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Wilford Ray Bytheway

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Wilford Ray Bytheway Obituary
1920 - 2013
Born on November 21, 1920, in Salt Lake City, W. Ray "Bud" Bytheway died peacefully at his home on February 3, 2013, at age 92. Alert, cognizant, self-sufficient, and in relatively good health until only his last couple of months, Ray would be the first to attest that he led a long, happy, and deeply fulfilling life.
Ray was the third of five children born to Wilford Kendrick Bytheway (1895-1971) and Eunice Agnes Henderson Bytheway (1896-1970). Of these, his oldest sister, Donna Larson (1918-2005), and his youngest brother, Jack (1926-2004) preceded him in death. He is survived by his older sister, Phyllis Malone (1919-) of Ogden, his younger brother, "Ben" (1922-) of Seattle, WA, his sister-in-law, Jack's widow Diane (1930-) of SLC, and numerous nephews and nieces.
Ray's friends and family members will always recall his vivid tales of the wondrous events and changes he witnessed throughout his life. Born shortly after the end of World War I, he grew up at a time when only operators could place telephone calls, few people could afford to own an automobile, the most common means of local transportation were electric trolleys, and the principal form of entertainment was evening radio broadcasts. When a boy he developed a lifelong love of animals, particularly horses, and to this day one can still find his favorite black stallion in the merry-go-round at Liberty Park.
After his graduation from South High School, Ray became part of a two-man, one-woman dance team that entertained throughout the western states. He adopted the stage name "Buddy Niles," and family members still prefer to call him "Bud." Unfortunately, the team had to disband when the political turmoil overseas erupted in World War II, and Ray and his two brothers all volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy. During his initial training, Ray emerged at the top of his class with a unique skill as a signalman, a talent that he often attributed to his ability as a tap dancer. He subsequently was assigned as the communications officer on various supply ships during the war, where his crucial duties consisted of receiving, interpreting, and sending messages using lights, flags, and Morse code transmissions. He subsequently sailed to practically all corners of the globe, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, to Australia, Indonesia, India, through both the Suez and Panama Canals, the Mediterranean, and the North Atlantic. Some of his most dangerous voyages consisted of truly horrific storms in high seas and being relentlessly pursued across the Pacific Ocean by a German U-boat.
After the war ended, Ray returned home to SLC and met his lifelong intimate partner, G. Keith Judd (1922-1998), at a social event for returning servicemen. Ray and Keith forged a loyal and loving life together, both privately and professionally, despite the cultural prejudices of the time toward same-sex orientation. Not long after they met, they went to work for the Hollywood Beauty College, with Keith as the business manager and Ray as the director of education, which eventually expanded to include salons and training schools throughout the western states. For decades, Ray would travel to the various branches to give workshops and tutorials to other hair stylists. He published illustrated texts with his techniques and won top awards in competitions. Thanks to Ray's and Keith's strong work ethic, the College became one of the prime hair salons on Main Street in SLC for many years. As a result of having grown up during the Great Depression, they prudently and systematically saved their earnings and avoided debt whenever possible. Eventually they invested their savings in real estate, and from the 1960s onward owned and maintained an apartment complex near the University of Utah to supplement their income.
Ray was always kind and generous to a fault. Even though the cost-of-living increased through the years, he always resisted raising the rent on his tenants, whom he came to care for as though they were his family. He personally kept their premises in pristine shape, upgrading the appliances and maintaining the plumbing, fixtures, carpets, windows, and coverings whenever needed. Consequently, many of his tenants thus continued to occupy his apartments for literally decades.
Ray had an exceptional green thumb, and the large garden behind his home was a wonder to behold. In addition to several fruit trees, he grew all his own vegetables, every fall would can more than enough produce to last throughout the year, and became prolific at cultivating a wide variety of flowers which he then would transplant to the apartment complex and give away to relatives, neighbors, and friends far and wide. He was also a gifted artist, and many of his extended family members to this day display his original paintings in their homes. One of his greatest joys was music, and he acquired a large collection of records, and later cassette tapes, that he would often listen to in the evenings. He likewise enjoyed movies, and with the advent of newer technology, he started to collect videotapes of the classics he had originally seen in the theaters many years previously.
When the College was sold to a new owner, Ray and Keith retired to enjoy their golden years together, but shortly thereafter the latter suffered a pulmonary embolism and died. Having been together for more than half-a-century, Keith's death was an emotional blow for Ray, and he had to adjust to a new, unfamiliar, more solitary existence throughout his 80s and early 90s. His failing eyesight due to macular degeneration limited his abilities even further so that, a few years ago, he had to give up driving, something he had truly relished when younger. True to form, he refocused his caring nature to take loving care of his cats, who became his constant companions. His little feline girl, Annie, who lived with him her entire life, was right next to him when he died.
Family members will remember "Bud" as the soft-spoken, kind, and thoughtful son, brother, and uncle who was always a dependable contributor to their holidays and reunions. Although most of his friends and acquaintances are no longer in this world, the younger generations who knew him will sorely miss his quiet, loving nature. His life was exemplary; his integrity beyond reproach; the world is a better place because he was once among us. Indeed, his generosity and kindness extend beyond the grave: in his will he bequeathed the bulk of his estate to the Red Cross and Primary Children's Hospital.
We wish to publicly express our thanks to Home Instead and Legacy Hospice for the attentive care they gave to "Bud" during his final months so that he could remain in his own home to the end. Those who wish to honor Ray's memory are welcome to attend a Memorial Service at Larkin Mortuary, 260 E. So. Temple, on Saturday, February 16, at 1:00 PM with a visitation one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers or other forms of remembrance, please consider making a token donation to those same organizations above or to an animal charity.


Published in Salt Lake Tribune from Feb. 13 to Feb. 14, 2013
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