Byron N. Lord, of Rockville, Md., died Feb. 5, 2017. In June of 1945, Byron Nelson Lord was born to Winifred and Emory Lord at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington DC. Byron had one brother: Bob (Robert Boardman Lord). Shortly after the children were born his family moved from DC to Bethesda Maryland to the house on Rosedale avenue where Byron spent his childhood. It was there that he met a sweet little girl named Ronna Lou Kern. As Byron grew up, and attended school he excelled at mathematics and was extremely well organized. The appeal of military discipline and the prospect of attending one of the world’s premier military Institutes drew him to the Citadel in South Carolina.
As part of the “rat line” at the Citadel Byron experienced the hell of hazing and braced himself for the brutal transition to manhood. If one is interested in gaining a sense of what life at the Citadel was like during this time, one may read the book The Lords of Discipline, written by one of Byron’s classmates: Pat Conroy. Despite the personal hardships and the sometimes-savage environment experienced by the entire corps of cadets, Byron flourished. From 1963 to 1967 he studied hard, kept his nose clean and focused on his studies. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He never forgot the life lessons learned there and added the core values of Honor, Duty and Respect to his personality.
Upon Graduation from the Citadel, Byron proceeded to graduate school at West Virginia University. He was at WVU from 1967 to 1972. While studying for his Master of Engineering degree in Environmental Health Engineering he also experienced several other life-changing events. The sweet little girl from Rosedale Avenue and he had kept in contact, fallen in love, and decided to get married. That friend and neighbor ended up being the love of his life. They were married in 1968 and only parted upon Ronna’s death in 2014. Shortly thereafter, they had their first son: Glen Stuart Nelson Lord. A couple of years later came son number two: John Robert Boardman Lord. During this time, Bryon was an engineering student, a teaching assistant, an independent engineer, as well as starting his family. This was a very busy time indeed. In 1972, while working for his PhD, Byron arrived at the realization that it was all too much and he abandoned the pursuit of his doctorate in favor of supporting his family.
In early 1973 a set of two fantastic opportunities became available. The first, was that Ronna’s mother, Hazel Boyte Kern, offered for her Byron, Ronna and her two grandchildren to move into her home on Rosedale avenue in Bethesda, Maryland. This arrangement had many advantages for two young parents and an equal number of advantages for a loving grandmother. This symbiosis of extended family stayed together until Hazel’s death in 1991. The second opportunity was an entry level job at the United States Department of Transportation. This job became the first step in a career with the Federal Highway Administration that lasted just over 40 years. The stability of family with a home provided by Hazel and the steady employment that Byron enjoyed led them to consider how nice trying to have a little girl would be. In 1977, God granted them their heart’s desire and Heather Joy Allison Lord was born.
The family now had six members and the home on Rosedale Avenue was too small. Byron packed up the family and moved to Rockville Maryland to the home on Glastonberry Road where he spent the remainder of his life. While living in Rockville and working for the Federal Highway Administration he held such positions as Chief of Pavements Division, Chief of Highway Infrastructure Division, Deputy Director of the Office of Pavements Technology, Director of Highways For Life, and Senior Advisor for Innovation. His career took him all over the world from London England, to Trondheim Norway, from Paris France to Tokyo Japan and everywhere in between. He even had a stint as a White House Fellow and worked in the West Wing under the Administration of President George H. W. Bush. Byron loved his job, but in 2013 he decided to begin his well-earned retirement.
It was during this time in Rockville that Byron discovered one of his true passions. In 1978, Byron was asked to be the assistant Pack Master for the Cub Scout Pack in which his eldest son Glen was participating. He agreed and thus began the illustrious service to boys and young men through the Boy Scouts of America that he participated in up until the day of his death. Byron was a Scoutmaster, an adult leader trainer through the Woodbadge program. Byron participated in many Woodbadge courses in various positions until he was finally honored to be Course Director. The position that he held for the longest amount of time and the one that was closest to his heart was District Eagle Chairman. Every month, for almost 30 years, Byron coordinated Eagle Scout Boards of Review for half a dozen to a dozen candidates. At the end of the evening, he led a small ceremony, where he congratulated each of them. These Boards of Review were one of the culminating events that were held after he also helped each scout select an Eagle Scout Project, counseled them on the Life to Eagle advancement process, and provided insights and wisdom to young men unselfishly and with a gusto seldom seen in any arena.
Byron would often say that “there is no leadership to compare with example.” That wasn’t a platitude for him; it was a way of life. That quote isn’t technically attributable to Byron. It was made by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts. Byron loved Boy Scouting because of the principles that are foundational to the program. Byron always believed in the scout motto which is: “Be Prepared.” Byron embodied the words of the scout law; which are: “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” Not only did his two sons, who both earned the Eagle Scout Award, but literally thousands of others have benefitted from his love, wisdom and dedication to Scouting as well.
Byron and Ronna went through a lot together. They had three children, eight grandchildren, one of whom passed away when he was only four years old, and two of whom were adopted into his family. “For better or for worse” really meant something to Byron. Byron’s transition to retirement was based on his role as loving husband and father. Ronna’s health had been steadily declining for several years. She needed the loving care that Byron could provide on a full-time basis if he were to retire. He took on that role like a champion. Byron was truly a dedicated husband, father, and all-around family man. At around this same time, while Byron was transitioning to retirement his daughter, Heather Joy Allison Lord Saylor had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. In December of 2014, Byron lost his loving Wife. Just one week before his death, Byron’s daughter lost her battle with cancer and died. Perhaps one can say that Byron died from a broken heart. However, his death on February fifth, 2017 is not the end.
It may be possible that not everyone knew Byron as the incredible man of faith that he was. Byron was very private, but if the topic ever came up, he was certain to share his great love of God. He was not afraid to say he loved Jesus. He was steadfast in upholding the laws of Christianity that Christ teaches us: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” If nothing else, one could easily see Byron as a Christian by his Love, Faith and Hope. We know that Byron is now in the loving arms of his father in Heaven. Byron truly had a life well-lived, and with God’s plan fulfilled, his faithful servant has been called home.
His funeral service will be as follows. All are welcome:
Saturday February 11th at
Fourth Presbyterian Church
5500 River Rd.
Bethesda, MD 20816
Service beginning at 10:30 am, Reception to follow at the church – All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made as follows:
Please send checks made payable to Boy Scout Troop 68
Troop Treasurer – Carl Bretscher
300 Reading Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
Link to original obituary: