Donald Byers

HAMPTON - In memory of Donald J. Byers, born March 12, 1932, died May 2, 2013 in Eagan, Minnesota. A native of Washington, D.C., Don lived for five years in Leesburg, Va., and moved to Aldie, Va. in 1973. At his retirement in 1998, Don moved with his wife Julia to Hampton, Va., and they finally moved in 2003 to Eagan, Mn. Don was the son of Jason Harold and Jean Campbell Byers of Washington, D.C. Don was selected as a 1950 runner-up in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search for senior high school students in Washington, D.C. He was a 1954 graduate of Cornell University, and served three years as a pilot and radar operations officer with the United States Air Force. He graduated from single-engine pilot class 56-L at Laredo, Texas, was the Operations Officer of the 502nd Tactical Control Group at Cheju-Do, Korea. During his tour in 1956-57, he commanded an early-warning radar site. Don's father and grandfather were also veterans, and both are interred in Arlington National Cemetery. A founder and director of the American Inventor's Association, Don held four U.S. Patents, and at one time was the youngest patented inventor on record. His first patent, applied for when he was thirteen, was granted for a design for dropping objects from model aircraft. He experimented with early underwater equipment and was an experienced diver, and two of his patents were for improvements in underwater camera housings. His last patent was for improvements in bad weather instrument landing systems at airports. After the Air Force, Don spent most of his career as an editor. He worked for the Washington Post and United Press International before becoming a magazine editor for the Air Traffic Control Association. Don also worked for five years as an information officer for the Federal Aviation Administration while also serving as the office pilot. Don served as an FAA spokesman for related subjects, and for crash and hijack news reports from 1958 to 1963. From there, Don worked at Merkle Press, Kelly Press, and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, all located in Washington, D.C. He was Managing Editor of the Catering Industry Employer for twenty years. Don also wrote free lance articles for many publications, primarily on aviation and travel subjects. His last published article, for the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) Flight Training Magazine in December, 2003, discussed stability and control of the 1903 Wright brothers' Flyer. Don's final editing task was to assist his Daughter Catherine with her book 4 Steps to A Great New Job, published in 2009. He was a docent at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton during his retirement, and he produced historical videos of area veterans' stories for the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project. Don's wife of forty-nine years, Julia, passed away on June 7, 2008. He is survived by three sons and two daughters: son Andrew Caton Byers and his wife Karen, who live in Stephens City, VA.; daughter Jennifer Frederick of Seattle, WA.; son Duncan Byers of Norfolk, VA.; son Cameron Byers and his wife Michele of Fallon, NV.; and daughter Catherine Breet and her husband Stefan of Eagan, MN. Don is also survived by ten grand- and step-grandchildren: Chadwick William Byers, Charles Cameron Byers, Michael Andrew Byers, Daniel Jason Byers, Tyler David Frederick, Madison Elise Frederick, Jan Frederick Adriaan Breet, Peiter Jacobus Stefanus Breet, Michaella Rose Sharpe and Gabrielle Nicole Sharp. A public service was held on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at one o'clock p.m. at the Commons on Marice, 1380 Marice Drive, Eagan MN, 55121. Donations may be made in his name to the Virginia Air and Space Center located at 600 Settlers Landing Rd., Hampton, VA 23669. Any other communications should be made c/o Duncan G. Byers: 142 West York St., Suite 910, Norfolk VA 23510; 757.227.3340; duncan.byers@byerslawgroup.

Published in Daily Press on May 21, 2013