Opinion column: Architect left much to community

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Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

I received a telephone call on Monday, Dec. 5, from Tim Byers, telling me that his father, Ray Byers, had died. I was saddened to learn that the community had lost another business and civic leader.

Raymond Bedford Byers Jr. was born on March 19, 1928, in Gaffney, S.C. , the son of Raymond Bedford Byers Sr. and Annie Elizabeth Saratt Byers. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in Japan and in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.

In 1951, a friend suggested that he join him in attending Finlay Engineering College, Kansas City, Mo., where he received a degree in architectural engineering. He married Marjorie Elizabeth Crute in 1959. He became a principal partner in the architectural firm of Byers, Gunn and Hart after earning his architectural license in 1960.

Ray designed and built various shopping areas including Arrowhead and Byers centers. He also did design and property management work for the Wyandotte Plaza Shopping Center. He also served as the architect-of-record for Kansas City Kansas Community College.

I recall visiting with Ray on several occasions about development in West Wyandotte County. He said that as an architect, he had one guiding principle — to design buildings that complemented the existing architectural style.

Ray was an active member of several voluntary organizations. He was recognized as “Volunteer of the Year” by Cancer Action and the United Way of Wyandotte County. He was a longtime elder and trustee at Bethel Presbyterian Church and a longtime board member of Business West and The West Kiwanis Club.

Ray loved to play golf with longtime friend Al Gatton. I always will remember him as an affable fellow who never quite lost his southern accent.

A celebration of the life of Ray Byers will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Ritz Charles, 9000 W. 137th St., Overland Park. His family has suggested that memorial contributions be made to the West Kiwanis Club. Condolences may be left at www.porterfuneralhome.com.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

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