Norman English Byrd was born Dec. 28, 1930 in Sedalia, Missouri, the fifth child of Curtis Foster Byrd and Virginia Josephine English-Byrd. His was a large family. He attended elementary school and high school at Hubbard High School. After his high school graduation, he migrated to California where an older brother, Charles, was already living. With Charles’ support and assistance he was able to survive the move.
Norman’s move to Oakland, Calif. was to lead to many momentous events in his life. In 1948, he was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church by Pastor R.W. Nelson, pastor of the Market Street Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although in his teens at the time, he was a committed Christian and became a serious student of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, a practice that he continued throughout his life. He formed a close friendship with Luther Williams, another conscientious Christian teenager, who was baptized a year after Norman.
It was at the Market Street Church that he met Deborah Elizabeth Ann Saxton Young, and a romance started that eventually led to a lovely wedding and marriage in 1951. He became part of the Young and McCoy families with the marriage, and he moved to Stockton, California where they had settled. Norman joined with others in the building of the Market & “E” Seventh-day Adventist Church. He became an active and involved church member.
Norman found employment at Southern Pacific Railroad where he worked until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952. He served for two years in various stateside locations and attained the rank of Corporal. In September of 1952, their daughter, Edwina, was born. Two years later in September of 1954, Deborah and Norman were blessed with twin sons that they named DelRay and DeShay.
After his Army duty, he returned to Stockton where he was employed as a psychiatric technician at Stockton State Hospital. The hospital eventually sent him to San Joaquin Delta College to pursue a degree in nursing. Upon completing his nursing degree, he returned to Stockton State Hospital to work as a psychiatric nurse, a position that the held for thirty years. He also worked as a psychiatric nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital Crisis Center for many years.
Even though Norman led a busy work schedule, he was faithful in his church duties. He held many church offices including Sabbath School superintendent and teacher, elder, and board member. He was also the church treasurer for many years. He was instrumental in starting and supporting the Worthy Students’ Fund, a fund that made it possible for many of the children of the church to obtain a Christian education. He also served as a school board member and chairman. He was the chairman of the building committee for the structure at 2929 S. “B” Street. He worked tirelessly in coordinating with the contractor, fund raising, and even doing some of the physical work involved. He gave liberally and sacrificially toward the building and to other church projects. He loved his church.
Norman was a family man who enjoyed being with his wife and children. In most activities, Norman and Deborah were always together. He and Deborah sacrificed to give their children a Christian education. Following high school graduation, Edwina attended and graduated from La Sierra University. The twins both went into the military.
Norman enjoyed many hobbies including photography, recording sermons, carpentry, and traveling. In 1970, he traveled to the World Youth Congress in Switzerland with his daughter, Edwina. Sometimes the family made trips east to visit other family members. He especially enjoyed the times spent with his extended family members. He also enjoyed studying the Bible with others where he was able to share the many truths that he had learned.
During the years of his life he was saddened with the loss of those closest to him. In 1995, he had to deal with the death of Ted Liben, a young man from Ethiopia that he was sponsoring. In 2000, was to suffer the loss of his son, DelRay to cancer. When his wife, Deborah became ill with terminal cancer, he was her faithful bedside caregiver. She lost that battle in 2009 and Norman lost his bride of fifty-eight years of marriage.
In recent years Norman’s health began to decline. His daughter, Edwina, was his faithful and constant caregiver. His life ended on March 8, 2015, at the age of eighty-four. He awaits the call of his Savior when he will be resurrected to a glorified body to live eternally.
Left to cherish his memories are his daughter, Edwina, son, DeShay, sisters, Coleta Small (George), Ruth Abner, Ida McGill (Nathaniel, Sr.), brother, Gerald Byrd, a host of in-laws, four grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Charles Byrd, Curtis Byrd, Jr., Martin Byrd, Hollis Byrd, and Barbara Byrd.
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Visitation will be held on Friday, March 20, 2015 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am at the Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Friday, March 20, 2015 at 11:00 am in the Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church 2929 "B" St. Stockton, California 95206.