B. Rowe Byers Ph.D. (1936 - 2013)

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B. Rowe Byers, PhD.

Madison, MS

On June 26, 2013 Benjamin Rowe Byers, PhD. passed away at Hospice Ministries after a brave struggle with a prolonged serious illness. "Rowe" will be remembered as a loving and generous husband, father, grandfather, teacher and friend. As a professor of Microbiology at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine from 1967 to 2007 he taught countless medical, dental and graduate students, most of whom still practice in the state of Mississippi. His gentle wit and wisdom will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

Rowe was the son of the late Reverend Andrew Byers and the late Pauline Rowe Byers of Austin, Texas. He was born in Austin, Texas and grew up in several towns throughout Texas where his father, a Presbyterian minister, pastored churches. He graduated from Alice High School in 1954 and then attended the University of Texas at Austin where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology in 1958 and a Master of Science degree in microbiology in 1960. After working for two years as an industrial bacteriologist for Fleischmann Lab in Chicago, Illinois he returned to The University of Texas and received a Doctorate degree in Microbiology in 1966. After a 1 year post-doctoral fellowship at The University of Texas he joined the faculty of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine as an assistant professor in microbiology. In 1977 he was named a full professor of microbiology and remained there as a tenured active faculty member until his retirement. At the time of his death he was still Professor-Emeritus in the Department of Microbiology at UMMC. As a highly respected research scientist he was the recipient of several research grants and awards, had served as a Member of the National Council, American Society for Microbiology, and was the author or co-author of numerous scientific publications regarding iron metabolism in bacteria and the relationship to disease manifestation and prevention in humans. He was still active in this endeavor until just before his death and had in fact recently served as editor of a book regarding the development of potential new drugs to treat Tuberculosis.

Rowe was always a proud and true Texan. The state flag of Texas was often seen flying over his home in Madison, Mississippi. He was the direct descendant of Reuben Hornsby, an early pioneer Texan who in 1830 built the first cabin in the area that eventually became Austin, Texas. He was proud to still own and protect what was left of the Hornsby Bend ranch; property that includes the original family cemetery where countless ancestors, several of whom were Texas Rangers and some considered pioneer heroes in the history of Texas, lay in rest.

He was preceded in death by his brave grandson Callaghan Byers of Jackson. Surviving him is his college sweet heart, the love of his life and best friend Jo Byers with whom he shared fifty-six years of marriage. Also surviving him are his sons Dr. Michael Byers and his wife Michelle of Brandon, and Dr. Paul Byers and his wife Angela of Jackson. He was the devoted "Ro-Ro" to several grandchildren: Lindsey Kay, Chelsea Byers, Lyris Byers, Courtney Byers, Christopher Byers, and Larken Byers; as well as two great-grandchildren, Madison Kay and Audrey Kay. He was the loving uncle to Tony Palasota and Lisa Carver of Dallas, Texas.

Family and friends are invited to visitation at Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home on Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland, MS Sunday, June 30 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Visitation will also be held at St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson MS on Monday, July 1 from 9:00 am until the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00am. There will be a graveside service on Wednesday, July 3 at 11:00 am at the Hornsby family cemetery in Austin when Rowe will be returned to his beloved Texas.

Memorials in honor of Rowe may be made to The (www.stjude.org), or to The National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org).

For online condolences go to www.wrightferguson.com.

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Published in Clarion Ledger from June 29 to July 1, 2013
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