Services for Jerry Barksdale Byrd, Sr.:
3631 Southern Avenue
Monday, April 25, 2016 at 1:00pm
Please see complete obituary below:
Jerry Barksdale Byrd, Sr.
Jerry Barksdale Byrd Sr. passed away on Thursday, April 21st after a brief illness at the age of 80 years old. Funeral Services will be held Monday, April 25th at 1 p.m. at Osborn Funeral Home in Shreveport. Interment will be held at Sharon Baptist Cemetery in Union Parish at 3:30 p.m. A visitation will be held at Osborn on Sunday, April 24th from 5-7 p.m.
Jerry was born on October 4th, 1935. He was the second of Frank Carl and Annie Laura Byrd’s four sons.
He was born to write. His work first appeared in the Shreveport Journal on December 22nd, 1948 when the first of his weekly scouting reports detailed Troup 29’s activities. As he would recall later, it was “love at first byline.” The troop’s 13 year old scribe would go on to become the first boy scout in the Norwella Council to win the the Quill Scroll Award given to scouts who publish over 20,000 words. It would be the first of many awards as Jerry would go on to become one of the most decorated sports journalists in Louisiana history.
While in junior high school he was a left tackle on Coach Frank Pernici’s 7th grade Hamilton Terrace Terrors. The team went unbeaten, untied, and unscored on. Despite the team’s success, Jerry realized after his freshmen year at Byrd High School and sophomore year at Bossier High School that he belonged in the press box and not the field. He transferred to Fair Park High School his junior year to take advantage of a program that helped him with his speech. He found his niche on the school’s newspaper, the Pow Wow, becoming sports editor his senior year before graduating in May of 1953.
He attended Northwestern State College and majored in journalism. It was here that he met many life long friends, many of whom he crossed paths with as a manager on the Demon basketball team. It was here where he would experience his greatest athletic accomplishment winning an intramural cross country race. He continued to shine with his journalism endeavors becoming the sports editor and then elected as editor of the school’s newspaper, the Current Sauce, during his senior year. He graduated on May 28, 1957 and started work at 6 a.m. the following morning at the Shreveport Journal.
It was an underwhelming beginning. The first two days consisted of reading the Associated Press Style book. The third day on the job he had his first article – “Entries Pouring In for Junior Olympics.” About 10 years later, despite the racially charged culture that existed at the time, it was Jerry who took a picture of Valencia High School’s Lavert Howard and put it the sports section without asking. He would later write that he did it because it was “the right thing to do.”
In 1970 Jerry would become Sports Editor of the paper and would remain in that capacity until the Journal ceased publication in 1991. The most famous accomplishment was having a column in every weekday edition for over six years. “The streak” ended at 2,131 – one more than Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games as a New York Yankee – due to a faulty gall bladder.
After his time at Journal he would serve as the sports editor of the Minden Press Herald for one year before moving to the Bossier Press Tribune, where he would serve in that capacity from 1993-2012. He continued to write columns for one more year.
In 1992 he became the first person to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Track & Field Coaches Association. He is the only sportswriter to be selected “Mr. Basketball” by the Louisiana Basketball Coaches Association. In 1996 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Sportswriters Association. In 2001 he became only the second sportswriter to be inducted in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. In 2005 he received the Contribution to Amateur Football award from the S.M. McNaughton Chapter of the National Football Foundation.In 2006 he received the Nth Degree from Northwestern State University for lifetime achievement. In 2012 he was inducted into the Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum of Champions.
When he wasn’t writing columns or accepting awards he was coaching hundreds of youth swimmers as a coach for the City of Shreveport Swim Team, or motivating future Olympic athletes by buying them icees as the founder and coach of the Shreveport Track Club. He was also organizing events like the High Five Track & Field Series or the Meet of Champions.
Husband. Brother. Father. Sportswriter. Legend. Icon. It became difficult for great writers to find words adequate enough to encapsulate his legacy. Jerry would often write about other athletes, coaches, or people that they may not be in a class by themselves, but it doesn’t take long to call the roll. While that may be appropriate in this case, his family, friends, colleagues agreed with the opinion that was plastered on Shreveport Journal delivery trucks. Jerry Byrd …Nobody does it better.
Most are blessed if they find one true love in this life. Jerry found two. He married the former Patricia “Pat” Ann Hood on June 12, 1965. The couple had two children – Tricia and Jerry Jr. Pat passed away on November 22nd, 2001. Jerry met Barbara Copeland in June of 2003 and the couple were married two months later.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Frank Carl Byrd and Annie Laura Byrd, and his first wife Patricia Ann Hood.
He is survived by his wife Barbara, son Jerry Jr. and his wife Amanda, daughter Tricia Hagan, brothers Ronald James Byrd and wife Donna, John Alan Byrd and wife Delaine, and Thomas Everett Byrd and wife Kay, grandchildren Logan Ward, Dakota Ward, Jordan Ward, Caleb Stacey, Caitlin Byrd, Emily Bailey, and Katy Bailey, as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Honoring Jerry as pallbearers will be his grandsons as well as Kevin Cavalier and Hunter Cavalier. Honorary pallbearers are all of the journalists that worked with Jerry over his 50 years in print journalism as well as the great number of coaches and athletes that he was blessed to cover.
The family would like to thank Montclair Shreveport for the loving care they provided Jerry for the past eight months of his life.
The family suggests that memorials be made to the NSU Foundation, 535 University Pwy., Natchitoches, LA 71497 attention: Jerry Byrd Communications Department.
Osborn Funeral Home
3631 Southern Avenue