Joe "Larry" Byrd '58 June 26, 2023 1:07 PM updated: June 26, 2023 1:44 PM
Joe L. "Larry" Byrd, Col. USAF (Ret)
December 18, 1935 - June 19, 2023
Colonel Joe Larry Byrd, USAF (Ret) went to be with our Lord and Savior on June 19, 2023. We know he is there celebrating with his mama, daddy, sister, brother-in-law, many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Larry, as he was known to anyone who knew him at all, was born in Waco, TX on December 18, 1935 to Joe Baily Byrd and Josephine Barron Byrd. He grew up on a farm near Mart, TX. He graduated from Mart High School in 1954. He headed to Texas A&M University, Class of '58, and graduated with a degree in Geology. He met his beloved wife, Vida Bess Brown, on a blind date set up by Vida's Baylor roommate, and Larry's cousin, shortly after graduation.
Larry headed into his career as a pilot in the United Sates Air Force immediately following their wedding in 1959. He served in the Strategic Air Command as a B-52 pilot and had an illustrious career. He was stationed all over the world which included an assignment in Vietnam during the war. He received his MS in Counseling and Guidance in 1972 from Troy State University.
Years later, while serving in a command position, he found out that there was a search for a Professor of Aerospace Studies, which was also the Vice Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, at Texas A&M University. This seemed like a dream assignment, so he threw his hat into the ring, thinking it was a longshot. He was given the assignment and it turned out that he was right - this truly was his dream assignment! Where else are you required to attend every TAMU football game as part of your job? Larry absolutely loved his time serving at TAMU, teaching young men and women what it takes to be an officer in the USAF. This was his last assignment in the Air Force, and he retired, completely fulfilled, in 1988. He returned to his rancher roots when he bought a cattle ranch in Emhouse in 1991. He ranched that until he fully retired in about 2015.
Through all his success, Larry was an extremely humble and honorable man. He loved God, family and this country and would have laid down his life for any of them. He enjoyed hunting and fishing. He earned his classification of marksman in both pistol and rifle at a young age and maintained it until he was well into his 70s.
No matter where the Air Force took him, Larry made sure to find a church home for him and his family. He taught Sunday School in several churches and was ordained as a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, AL. He was an active member of First Baptist Church of Corsicana from 1991 until his death.
Larry is preceded in death by his father, mother, sister Lynn DeOrnellas and brother-in-law Howard DeOrnellas.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 64 years, Vida Bess Brown Byrd, son David Byrd (Marie) of Leavenworth, KS, daughter Laura MacGregor (Douglas) of Corsicana, TX, three grandchildren Katy Byrd, Mark Byrd, and MacKenna MacGregor, niece Kathy Pliss and nephew Kevin DeOrnellas, as well as many cousins.