Johnnie Ray Byrd
October 26, 1931
February 16, 2018
Deacon Johnnie Ray Byrd, 86 departed peacefully on February 16, 2018 at his home. Funeral Service will be Friday, February 23, 2018 at 11:00am at Macedonia Baptist Church, 608 North 7th Street, Abilene, Texas. Burial will follow at the Abilene Municipal Cemetery, Cedar Hill Section. Visitation will be Thursday, February 22, 2018 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm at the Macedonia Baptist Church.
Deacon Byrd was born October 26, 1931 in Madisonville, Texas to the parentage of Burton and Ella Mae Broadway Byrd. After the demise of this union he was raised by his Mothers Brother, Richard Broadway and his wife Arlee Broadway. Often noting he was the apple of his Aunts eye as their ''only child'' from a toddler to age 9 and never felt a difference made when they had Gracie and Richard Broadway Jr., whom he was raised with as siblings.
He received his education from Woodson Colored Schools here in Abilene, Texas.
Uncle Johnnie started working at an early age in the kitchen at the Windsor Hotel. Because he was a youth, he was required to take his checks home to his uncle. Always striving to do his best and be the best, he was promoted to the bellboy and wait staff. That was all she wrote…because although he had no say so with his uncle on how his check was spent, giving excellent service now afforded him TIPS and that was between him and the Lord. Instilling in him a strong work ethic matched only by a few.
He was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, serving two tours. After being honorably discharged in January 1954 he returned to Abilene and to the Windsor as the head waiter until he was sought after by several board members of the Abilene Country Club. Johnnie became the evening head waiter/bartender and trainer of staff elevating the quality of service and overall atmosphere to all who entered in. He spoke of being a Bartender ''in a dry'' town and harrowing tells of packing up everything and hiding it in the land scrapers/air in 3 minutes or less when authorities arrived. He worked there for 30 years before retiring.
He united in marriage to Octavia Conner Byrd on August 15, 1962 and moved from the servant's quarter on Sayles Blvd to the home built to their specifications, living and loving together until her passing in 2003 and now his. In 1965 with the opening of the building he was called upon to be Building Supervisor working there until he was sought to work at First Financial Bank, taking care of Bank Buildings and Catering. Working the 10 plus years he'd always say he was a Jack of all trades.
He professed Christ at an early age at the Bethel Church of God in Christ. Uncle Johnnie has been an active member of Macedonia, since Joining in the 1960's. He was ordained as a Deacon under Reverend T.G. Oliphant in May 1982 and served in several Ministries and offices within the Church and Progressive West Texas.
Uncle Johnnie lost his physical eyesight in the early 2005 but never his spiritual ability to see. He took pride in serving as unto the Lord being no respecter of persons. Johnnie gave all to Family, Friends, Doctors, local Dignitaries and Presidential Inauguration, He was the youngest child in Sunday school.
He is preceded in death by his parents; wife; aunts; uncles; a sister, Erma Lee Ford; four brother – in- laws, Carl, H.C. , Lee Van, Marion Jr.; five sister-in-law's, Christine Collins, Julia Conner, his beloved Nannie Lee Conner, Annie Mae Wiley and Ozeal Conner; and a God daughter, Claire.
He Survived by his Sister, Gladys Dixon , and Gracie Scott McGee; brothers, Burton Byrd Jr., Willie Byrd and Ambroise Byrd; Cousin/Brother, Richard (Monika) Broadway Jr; goddaughters, Octavia Conner and Pamela Clements; a host of Nieces, Nephews, relatives and friends.
A special thank you, to Randy Alexander, Willie and Cora Andrews, Matthew ''Bishop'' Thomas, Octavia Conner, Deacon Robert Cotman, Robert Jones, Doctor Toby Williams, Dr Brett Teague and Dr. Barry Hoefer, who help drive Uncle Johnnie to all his appointments in Lubbock, Big Spring and anywhere else he wanted to go. God Bless!