December 6, 1932 - October 3, 2019
Roberta Joan Byrne, 86, passed away on October 3, 2019, in Houston, Texas, a few weeks after a third and brutal recurrence of melanoma. She was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, Joseph Byrne, and their son, Shawn Byrne.
Joan, or "Bobbi," as she was known to her childhood friends, was born to a teenage mother and grew up on her grandparents' wheat farm in Southwest Kansas. She was at home on a horse, having ridden one to school as a child. When her grandparents bought a house in town, she moved with them and graduated from Dodge City (KS) High School. Joan had just begun nursing school when she met Joe Byrne on a blind date. He was a handsome young sailor from Boston, and they married soon after. In the years to come, they would have three children.
As a military family, the Byrnes moved often. Joan always made each new house warm and hospitable, keeping a treasury of Christmas ornaments, photo albums, family mementos and recipes that provided a continuum through the years. No new house stayed new for long. Likewise, no visitor ever left her house hungry. There was always enough lasagna or pot roast for the kids' college friends in need of a home-cooked meal, as well as a just-baked dessert – chocolate angelfood cake and sour cream raisin pie were two of her specialties. She was famous within the family for her delicious holiday fruitcakes and tins of homemade candy, a tradition she continued through her final Christmas.
As a young homemaker, Joan was a natural seamstress and sewed not only her daughters' clothes – including wedding and homecoming dresses – but also elegant outfits for their Barbie dolls. The Barbie clothes must have worn her out, because she put aside the sewing machine in her later years and took up gardening, where she displayed the proverbial green thumb. Joan could buy a raggedy 25-cent plant at the dimestore and coax it into a dazzling display of foliage and blooms. Her flower beds and patio were always full of color and fragrance.
After Joe's retirement from the Navy, the family settled back in Dodge City, and both Joan and Joe returned to college. Joan earned a degree in library science and worked as a reference librarian at the Dodge City Public Library for many years.
Eventually, in their 60s, the couple decided to relocate to College Station, Texas, in order to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Their home was the meet-up place for scores of family gatherings over the years. Joan enjoyed being a grandmother, and she and Joe traveled often for long weekends with their three grown kids and their families. She loved nothing more than a shopping trip with all her girls, followed by Tex-Mex and margaritas. Well, that and watching old movies.
Joan will be remembered for her strong Midwestern spirit, her clear-eyed world view and fondness for animals. She never complained, and she and Joe always supported their kids in whatever direction life took them. Like her husband, Joan placed a huge emphasis on education. Ultimately, both she and Joe and all three of their children earned master's degrees. In later years, she spent many happy hours at the bridge table.
Joan was preceded in death by the love of her life, Joe Byrne, who died earlier this year, the result of a stroke. Their son Shawn Byrne has also passed away; he died of brain cancer in 2016. Joan is survived by daughter-in-law Suk Kyong Byrne and granddaughter Jessica Byrne, both of Cypress, Texas; daughter Melissa Byrne Vossmer and her husband Mark Vossmer of Sherman, Texas; grandson Jacob Vossmer of Austin; daughter Teresa Byrne-Dodge and her husband Cameron Ansari, granddaughter Taylor Byrne Dodge and grandson Samuel Byrne Dodge, all of Houston.
A funeral Mass followed by the family's celebration of Joan's life will take place in a few weeks in Houston.