DREAMLAND - Gerald (Jerry) Christian Byrd, 79, a resident of Dreamland, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, July 3, 2014.
Jerry was born on December 21, 1934, in Laurium, a son to Hewie and Marion Lydia Byrd, while they were visiting Marion's family during the Christmas holiday. A long-time resident of the Detroit, Michigan area, Jerry graduated from the Harvey H. Lowrey High School of Dearborn, Michigan in 1953. Jerry then attended Michigan Technological University on scholarship, graduating in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in forestry.
After graduating from Tech, Jerry was drafted into the US Army, where he completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He then served the remainder of his two-year service with the 3rd Infantry Division stationed in Bamberg, Germany.
Following his honorable discharge from the Army, Jerry returned to the U.S. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Coos Bay, Oregon and later in Park Falls, Wisconsin. It was in Park Falls that he met Mary Elizabeth Vuchetich, and they were wed in September 1962. Jerry and 'Liz' had three children, Mark Christian, Anne Kirsten, and James Patrick Byrd and raised their family in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Jerry went on to work for 18 years with the American Plywood Association, and in 1977, Jerry and his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Jerry and Liz divorced in 1980.
Jerry met Constance Jean Woytus and were married in 1982. Jerry later went into business for himself in 1986, creating Comp-U-Pallet, Inc., and in 1999, Jerry retired. He and 'Connie' enjoyed spending summers at his cottage in Dreamland. In the off-season, Jerry substitute taught in the Parkway and Ladue school districts in St. Louis, Missouri and was a volunteer naturalist at Busch Wildlife Conservation Area and Babler State Park in the St. Louis area.
Jerry was eagerly seeking to become a full-time resident of the Copper Country; he had sold his house in St. Louis this year, and moved to his family cottage while looking for a home in the Houghton-Hancock area. Jerry was a huge fan of the Detroit Red Wings and University of Michigan Wolverines football, and was an adept woodworker, building numerous power boats, a sailboat, and a 20-foot cabin cruiser. But most of all, Jerry loved fishing, especially for northern pike, smallmouth bass, and trout in the waters around the Copper Country. His irreverent, fun-loving nature and sense of humor will be missed by all who knew him.
Jerry is survived by his children, Mark Byrd, daughter-in-law, Melissa Byrd, Anne Pelletier and son-in-law, Eric Pelletier, and James Byrd; and his brothers and sisters in-law, Jose and Catherine Espinosa, David and Susan Woytus, Joseph and Monica Woytus, Michael and Laurie Woytus, and Marty and Barbara Woytus. Jerry is also survived by his three grandchildren, Katherine Elizabeth Byrd, Grace Kirsten Pelletier, and Gabriel Kristian Pelletier; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Jerry was preceded in death by both his parents, Hewie and Marion Byrd; his brother, Hugh James Byrd; his sister-in-law, Dorothy Byrd; his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Byrd; and his second wife, Constance Jean Byrd.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday July 9, 2014, from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Erickson-Crowley Funeral Home in Calumet, with a memorial service to be held at 11 a.m. with Pastor Bob White to officiate.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, donations are suggested to Michigan Technological University, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.