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Obituary of Bobby Byrd
The Unabridged Obituary of Robert “Bobby” Eugene Byrd
Robert “Bobby” Eugene Byrd passed quietly away on January 15, 2024 in the warm and compassionate care of the nurses and staff at Quality Care Skilled Nursing Center. During his brief stay, he enjoyed the company of many friends and family who took advantage of the fact that he could not disagree with them. He was thoroughly entertained by their version of countless stories of hilarious adventures with him in his 79 years of life. Despite being aware that he was at the brink of crossing over he defied all odds and chose to linger a couple of days as the center of attention. He enjoyed the music of Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and would lip sync the words to their songs and even raise his arms. Finally, his guests were advised that he was being “over-stimulated” and the celebration was interfering with the pain-relieving effect of morphine drops.
The celebration of life was paused and will be continued on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. at Sellars Funeral Home in Lebanon, Tennessee. The family will observe visitation from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. at Sellars Funeral Home.
Robert, known as Bobby or Bob, was born on February 26, 1944 in Nashville, TN as the third child of Everette McCampbell Byrd and Rilla Geraldine Hamilton Byrd. His birthday was always celebrated on February 22nd until he requested an actual birth certificate to complete his application to Austin Peay State University. He then discovered his actual date of birth was February 26th. Nevertheless, his older brother, Jim (a/k/a Bubba) continued to call him every year on February 22ndto wish him a happy birthday.
Bob was blessed with 4 siblings, 2 children, 7 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Clara Willis Byrd; his daughter, Traci Lynn Byrd (Ronda) Landers; grandchildren: Lauren Thetford, Emily Byrd (Jake) Perry, Morgan Oliver (Chad) Burgett, Robert Jacob (Julia) Byrd, Tori (Brittany) Des Oliver, Jackson Liam Byrd and Caroline Grace Byrd; great grandchildren: Ashtyn Thetford, Philip Perry, Mary Grace Byrd, Annie James Byrd, Eloise Perry, Jacob Bear Byrd; siblings: Jim (Barbara) Byrd, Beverly Byrd, and Pat (Tilford) Elkins.
He is preceded in death by father, Everette McCampbell Byrd; mother, Rilla Hamilton Byrd; son, Robert Jeffrey Byrd; and youngest sister, Jeannie Byrd Mitzenberg.
The Celebration of Life will be led by three of his dearest friends and spiritual advisors:
Brother Jacob Lannom, the pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church, where Bob was very active until his health deteriorated. Bob loved Bro. Jacob like a son and corrected him as well. He was instrumental in the rebuilding of the church after the fire in 2015, and the beginning of Bro. Jake’s ministry in 2016. Bob was a Sunday School teacher, “Ranger Bob” to the children at VBS, one of the “Outlaws” who mowed the lawn and an adamant believer in the King James Version of The Bible and that it was the only Bible.
Bro. Terry Fesler was the pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church for approximately 15 years and through his friendship and gentle encouragement, Bob became more involved in leadership roles at the church and became a Sunday school teacher. Bro. Terry maintained his close relationship with Bob even after moving on to other churches to share his Christian mentorship.
Bro. Danny Sellars was a lifelong friend. He and Bob were fortunate children who were allowed to roam freely around the neighborhood of Lebanon. Doors were never locked and moms always managed to feed a few more at dinner. Both were unruly, to say the least, in their teens. Both were athletic and their passions for sports and respect for the coaches kept them from becoming absolute juvenile delinquents. Later, they both became brothers in faith. Bob delighted in listening to Bro. Danny on the radio on Sunday mornings as hedrove around Lebanon picking up donuts, juice and milk for the children to have after Sunday school.
Bob took an interest in Wes Nabors when he was a young child protégé. His grandfather, Bro. Nabors brought him to Cedar Grove Baptist Church on many occasions and Bob enjoyed his singing and piano skills. As Wes got older, his talents increased and Bob was allowed to help mentor him as a young man. They became friends and Bob will be honored to hear Wes play the piano at his Celebration of Life.
Bob was always obsessed with idea of “lists” butnever wanted to write them himself. He wanted to dictate them to someone else who would neatly write out the lists for him. Usually this task fell to his wife of 42 years. He would then wave them in the air, and tell anyone he ran into “See! This is the Honey Do list my wife gave me”.
In any event, Robert dictated the following as his list of accomplishments:
1962 Lebanon High School – Graduation
1967 Austin Peay State University – Bachelor of Science Degree
Babe Ruth Baseball;
Junior High Football -7th and 8th grades;
Lebanon High School Football 1958-1961
Played Offense and Defense (Running Back, Corner Back)
Lettered in 1960 and 1961
All Midstate Teams in 1960 and 1961
Starting Halfback-Cornerback on 1961 team-Undefeated
Inducted into the Lebanon High School Hall of Fame
on December 12, 2014;
(After days of researching a battered suitcase full of tattered newspaper clippings, Bob also dictated the following statistics of extreme importance to him and insisted that this list be included in his life full of achievements.)
1961 FALL FOOTBALL TEAM STATISTICS (10/0)
Lebanon 19-Livingston 0
(Byrd scored 1st touchdown of season)
Lebanon 12-Springfield 0
Lebanon 14-Gallatin 6
Lebanon 13-Murfreesboro 6
(Byrd scored touchdown)
(Byrd scored touchdown)
Lebanon 26-Carthage 0
Lebanon 37-Cookeville 7
Lebanon 37-Columbia 12
(Byrd scored extra point)
Lebanon 19-Lafayette 6
(Byrd ran 43 year touchdown)
Lebanon 28-Hillsboro 0
Tobacco Bowl: Lebanon 19-Sparta 26
In the fall of 1962 Byrd walked on at A.P.S.U. He started in 1963 playing linebacker on defense and fullback on offense (This was during the days of Limited Substitution Rule. He often played the entire game without substitution).
Austin Peay State University Football 1962-1966
1963-Set A.P.S.U record with 103 tackles and 104 assists
1964 -148 tackles
1965 - 134 tackles
Byrd’s A.P.S.U. career record 489 tackles
All Ohio Valley Conference in 1964 and 1965
Inducted into Austin Peay State University Hall of Fame
on October 22, 1994.
Robert was especially proud of the following article which appeared in his Austin Peay State University Hall of Fame Induction program on October 22, 1994:
“Bobby Byrd enjoyed an outstanding football career at Austin Peay from 1963-65, holding the distinction as one of the school’s best linebackers in history. Beginning as a two-way player at fullback-linebacker, he almost exclusively became a defender because of his outstanding aggressiveness. In three straight seasons, Byrd led the Govs in tackles, piling up an incredible 489 stops. His 207 tackles (103 initial hits, 104 assists) in 1963 still is considered the school record. The Lebanon native helped lead the Governors to consecutive 8-1 record and OVC second-place finishes just in their second and third seasons as conference members. He was a second-team All-OVC choice in 1964 and selected first team in 1965. Byrd, however, hasn’t lost touch with the OVC since his playing days ended. This marks his 20th season as a league football official, mostly as a back judge. He spent two years as a high school official before moving into the college ranks. In his long career, he has officiated national championships in the Division I-AA, Division II and NAIA levels. After graduating in 1966 with double major as geographical science and health and physical education, he worked briefly for ESSO (now EXXON) before gaining employment at the Tennessee Department of Transportation. He has been there for the last 23 years, now serving as division manager.”
1972-1977 High School Basketball
1972-1998 Junior High Football
1972-1998 High School Football
Offficiated numerous State Championships, Play-offs, Bowl and All Star Games
1973-1998 NCAA College Football
Crew Chief 25 years, Position Chief 15 years
34 Championship games, 10 Semi-final games
4 National Championships (1985, 1988, 1990 and 1995)
Ohio Valley Conference Award – Durkin/Pack Award
All American Football Foundation – Butch Lambert Outstanding Football Official Award on April 25, 2005.
During his career, he officiated many conferences – OVC, SEC, Big Sky, Southern and others.
Bob was employed with The State of Tennessee – Department of Transportation – Materials Management from 1972 until he retired in 2004.
Since most of Bob’s friends should not be allowed to lift a casket, his friends are his Honorary Pallbearers.
Donnie Ford, has been a faithful friend to Bob over the years, but in the last few years Bob relied upon him to be his breakfast/lunch partner. Usually the pair would go to Cracker Barrel, Bob’s favorite place to eat. However, if Donnie protested too much, Bob would have to settle for the Waffle House. The two spent many hours “bush-hogging” or mowing. They also shared an insatiable interest in watching deer.
Richard Dillon and Doug Elmore have been great friends to Bob for years and were fellow “Outlaws” who attended to the church lawn and other church activities. Richard and his late father Jimmy Dillon would spend hours with Bob preparing the dove fields, preparing breakfast, catching cows, tending to the Dillon fields and hosting dove hunts.
Jimmy Midgett and Bobby Swann enjoyed activities with Bob such as boating, fishing, and four-wheeling together. Jimmy and Bob rode together daily to Nashville when they both worked for The State of Tennessee. Bob drafted both Midgett and Swann to assist with putting up signs during his wife’s campaigns and assisting at campaign kickoffs. They were always in charge of the grill.
Arnold Huskey was Bob’s roommate at Austin Peay State University. Arnold has remained in close contact with Bob continually since college. Arnold, Tom Jones, Ed Bunio and Bob all became friends playing football. They have remained friends and played golf in their yearly A.P.S.U. reunions.
Eddie Callis has been a friend of Bob since the two attended Flat Rock Elementary School together and they maintained contact through various reunions and gatherings of the LHS Class of 62.
Hank Hulse has worked with Bob on numerous repair projects on the Byrd residence. Bob and Hank would fish, sometimes all night and sometimes in 30 degree weather, but enjoyed every minute together.
Wayne Carmack and Joey Carmack became friends of Bob when Joey was eight years old and was called “The Hammer”. Wayne loaned Joey out for about six months in 1998 to assist Bob and Clara in the campaign. Bob became Joey’s mentor during that time and Bob proudly followed him as he became an outstanding citizen and councilman of Lebanon, Tennessee.
Jack Lowery has been a special friend to Bob going back to the years when Jack was a Lebanon Police Officer. Both Bob and Jack would light up a room whenever they appeared and they shared this in common. They would tell conflicting tales about things they did in their younger days.
Chancellor C.K. Smith and Bob were great friends and loved to compete with each other,although neither Bob nor Chancellor Smith would ever admit defeat. Regardless they would always tell each other how much they loved each other.
Terry Ashe was one of Bob’s loudest friends who also loved to compete telling tales of the past. Bob, like Terry, was never afraid to speak his mind nor how he really felt about a situation.
Eric Thompson was the friend who bore the brunt of Bob’s jokes. Bob could not resist commenting on each and every pretty woman that Eric dated and Bob loved to hear the latest gossip. He was especially curious about who Eric was dating. Tommy Thompson and Bob had so many laughs at Eric’s expense. Regardless, Bob loved both like brothers and would have fought anyone who laid a hand on his friends.
Bob had so many friends that have passed over into eternal life and those that remain are toonumerous to mention in this limited space. This does not lessen the importance of the numerous friends that are unnamed herein.
Bobby Byrd had many interest and hobbies. He enjoyed fishing, golfing, boating, hunting, shooting, bird and deer watching, riding the lawn mower, but most of all, gatherings of any sort with family and friends. Bob’s constant companion since his traumatic brain injury in 2020 has been his cat “Covey”. He and his wife raised animals, including chickens, rabbits, cows, horses, dogs and cats over the years. Bob lost his desire to hunt game in his later years because he could no longer stomach killing the animals that he enjoyed watching so much. He and his wife would put out feed for the deer and the birds in the winter and home many stray cats. Their most recent dog “Izzy” was forced to attend work with his wife every day, so all of his attention was centered on the cat. Also, if any dish, mirror or china cabinet were broken, Bob always blamed the cat.
Therefore, in lieu of flowers Mr. Byrd would request that any donations be made to Country K-9 Rescue Inc., 116 Rocky Road, Lebanon, TN 37087 or any other animal rescue organization of choice.
Arrangements by Sellars Funeral Home, Lebanon TN, 615.444.9393.
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