Byron Lee Elmendorf
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Byron Lee Elmendorf was born on October 8, 1944 in Evansville, Indiana... but let's get to the part in every obituary he always wanted to read - how he died. Byron died on November 21, 2017 while playing in Hanalei Bay on Kauai, Hawaii with two of his grandchildren. Byron lived a great life and we hope when our time on this earth is up, we are all lucky enough to go wearing Hawaiian shorts, doing something we love, with the people we love most. Byron was the son of Nancy and Albert Elmendorf and the younger brother of Ken Elmendorf, all of who preceded him in death. He grew up in Evansville, Indiana and was an All-State athlete in football and wrestling. During his freshmen year at Indiana State University, he met his ultimate partner in adventure, Becky Barnes. They met in a calculus class where Byron quickly realized that it would be easier to marry a math major than to be one. This would also allow him to pursue a career in recreation. He became the University's first graduate with a degree in Parks and Recreation. Upon graduation, Byron joined the Marine Corps in 1966. After Officer Candidate School at Quantico, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton. Byron married Becky in the summer of 1967. He then had to leave her in a beachfront house in Oceanside, California, to enjoy the jungles of Vietnam during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Byron faithfully served the United States Marine Corps for 29 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel. Post-Vietnam, Byron and Becky moved to Flagstaff, Arizona where he started his career in parks and recreation and both began and ended his Hollywood movie career. Please enjoy his 31 second performance as "Trooper #2" in the western movie classic, The Bravos. The movie role, combined with parachuting onto a cactus, and being bucked off his rodeo horse, led Byron to realize the Flagstaff box had been checked. He and Becky then moved to Michigan where Byron earned his Masters Degree in Community Education. In 1972, Byron and Becky moved to Vancouver, Washington where Byron was the assistant Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Vancouver. In 1973, they welcomed their son, Tyson, and a year later, their daughter, Amy. In 1978, the family moved north to Bellingham where Byron finally laid down his roots. He was named the City's first Director of the combined Parks and Recreation Department. His first project was the development of Boulevard Park, which, along with the building of the aquatics center, remained two of his proudest accomplishments. Byron enjoyed serving the City of Bellingham for 23 years. He was a do-er and a decision maker. He made many friends along the way, as well as a handful of critics who did not appreciate his unique style of leadership. Everyone was always allowed to vote, but the only vote that ever counted was Byron's. We can't tell the story of Byron's life and not talk about his many friendships. His friends were very important to him and he LOVED to entertain... often pairing a meal with a "Ten Cent Tour" of all of the City's parks. Byron was truly Bellingham's best ambassador. Whether it was a lifelong friend, or someone he had just met, everyone was welcome at the Elmendorf house. After retiring at age 55, he made the most of it. He loved the outdoors. He spent his days on the water in numerous boats fishing, crabbing, or just enjoying the islands. On land, he treasured his time golfing with his buddies of 27 years, affectionately known as "The Buttheads." A perfect end of the day was watching the sun set over Bellingham Bay from his deck. All activities were better with a cold beer in hand. He followed Becky around the world on all of her crazy trips. He was happy to go wherever she wanted, yet always compared every exotic location to something that could be found in Washington State for thousands of dollars less. Byron is survived, loved, and missed by his wife of 50 years, Becky, children Tyson (Shannon) and Amy (Patrick), and his four grandchildren - Charlie, Jack, Griffin, and Gretchen - and his chocolate lab, Mousse, along with countless friends he considered to be family. Please join us for a celebration of Byron's life on Thursday, December 7th, at 11:00 A.M. at First Presbyterian Church, 1031 Garden Street, with a reception to follow at the Squalicum Boathouse at Zuanich Point Park, 2600 North Harbor Loop Drive. You may share memories with the family at The best way to honor our beloved husband, father, and Bubba, is to spend time outdoors with those you love. SEMPER FI.

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Published in Bellingham Herald on Nov. 25, 2017.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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18 entries
December 8, 2017
JOY! HOPE! A fond and loving farewell to Byron from his wonderful family and that idea that Byron's friends are his souvenirs! Will enjoy Byron's incredible sense of humor on the bookmark with 7 Byronisms to Embolden our Lives. Becky, Ty and Amy,....You thought of everything and reminded us all of the need to have fun and spread laughter.
Loved the beginning of the celebration service yesterday with the pictures of Byron running into the surf in 19678 & 2017 and the ending with Reveille! How perfect!
Thanks for reminding us all how to live and love!!
Garrulous Gail
Gail Haines
December 7, 2017
Becky and Family, sorry for your loss and my deepest condolences go out to you all. I will miss Captain Byron and all the conversations we had down at the Harbor, couldn't think of a better boat neighbor.
Chad and Magan Waltari
December 4, 2017
How many of you remember the "nickname" Byron was given when he needed to have some trees cut down? BUZZ ELMENDORF..I used to call him that affectionately at times and always got that READY smile and laughter.
Wish we could clone whatever it was in Byron's DNA to be able to make everyone laugh and feel good. He was a treasure and his daily presence in our lives will be missed.
With great memories of Byron and his wonderful wife, Becky,
Gail and Marty
Gail Haines
December 2, 2017
We have Byron to thank for much of what is beautiful about our city. I always enjoyed working with Byron and especially enjoyed his rich sense of humor.
Del Lowery
November 29, 2017
Sorry Byron you're too young to miss so much but you've seen and done so much. Thank you!! I'm so encouraged to see your fun with the grand babies in Hawaii. I'm in Mexico so can't be at your gathering but thanks for all your service to our community. Ken and Kathy Hertz
Ken Hertz
November 29, 2017
Becky,Ty, Amy, Words cannot express my sorrow for the loss of Byron. I had the pleasure of working with him at city hall for over 10 years. We got off to a rough start but he and i became good friends. He was all about Bellingham. He always did what was right maybe not popular but in the best interest of our city. He was a great man and he will be missed by many. He made us laugh during tough issues and gave us all a tough spine to stand up and do what was right. All i can say now is "SLEEP MY
BROTHER MAY PEACE BE WITH YOU" Gene Knutson Bellingham City Council
Gene Knutson
November 29, 2017
Becky, you were our neighbors when we lived on Morey for several years. We had some fun times when the children were small and the four of us were young. Byron had a contagious constant smile was yours. Blessings and peace to you and your family.
Andy (and Terry) Olsen
November 28, 2017
Byron was such a great guy and I am so sorry to hear of his passing.
Mick Moynihan
November 28, 2017
My sincere condolences. Find comfort in the God who is close to the brokenhearted.
November 27, 2017
Very sorry to hear of Mr. Elmendorf's passing. He was a good neighbor and was quick to lend a hand whenever a tree was blown over in our yard. Best wishes to the Elmendorfs.
Mark Schwindt
November 27, 2017
Becky and family,
Truly your Byron, the guy with the wonderful smile, joyous laugh and a heart for public service, will be missed. God bless each of you.
Sharon and Lee McConnel
November 27, 2017
Our hearts are saddened by your loss and our thoughts and prayers are with your family. May your precious memories of your time together help with the pain. May God comfort your hearts and give you peace. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
November 26, 2017
So sorry to hear of Byron's passing. Condolences to Becky.
Joe Boyd
November 25, 2017
We enjoyed being with yall on Monday. Sending hugs.
Chuck and Steph Ashton
November 25, 2017
May you find comfort in the memory of Byron's big ol' grin!
Carleen Strasser
November 25, 2017
Who would know that when Byron left Bellingham for the last time so many would notice -- no, feel -- his absence not only from this city but this world. We join with so many others in saying we already miss him so much. He was a great husband, father, friend, citizen, and patriot. We loved him, and now we salute him. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Terry & Cheryl Noffsinger
November 25, 2017
I interacted with Byron for several years while I was a City Hall reported for The Bellingham Herald. Besides always being helpful to this reporter, Byron was always a kick to talk to. He had a great sense of humor and a free-wheeling willingness to express what was on his mind, a welcome trait compared to many other elected or appointed officials.
Dean Kahn
November 25, 2017
To soon gone. The firm handshake, the pat on the shoulder and always with a genuine smile. Sounds like you left us in style.
Gods blessings to all those left behind to carry on your enthusiastic lust for life.
Philip X Hageman
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