School 13

Dr. Donald R. H. Byrd

1937 ~ 2020 (age 82)


Dr. Donald Ray Henderson Byrd 82 of Ansonville, died peacefully Sunday morning, July 5, 2020.

 A Celebration of Don’s life will be held at a later date.

Don was born August 16, 1937 in Norwood to the late Elza Van Byrd Jr. who was born in Norwood, Stanly County, NC and Sarah Corina “Sally” Henderson Byrd who was born in Capelsie, Montgomery County, NC.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his partner of 25 years, Athanassios Doumanidis, and brothers, Charles Ervin Byrd and Bobby Jerome Byrd.

His loving relatives include nephew and nieces, B. J. Byrd, Amanda Byrd Queen and Kimberly Byrd Bahr, Leighton Byrd, Elizabeth Grace Bahr and Hayes Queen; cousins, Judy Mullins and Sue Jereb and his longtime friends and caregivers, Marcio Carmo and Helena Hodgins.

Donald was an emeritus, tenured professor from the CUNY Graduate school, Hunter College, and LaGuardia College, where he founded various language programs.  He lived and worked in New York for 40 years.

After retiring from teaching in 1997, he returned to his native South to restore The Oaks, an antebellum plantation, in historic Ansonville, NC.  He restored this structure along with four other historic residences in Brooklyn and Greece.

His first professional year was teaching public school, in Mount Gilead, NC which preceded a year’s assignment in Ferguson High School in Newport News, VA.  Between teaching assignments he was employed by Page Church Furniture, Albemarle, NC as a furniture designer. 

His military obligation included two military branches:  The NC Air National Guard in Badin, NC and the US Army, where he served in an intelligence unit at the College of  William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA where he further met his military obligation with a top-secret clearance in the DOD and for the Department of State as an academic specialist, in Tripoli, Libya, where he furthered his Arabic and other language studies.

After receiving an A. B. degree from Davidson College, he earned a doctorate from UNC-CH, he resumed his status as an academic specialist and lecturer in linguistics and English in various international posts, including Greece and host of other countries where he was a lecturer.  He was awarded three Fulbright-Hays scholarships, the first was in Libya, North Africa, where he also completed a research study for the Gulf Arab states. His third Fulbright scholarship was at the University of Parana in Brazil; other South American academic assignments include Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.

Middle Eastern posts were in Syria, Jordan, Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey.  In the Far East, he also lectured in Korea, Japan and Thailand.  Other posts in Latin America include Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Brazil. Many of these posts were for USIA/Dept of State as an academic specialist while the preponderance focused on his textbooks and private consultancies in English language, linguistics, and teacher training. (The total number of his textbooks numbers over 36 titles.)

His most memorable occasion was a visit to the gravesite of a Cretan writer, Kazandhakis, whose simple words were chiseled on a crude, wooden marker at his gravesite, and epitaph that still echoes Kazandhakis’ and perhaps my own views about my own destination: “I have nothing; I want nothing; I expect nothing; At last, thank God almighty! …I’m free! Amen.”

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