Judson Foster Byers

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    - Pam (Nyman) Zimmerman
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    - Chris Schaefer
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    - Tracy Bechtel
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    - Beth Test
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photoJudson Foster Byers, of Orem, Utah, passed away peacefully on Thursday, April 17, 2008, with his wife Mary Louise at his bedside.

Known as a man of great heart, generous spirit, and gentle humor, he will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 62 years, three sons, seven grandchildren, and the legions of friends he made in each of the communities in which he lived.

Born in Manchester, Iowa on March 20, 1923, Judson was the youngest of five children born to Judson Walter Byers and Effie Foster. At the beginning of the great depression, his father lost his construction business when the local governments could no longer pay the bills for their road building projects. The family then returned to St. George, Utah, where their ancestors had been among the first Mormon settlers dispatched to the area by Brigham Young. His father died suddenly shortly after returning to Utah, however, and the family migrated to the midwest in search of work, finally settling in Detroit, where Judson graduated from Northwestern High School.

Within a few months of graduation, Judson was called to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served for four years, seeing action in New Guinea and the Philippines.

When the war ended, he returned to Detroit to marry the love of his life, Mary Louise Batson, and raise a family. They were sealed for time and all eternity in the St. George Temple on May 14, 1948. For 10 years, he worked as a traveling salesman in southern and central Michigan. In 1956, he purchased a paint store in Midland, hoping to spend more time with his growing family. The store burned to the ground during the winter of 1957, but with the help of his many friends and his congregation, he managed to rebuild the business within a year. He soon earned a great reputation for his ethics and service to his customers, whom he treated almost as family. It was not unusual for him to call competitors to find out if they might be able to supply a customer with a product more suited to the customer's needs. He ultimately became a leader in the business community and served as the president of the Midland Downtown Business Association.

Although he never had the opportunity to attend college, he stressed the value of education to his children, ran for a seat on the Board of Education, and became a leading advocate for the public schools within the business community. Sending all three of his sons through college was one of his proudest achievements.

Upon his retirement from the business world, Judson and Mary Louise were called to serve a mission in Monroe, La. as genealogists for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Following their work in Monroe, they moved to Provo, Utah to complete a second mission, and continued their work as genealogists at the Family History Library at Brigham Young University for many years.

As the challenges to his health began to mount during the past four years, Judson and Mary Louise moved to the Summerfield Retirement Community, where they made many new friends who will attest that Judson maintained his grace and sense of humor until the very end of his life.

In addition to his wife, Mary Louise, Judson is survived by his son, Judson Thomas Byers, daughter-in-law Carol Lewis, and grandchildren, Dylan and Joseph Byers of Seattle, Wash.; son, David Bruce Sundwall-Byers and grandchildren Ian and Tom Sundwall-Byers of Concord, Calif.; and son, Lee Charles Byers, daughter-in-law Luene, and grandchildren Caitlyn, Alex, and Jessie Byers of Enoch, Utah.

His family and friends will gather for a memorial service at the Lakeview 1st Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1700 N. Geneva Road, Provo, Utah on Thursday, April 24, 2008. A viewing will begin at 11 a.m., with the memorial service beginning at noon. The burial will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 25, 2008, at the City Cemetery in St. George, Utah.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to "The Perpetual Education Fund" c/o The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in memory of Judson.
Published in Midland Daily News from Apr. 22 to Apr. 23, 2008