Funeral Chapel & Crematory
Tryon, North Carolina

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