William D. Byard 1926-2017

WARREN — William D. Byard, affectionately known as “Billy,” 91, of Warren, joined Heaven’s ranks, receiving his angel wings leaving a wonderful life legacy when he passed away Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017.

He was born March 6, 1926, the second child and only son to William David Byard Sr. and Marie Kreidler Byard.

Billy entrusted his spirit into God’s hands on New Year’s Eve morning, surrounded by love. Billy reunites with his beloved wife, Josephine Alexander Byard, and his best friend and dog, Blackie. Billy’s friends and family feel privileged to have known such a magnificent man.

A Warren City high school graduate, in 1943, he proudly enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He trained out of Great Lakes Naval Center, Chicago and was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Billy served overseas on the USS Karmic Destroyer, 621 and 493. He served as a “Deck-Ape,” the ship’s “best” lookout and also worked in the ship’s fire / boiler room. Billy served the open seas during the D-Day Normandy invasion in southern France. Billy was a devoted American patriot and a proud World War II veteran. His exemplary life upheld America’s foundational values of freedom, democracy and independence.

After the war, Billy was employed by Packard Electric Company. Well into his retirement, Billy joined his father’s and family insurance business taking photographs of insured properties in the area. He wed Josephine Alexander in 1958.

Billy called himself a “Maverick.” In the community, he was involved in outreach / volunteer efforts, campaigns and organizations.

For 10-plus years, working the night shift, Bill served on the board of directors and was a telephone operator for Contact, Trumbull County’s help hotline. After several years serving as a Captain Usher for the Christ Episcopal Church, Bill met Mr. Brooks. Brooks ran the catering company at Packard Music Hall in Warren. For over eight years, Bill volunteered for Brooks, serving people. An honorary board member who served several terms in office, Billy helped to establish a shuttle service crossing county lines, streamlining meals to shut-ins for Trumbull Mobile Meals. No stranger to the roads, Billy loved to drive and he often filled in running the meal delivery routes up to five days-a-week. Bill served as a board member for the Trumbull Disabled Veterans (DAV and Easter Seals. He served free lunches at five different churches and he volunteered at numerous senior centers in the area.

When his wife, Josephine, was confined to a nursing home, Billy became aware of the tremendous need for inspiration and friendship lacking in nursing homes. Diligently he began his work for nursing homes. In the last decade, he volunteered approximately 12,000 hours visiting, playing dice and card games, leading singing groups, and training and mentoring new volunteers. Billy’s gifted spirit of wit, laughter, music, compassion and charm brought comfort to those in need. Bill loved to break out into favorite songs like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “The Old Gray Mare” and “Sentimental Journey,” which resonated great fun with people. Overall Billy’s contribution showcased how the powerful gift of genuine friendship and true love of people will make an indelible impact. Billy said, “Reaching out your heart to hold the hand of the lonely is significantly underrated.” In 2009, Shepherd of the Valley recognized Billy’s inspiring work with seniors, honoring him with the prestigious award, naming him “A Valley Legacy.”

The last eight years, Bill served as a volunteer ombudsman for the Area Agency on Aging District 11. Bill called on five area nursing homes advocating for residents’ rights. Attending meetings, sending in reports, recruiting volunteers, he provided follow-up visits one person at a time exemplifying the conduit needed when caring for the down-hearted. Billy’s mantra was, “We must do something different for people who live in nursing homes.”

Bill Byard was an elder trailblazer, a hands-on advocate who did his part contributing to the modern-day person-centered, culture-change model. Billy was recognized and inducted into the Signature HealthCare Hall of Fame in 2014.

An avid sports fan, Billy saw both Babe Ruth and Bob Feller play as a boy. He supported all the local teams, the Indians, Browns, Cavaliers and Buckeyes. His favorite coach was Jim Tressel, whose career he followed from Youngstown to Columbus and back again to Youngstown. His iconic personality was also known in many area restaurants. Billy loved to eat. The Hot Dog Shoppe, Truck World and Buena Vista were only a few of his favorites. Being a bit of a local food and restaurant connoisseur, his choice place to daily dine was hands-down, the Sunrise Inn. The Sunrise staff became Bill’s family and when they hung his picture on the Sunrise wall above the booth where he sat for 70-plus years, he could not have been more honored.

Bill loved to play cards and from his computer he daily followed high-dividend stocks. He loved to watch movies. He loved to read maps, history books, the Tribune Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal and Value Line. He enjoyed astrology, big band music, dogs and loved the TV program “Shark Tank.” Meticulously noted for his pressed shirts, khaki pants, suspenders and ball cap, Billy Byard loved a good surprise, making arrangements on his “c-phone,” and frequently made up his own words and catchy phrases.

Billy was a lover of people and greatly enjoyed and appreciated hard-working attentive waitresses. If Billy wanted to reach your heart, he would ask, “When’s your birthday?”

If you made it into his inner circle, customarily he would give you a nickname.

Billy Byard was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Barbara Byard Loomis and Kathryn Byard Calcin; his wife, Josephine; and his dog, Blackie.

He is survived by his cousins, Mary Rees Frazier of Hamilton, Jane Rees Fender of Kent and Margaret Rees Oliu of suburban Washington. Also surviving are nieces, Janet Emily Loomis of Boston, Barbara Calcin Cannon of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Beth Calcin Christopher of suburban Chicago; and one nephew, James Frederick Loomis of Cincinnati.

Billy Byard’s family wishes to deeply thank the following people for their love, devotion, compassionate care and friendship to Bill. Dorothy Foerster Martin (Dr. Dottie West), Lynda Devine (LynDA), Joanne Morgan (Beaver) Gary and Laverne Mayyou, Kacie Marie, Eva Womack-Ibrahim, Christina Williams, Renee Warren (Beaver), Brittany Greene, Brankica Markulin Saul (Seka), Devon Morgan, and Billy’s little Angel Julia Himes, Gayle Tator, Mandy McCoy, Gwen Morgan (DarkVadar), Kim DeBlasko, Sherry Kotouc, Walt and Chloe, Heather Kornas, Hannah (Banana) Lesh, Sister Audrey Abbata (Arch-Angel), Lisa Gerke + Maureen (McCargie) McCarty (The Golden Triangle) and the Sunrise staff, the Crossroads Hospice staff, Hospice of the Valley’s Hospice House staff, and Gloria from Homemade-Helpers.

In lieu of flowers, monetary contributions can be made, in honor of Billy’s legacy, to The McKinley Institute for Social Change, 428 Rockland Drive, Boardman, OH 44512, earmarked “Billy’s Angels,” www.mckinleyinstitute.org, which provides companionship to those who live in area nursing homes, visit #billysangels.

Contributions of time, in Billy’s honor, can be given to the Area Agency on Aging 11 Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, 330-505-2300, which advocates for those who live in area nursing homes.

The Life and Times of Billy Byard Remembrance Celebration gathering will take place 3 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, at the Sunrise Inn in Warren, that will include a funeral service, entertainment and dinner to be served.

Arrangements were entrusted to McFarland and Son Funeral Home, 271 North Park Ave., Warren.

Please visit www.mcfarlandcares.com to view obituary, send condolences or light a candle.

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