Published 3:34 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Plant City, Fla.
Mrs. Hazel Byrd, 85, mother of former Florida House speaker Johnnie D. Byrd Jr., died Friday, in a hospital in Plant City following a massive stroke.
Mrs. Byrd's life centered on family and her church. She was active in many civic and church groups in Brewton, where she and her husband, the late Johnnie Bryars Byrd, Sr., were respected and beloved members of the community.
Mrs. Byrd moved to Plant City earlier this year to live with her son and daughter-in-law, Melane Byrd, and their children. A longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Brewton, she joined the First Baptist Church of Plant City, where she quickly became a valued member of the Hope Sunday school class and Beth Moore Bible study class.
Mr. Byrd, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease and died in 1998, was able to remain at home until his last illness, thanks in large part to the tender care provided by Mrs. Byrd. The Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Center in Tampa, is named after Mrs. Byrd's husband.
The pair married on Dec. 11, 1941, just four days after the attack Pearl Harbor. After Lt. Byrd's return from service as a naval aviator and flight instructor at the naval air station in Pensacola during World War II, the Byrds worked together in their Piggly Wiggly grocery store raising a family of three children.
Mrs. Byrd also leaves two daughters, Dr. Pat Byrd of Atlanta, Ga., and Anna (Joseph) Davis of Memphis, Tenn., and five grandchildren, Dr. Edward (Dr. Samantha Hopkins) Davis of Richmond, Calif., Lt. JG Melane Anne Byrd of Lemoore, Calif., and Sherer Byrd and Amanda Byrd, both students at the University of Florida, and J. Bryars Byrd III, a student at Tomlin Middle School, all of Plant City.
Graveside services will be held Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. at Union Cemetery in Brewton with the Rev. Jack Fitts officiating and Craver's Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to First Baptist Church of Plant City (library fund), 503 North Palmer St., Plant City, Fla. 33563 or to the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute, 15310 Amberly Drive, Suite 320, Tampa, Fla. 33647.