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James Artemus Byrd

James Artemus Byrd

July 3, 1935 - October 13, 2019

James (Jim) Artemus Byrd, 84, of Wilmington, Delaware, passed away peacefully at home after a brief illness on October 13, 2019. He was born to parents Sewell Dennis Byrd and Grace McCallister Byrd (Engberg) on July 3, 1935 in Clifton Forge, Virginia and was raised in West Virginia. <br /> <br /> After he graduated from P. S. DuPont High School in 1953, he went on to The King's College in Briarcliff Manor, NY where he earned a BS degree in history in 1960. He then went to Temple University in Philadelphia and graduated with an MEd in 1965. <br /> <br /> Jim worked first as a geography and English teacher at Springer Junior High School, and then after earning his Masters degree, he became a Guidance Counselor at Christiana Junior High/High School where he worked for 37 years. He was the President of the Delaware Guidance Counselors Association. Upon retirement, he became a Clinical Advisor at Wilmington University. In addition, he owned multiple rental properties and was CFO of his family-owned business-later named Byrd's Nest, LLC-from 1976 until his death. <br /> <br /> He enjoyed sports, travel, camping, gardening, spending time and volunteering at church, tinkering on anything mechanical, and spending time with family. He and his wife-both educators-took their family on epic summer vacations, and managed to take their children to over 4O states, Europe, and North and Central America, and the Caribbean. They also took many trips with their grandchildren to Europe. In their retirement years, James and Charlotte travelled to: all 50 states, Europe, Egypt, the Holy Land, Russia, China, Antarctica, South America, went on safari in Africa and on many cruises. <br /> <br /> Jim had a gift and passion for fixing things. He was equally right and left brained such that he was both analytical/logical and creative/compassionate. He was an excellent doodler and sketch artist. His sense of humor was unparalleled, and he often used humor to defuse situations and lighten the mood. He was best known for his uncanny ability to make puns, a quality he maintained even in his last days to the delight of his family and caregivers. He was very mechanically minded. He could make furniture, and was the quintessential handyman. In addition, he had uncommon compassion and empathy, and both of these qualities served him well as a counselor, church leader, parent, husband, Boys Brigade leader, and neighbor. If something was broken, Jim wanted to see it fixed. If a person was broken, Jim wanted to see them made whole. If a person or family was in need, he sought to bring them to a place of "enough". To that end he always brought to bear all his talents, his generosity, empathy, compassion, and creativity to create solutions that would fix anything that was broken or serve anyone in need. It gave him great pleasure to do so and was a driving force in his life. He was a trustee and general fix-it-guy for every church he was a member of. At the age of 70, he went to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to rebuild houses. To know Jim was to know that he was competent and compassionate and that-in his capable hands-your needs would be cared for. <br /> <br /> Jim was very thrifty...he could pinch a penny until Lincoln wept (seriously...he saved all the tiny pieces of soap in a recycled jar, added water and made liquid soap long before Soft Soap was invented). Tubes of toothpaste were mined for every last bit. "Repurpose-Reuse-Recycle" was one of his mottos long before it was in vogue. He loved picking up a box lot (or two...or three) at the auction and he never was too proud to pick up a treasure off the curb if opportunity presented itself. He saved everything for a rainy day, and at his passing his family was blessed to have more electrical cords than a large box store and more vacuum cleaners stored in the basement than the rest of the neighborhood combined! In an era before "carbon footprints" and GPS and automatic thermostats, he had an energy-savings plan figured out: he always knew the shortest routes between points A and B, how to save gas by avoiding idling at stoplights, and when the best time of day to run the dishwasher was. He was economical, but he wasn't cheap. He was generous to the Nth degree, and his family never did without the extras. Nor did his friends, neighbors or those in his circle of influence. Because he was so gifted in penny-pinching, there were more resources to spread within the community and he was able to give to others richly. And yet, he was humble about this. It may be that you benefitted from his frugality or were the recipient of his generosity but never knew it. Many families from the school where he was a board member were never aware who it was that picked up their child's school tuition when a parent lost a job or some other life tragedy happened. He never met a stranger, never had an enemy and saved everything he encountered, whether it be a stray dog, wayward youth, furniture left by the curb, or a stranger...he saw the beauty and value in everything and always had an inherent desire to rescue, redeem, restore, rehabilitate, or re-home it all. To him, everything was a treasure. <br /> <br /> Beside his faith, his most important treasure was his family. Jim was a faithful and patient husband and father and gave his family a truly wonderful life. Jim met Charlotte Caroline Nasser in 1956, when his sister Barbara brought her home to Wilmington for a visit one weekend from college. They were married on 1959 in Briarcliff Manor, NY at The King's College by then college president Percy Crawford. They had three children, Tracy (1963), Jeffry (1965), and Brian (1968). In 1978, after his sister Barbara and her husband John Lasco were tragically killed in an airplane crash, Jim and Charlotte unhesitatingly adopted their three children: Tim Lasco (1963), Johanna Lasco (1965), and Mark Lasco (1969). His family loved him tremendously, and will miss his quiet strength and steadfastness...and his wry sense of humor and amazing puns. <br /> <br /> Jim was preceded in death by his father, Sewell Dennis (1965); his step-brother, Kenny Engberg (1977); his sister, Barbara Ann Lasco and her husband, John Lasco (1978); his twin grand-babies, Travis Alexander and Danielle Renee Lasco (1989); his mother, Grace Irene McCallister (1998), and his son, Brian James Byrd (October 17, 2018.) <br /> <br /> He is survived by his wife, Charlotte of 60 years. Five adult children: Tim Lasco (Pam), Tracy (John Dickerson); Jeffry (Mary), Johanna Watson (Patrick), daughter-in-law, Kristina Perkins Byrd, and Mark Lasco. 15 Grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Two brothers, Richard Byrd; and William Byrd of New Jersey; and cousin Robert Melton, of Ohio. And a host of nieces and nephews, and precious friends. <br /> <br /> The family has entrusted McCrery and Harra on Concord Pike in Wilmington, Delaware to provide cremation services.  Celebration of Life Services for Jim will be this coming Saturday (10/19) at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church Mount Lebanon Road, Wilmington, DE 19803. Pastor Nate Keeler and Pastor Gayle Ryle will officiate the ceremony. <br /> -Visitation will be from 3-4pm <br /> -Celebration of Life Service 4-5pm <br /> -Fellowship and Refreshments in the church's Fellowship Hall afterwards. <br /> <br /> In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider honoring Jim's life- which was a lived embodiment of the gospel- by going out into your community or realm of influence, your place of work, your school, your neighborhood, or your family and donate your time, energy, money, and your presence to your neighbor in need. To share condolences online, visit Jim's obituary on BeyondTheDash.com.

Services by
McCrery & Harra Funeral Homes and Crematory

3924 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE

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    So sorry for your loss. Jim was a very great man. I always enjoyed his humor & great conversation when I seen him.
    Dawn Hartzell Oct 20, 2019
    Charlotte, I recall how kind Jim was when Brian was renovating my bathrooms and ran into some problems. He called on his Dad and Jim came in to help solve the problems. Thank you for the beautiful obituary you have shared. It was so beautifully and lovingly written and helped me to want to be a better person, like Jim was.
    Ginny Kufta Oct 17, 2019
    Jim was a kind and funny man. Even in the last 2 weeks of his life, he had us laughing at his weird sense of humor. He touched many lives and I was proud to call him a friend. He will be missed by many but especially the love of his life, Charlotte. My prayers for peace for his family and friends.
    Margie Taylor Oct 17, 2019