BYRD, Vern Sidney
Vern Byrd, our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend to many, passed away peacefully at home on January 29, 2020. Vern embodied the idealism, optimism and drive of his generation. He was endlessly devoted to both his immediate and extended families, and at the same time brought an inexhaustible energy to his real estate profession and his active support of community interests, including in particular the care of the poor and disadvantaged.
Vern was born in Polson Montana on February 20, 1936. He grew up in a large, hard-working family just outside Glacier National Park, a place he always considered to be the most beautiful on earth, and of which he was most proud. He graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 1955 and earned a bachelor's degree from Carroll College in 1960. He met and fell in love with Mary Hietpas while at Carroll College and they were married on September 12, 1959. They moved to the Spokane area in the early 1960s in pursuit of new opportunities. Together they raised eight children in Colbert, Washington on a small farm that also doubled as a character-building operation for their kids.
Vern was a prominent leader in Spokane commercial real estate. He worked his way up in the profession and partnered for a time with his lifelong friend, Rocky Rothrock, before establishing Vern Byrd and Associates, a thriving brokerage now known as Byrd Real Estate Group. He was very proud to have had several of his sons and a nephew follow him into real estate. Until the last years of his life he continued to show a passion for business and deal-making.
Just as important to Vern was his involvement in the Spokane community. He was an active member of the Catholic church, first as a parishioner at St Aloysius and later at St Joseph in Colbert. He and Mary hosted young Cuban refugees in the 1960s and stepped up to welcome and help newly-arrived Vietnamese refugee families in the 1970s. He supported the ministry of Catholic Charities all his adult life, often volunteering in person at the House of Charity in downtown Spokane. Vern also served on the Board of Gonzaga Prep, and in the 1990s was instrumental in initiating its “Fair Share” tuition program that has allowed thousands of young people to attend the school whose families could not otherwise afford it.
Of all things, Vern was most proud of his family. He had boundless love for Mary and their children and many grandchildren. He also maintained loving and close relationships with his siblings and their families. His family fondly remembers time spent with Vern at the lake, family trips to his beloved Montana, gathering for dinners and poker where all family and friends were welcome (especially those unskilled at poker), and being reunited regularly for weddings and other celebrations of life. They most treasure Vern’s relentless eagerness to do anything at any time to help his loved ones and those in need.
Vern is survived by his wife, Mary Byrd, his children and their families, Doug and Karen Byrd (Giacobbe and Grace), Greg and Kareena Byrd (Shafalika, Sheadon, Shanaya, Sitara, Sharissa, Shalini), Duane and Donna Byrd (Joshua, Camille and Shane Warren and their baby Emma Rose, Amelia and Hannah), Jeffrey and Kim Byrd (Aubrey and Joshua Soares, Emery, Isaac and Graham), LuAnn Byrd Charon (Annelise, Greyson, Ignatia and Quinlyn), Chere’ and Tom McKeirnan (Cael, Ella, Daniel and Cavan), Matthew and Stefani Byrd (Ruby and Jack) and Chadwick and Camilla Byrd (Kayah and Mia). He is also survived by his siblings, Irene Byrd, Claudette and Greg Wieck, Gabriella and Louie Egging, Chris and Maureen Byrd, Vicky Byrd Rink, Marie and Scott Johnston, Gerard and Loretta Byrd, Ovila and Renee Byrd, and his cousin Buddy Chef who was like a brother to him. Vern was preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Bernida Byrd, and brothers Duane, Billy, Leroy and Jim Byrd.
A Rosary will be held from 6 pm to 6:30 pm on Friday, February 7, 2020, and a vigil service will begin at 7 pm. Both services will be held at Gonzaga Prep’s Chapel of the Three Companions at 1224 Euclid Ave.
A Funeral Mass will be held on February 8, 2020 at 3:30 pm at St Joseph Parish in Colbert at 3720 E Colbert Rd., followed by a reception in the St. Joseph Parish Hall.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Vern’s memory to Gonzaga Prep or Catholic Charities of Spokane. To share memories of Vern and leave condolences for the family, please visit his tribute wall.
To send flowers to Vern's family, please visit our floral section.