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H. Douglas Byles

H. DOUGLAS BYLES 1923-2003 Noted Pasadena architect H. Douglass Byles has died. He passed away January 10, 2003 in the home he had designed in Atascadero, California. He was schooled in the "post-and-beam" style of residental architecture that flourished in mid-century California. Ever sensitive to the needs of his clients and the site, he would weave his houses amongst trees and boulders, providing expanses of glass for visual relation between the outdoors and in. Shunning the "heroic" stance in design of some architects, he purposed an architecture of economy, believing his buildings were a background for the display of his clients' art, furnishings and life. It was a philosophy attractive to artists and art patrons. A man of broad vision, deeply altruistic, passionate about his profession, his com munity and life-long education, he joined numerous Pasadena organizations, rising to be president of many: Pasadena Area Liberal Arts Center, Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, Cultural Heritage, the Gamble House, Tournament of Roses, American Institute of Architects, American Arbitration Association. Born into a centuries-old, Connecticut family, he came to California with his parents and was raised in La Canada, attending Pasadena Schools. While a teenager he saw pictures of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and found his calling in life. He joined the Marines, served in its Air Corps, and saw action in the Pacific during WWII. He returned to school after the war graduating from the University of Southern California with a B.A in Architecture in 1949. Apprenticing with architect Whitney Smith he briefly partnered later with Eugene Weston and William Rudolph. Recalled to the Marines for the Korean conflict he was stationed in Orange Co. After the war he returned with his family to Pasadena because "that's wher e the culture is." He opened his own practice there specializing in residences and maintained it for over 40 years. Appointed to the Pasadena Planning commission in the early 1960's, he created the Preservation Committee during his tenure. He was of that group which succeeded in preserving the Gamble House as an historic site, and devotedly served on its governing Advisory Board for 26 years. Possessed of a judical temperment, he found great satisfaction serving with the American Arbitration Association. H e was particularly active almost all his adult life in the Pasadena Area Liberal Arts Center, an organization for continuing, adult-education in the format of discussion groups at members' homes. Retiring to Atascadero, he maintained his community activities though his later years were darkened by Alzheimer's Disease. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his sons, Stuart, Christopher and Torrey and his daughters-in-law, Marie, Lyn and Christine. A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 8, 2003, at the family home in Atascadero. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Pasadena Area Liberal Arts Center and the Gamble House, the two groups that lived longest in his heart.
Published in Pasadena Star-News on Jan. 30, 2003
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