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C. Donald "Don" Byrd

May 30, 1940 May 31, 2018
C. Donald "Don"  Byrd
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Obituary for C. Donald "Don" Byrd

The roll was called in Heaven on Thursday, May 31, and Don Byrd’s name was on the list. Our beloved husband, father, brother, son, uncle, cousin, and friend left this world in the morning hours of that sunny Thursday – the day after his 78th birthday -- following a brave battle with liver cancer.

Don was born on May 30, 1940, in Scott County, Tennessee, to Sigal and Ila Faye (Vann) Byrd. He graduated from Norma High School in 1959 and attended Tennessee Technological University on a basketball scholarship.

Don married the love of his life, Shirley (Neal) Byrd, on March 4, 1960. To their union, four children were born – Ron, Phyllis, Jerry, and David. Don and Shirley raised their family in Redkey, Indiana, before moving to Texas and then to Iowa.

Don made his living in the insurance industry, first as a successful agent who won numerous regional and national awards and accolades, and then as an executive who founded brokerage organizations selling multiple insurance lines in several states. Of all his awards, he was most proud of his first – Man of the Year with Investors Trust of Indiana. He spoke recently of the joy he felt when he returned home from the awards banquet and saw his children lining the street in front of their house with homemade cardboard signs congratulating him.

Don’s foremost “hobby” was his family, which grew to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also was an accomplished musician, having founded and toured the American South and Midwest for years with the Southern Gospel Singers, a group that also included his wife, sisters, and brothers-in-law. Don also became a successful golfer over the years, participating in tournaments throughout the country. He could often be found playing 18 holes at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston, Iowa. He was an avid sports fan, cheering the loudest for the Chicago Cubs and any and all teams from his beloved University of Tennessee.

Don will be remembered most fondly for his insurmountable faith and unwavering generosity, and for serving as a mentor and a guiding light to many. He also saw great value in humor, telling jokes – the cornier, the better! -- to put smiles on the faces of everyone he encountered. In 2012, he wrote a book about his life, making sure to give all glory to God for the blessings he had enjoyed.

Left to treasure Don’s memory are his wife of 58 years, Shirley Byrd; his stepmother, Lois Byrd of LaFollette, Tennessee; his children, Ron Byrd (Deena) of Donna, Texas; Phyllis Byrd-Short (Jerry) of Norwalk, Iowa; Jerry Byrd of Des Moines, Iowa; and David Byrd (Bethany) of Gilbert, Arizona; grandchildren Scott Byrd (Katleho) of Houston, Texas; Kayla Reardon (Kyle) of Alexandria, Virginia; Caroline Edgeton (Jon) of Urbandale, Iowa; Allison Roemmich (Ben) of West Des Moines, Iowa; Josh Gowdy of Ames, Iowa; and Joe Gowdy of Buda, Texas; great-grandsons Jackson Gowdy of Madrid, Iowa, and Leo Edgeton of Urbandale, Iowa; sisters Imajean Miller (Bill) of Albany, Indiana; Lynn Partin of LaFollette, Tennessee; and Julie Roberts of LaFollette, Tennessee; and brother Tom Byrd (Rayma) of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Don is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and other extended family members, including Bob Hornbrook of West Des Moines and Lisa Lavia Ryan of Urbandale. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Alice Faye Byrd and Joyce Ellis; and brothers Johnny Byrd and Randy Byrd.

Don's grand-dogs Bubba and Sasha were special to him, so the family asks that any memorial contributions be made in Don's name to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, 5452 N.E. 22nd St., Des Moines, Iowa 50313. Online donations can be accepted at

The Byrd family would like to thank the Skilled Rehabilitation staff at The Village at Legacy Pointe in Waukee, Iowa, and the staff at Taylor House Hospice in Des Moines, Iowa, for caring for Don with kindness and compassion during his final days.

Funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday morning, June 5, 2018, at the Straight Fork Baptist Church in Huntsville, Tennessee, with Rev. Delmar McCowan and Rev. Eugene McCowan officiating. Speakers will include Wayne Ahart, Scott Byrd, Kayla Hornbrook-Reardon and Allison Roemmich. Violinist Kathleho Byrd will perform at graveside. Burial will follow in the Adkins Cemetery.

Pallbearers will be Travis Webb, Michael Webb, Tom Byrd, Ben Roemmich, Scott Byrd, David Byrd, Jerry Byrd and Ron Byrd.

Four Oaks Funeral Home of Huntsville is in charge of the arrangements for the family of C. Donald “Don” Byrd.

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