Warren Turnbull Byrd, Sr. — “Chug” to his family and friends — passed gently away at his home in Vienna, Sunday, Dec. 22. He was 90 years young.
Born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Crisfield, Sept. 2, 1923, Chug lived and worked most of his life in Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia. Between his high school years and completing his degree in agronomy from the University of Maryland in 1951, he served in the Armed Forces in Bakersfield, Calif., and held several positions with the Department of Commerce and the USDA in Beltsville, Md.
In 1952 he took a position with the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked until early retirement in 1972. He married Betty Jo Jackson of Abernathy, Texas on Dec. 23, 1952. They raised five children, primarily in Vienna, Va., though three of the children were born while the family was posted overseas in Cyprus and Okinawa.
After his retirement, Chug started the Vienna Landscape and Garden Service which he ran for 12 years, perhaps in partial fulfillment of his love of people, plants and the land. He later returned to the CIA as a part-time private contractor, where he worked until just a few years ago.
Chug loved music, excelled at telling stories (especially tall tales), had a robust sense of humor, adored his wife and family, was loyal to all members of his extended family, and treasured his time out of doors — particularly in his beloved garden.
Besides his wonderful singing voice, his constant companion was his harmonica. He and his wife created some beautiful harmonies.
In every realm of business and play, he was a natural leader, creating a strong sense of loyalty and camaraderie among his fellow coworkers, staff and team members. He was an Eagle Scout who later became Scout Master to several Boy Scout troops. He also served as the manager of a championship Vienna Babe Ruth baseball team. He was a natural athlete who appreciated the value of sport. He was a Golden Gloves boxer during his college years.
He was a member of Toastmasters, and prized his many years participating, with his wife, in a Personal History writing class at the Vienna Community Center.
Chug had that special ability to inspire those around him — family, sons, daughters, friends and colleagues — to accomplish more than they thought they were capable of. He always went out of his way to help others. He delighted in the simplest pleasures and treasures of life — family gatherings, good food, spirited song, the comings and goings of birds and squirrels, the seasonal ebbs and flows of the plant kingdom.
He loved having his hands in the soil, a song in his heart, a sonnet in his head. His feet were planted firmly in the earth, while his head made company with the clouds.
He was a wonderful writer and a righteous fighter: a man of some girth, considerable mirth and immeasurable worth. He will be missed, but his wonderful spirit and his abiding influence will live on forever.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Betty Jo; a son, Warren, Jr. and his wife Sue and their daughter, Susanna; a son, Duncan and his wife Tracy and their son Duncan, Jr. and daughter Whitney; a daughter, Susan, and her husband, Edward Lubert, and their sons Mason and Noah; a son, David, and his wife, Sharon, and their son Nate and daughter Kelly; and a daughter, Elizabeth. He is also survived by his brothers Willis and Jack. Chug was preceded in death by his brother, Gene, who he considered his best friend.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations may be sent to the Nature Conservancy. You might also consider planting a tree in his memory.
Memorial services and internment will be private.
(Editor's note: The obituary was provided to Patch by the Byrd family.)