George W. Byers

George William Byers, retired professor of entomology at the University of Kansas, died at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital on 1, January. He was born on 16 May 1923, in Washington, D.C., son of George and Helen (Kessler) Byers. The family moved to Lafayette, Indiana, where he attended grade school and high school. He was second of eight children. During high school years, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout (BSA), served a year as editor of his high school’s newspaper, and was chosen an outstanding high school student of the midwest, by the Chicago Tribune.

Early in 1942, when a student at Purdue University, he enlisted as a private in the Army, in field artillery, later attended officer training (OCS), and by the end of World War II was a first lieutenant. Following college training in biology and specializing in entomology at the University of Michigan, he was recalled to active duty, transferred to the Army’s Medical Service Corps, and sent to Korea to head a research unit to study a regional disease called epidemic hemorrhagic fever, to determine its cause in military personnel and how it could be controlled. After a few other, brief periods of active duty, he retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel.

He married Lt. Gloria B. Wong, an Army nurse, on 16 December 1955, and together they raised three sons, in Lawrence: Bruce A. (born 28 Dec. 1958), Brian W. (14 May 1964] and Douglas E. (24 Dec. 1965). From a previous marriage, to Martha Esther Sparks, on 25 Feb. 1945, came son George W. (born 25 Feb. 1946, died 29 Apr. 2009) and daughter Carolyn S. (16 April 1948),

In 1956, he joined the Department of Entomology, at the University of Kansas, teaching systematic entomology, medical entomology, and some other courses, and curating the insect collection in the Snow Entomological Museum (later named the Entomology Division of the Biodiversity Institute of the University). He also taught a summer course in general entomology, alternate summers from 1961 to 1992 at Mountain Lake Biological Station, University of Virginia, and once at the University of Minnesota biological station, Lake Itasca. For more than 30 years his research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

Twice he served as department chairman, 1969-1972 and 1984-1987. He retired in 1988 but retained office and laboratory space, where he continued research on crane flies and scorpionflies until the time of his death.

The family will welcome friends at a reception Saturday, 6 January, 2-4 p.m. at 2707 Oxford Rd. The family requests no flowers, but contributions in memory of George may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Messages & Condolences

From Kim Keller-McDaneld...

Dougie & Brian–
I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing-
Prayers to you and your family.
With the greatest sympathy.

From Peggy K. Powell...

I fell in love with the study of insects in his class at Mountain Lake in the summer of 1975. I am an entomologist now because of Dr. Byers.

From saundra pichelman...

Brian, i’m so sorry for your loss. Your father was such a nice man and I enjoyed visiting with him at the manor from when my mom was still there.

From Henry M. Wilbur...

George was a beloved teacher of entomology at Mountain Lake Biological Station for thirty years. His attention and kindness to students won him their trust and affection. He was a great teacher and a wonderful person.

From David Grimaldi...

I knew George for about 35 years, beginning when I was a fresh graduate student in entomology, and he impressed me deeply. I will miss him greatly; he was a true gentleman as well as scholar, showing me that one could be a first-rate scientist as well as a first-rate person. My kindest regards to his family.

From A. Smith-Pardo...

To the family and friends of our beloved Dr. Byers,
We will greatly miss your kindness and helpfulness dear George. As an alumni in Entomology at KUand somebody that shared the same aisle as your office, I have only great memories and kind gestures to remember from you Dr. Byers. One more great human being has left us, one that we will forever remember!. Rest in peace.

From LeeAnn Bennett...

Dr. Byers taught my very first class in Entomology at KU. He gave me quite an introduction to the study of insects. His enthusiasm for the subject material and his sense of fun made the insect world come alive for me and so many others. I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from him. He was always such a nice man and a supportive friend, I will miss him greatly.
LeeAnn Bennett

From Helen Alexander...

I spent many summers at Mountain Lake Biological Station and got to know George there. It then was wonderful to become a faculty member at Univ. of Kansas and continue to interact with George. I also enjoyed his kindness and humor. He will be missed.

From Robin Leigh...

Bruce, Brian, Doug, and Carolyn, so sorry for your loss. I hope that your father George is with his son George in Heaven.

From Kenna Rothwell...

Sorry to hear of your fathers passing. Prayers to you all.

From Susie Brooks...

Doug and Brian.
I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.
Susie Riling Brooks

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