She believed in family, church, education and physical fitness. She also believed in keeping kids busy and away from trouble.
Lois Harris Byers of Charlotte died Feb. 8, 2012 at age 84 as the result of a stroke. She was a native of Birmingham, Ala., and retired after teaching physical education for 30 years.
Born the seventh of ten children, she enjoyed a happy home and church life, where she was active in youth activities and sometimes played piano for church services. After high school graduation, she left home to attend Johnson C. Smith University. There, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and the love of Eddie Byers. She later received her degree in physical education from New York University.
She and Eddie welcomed son, Eddie Jr., and daughter, Karen, to their union, and Lois taught physical education in several Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.
“We all worked two or three schools each,” said Elaine Brown, a fellow teacher and friend of 50 years. “We became close friends and our families were close. Our husbands had known each other before our marriages.”
We were family
Elaine is young Eddie’s godmother and they were “aunt” and “uncle” to each other’s children. “We were more or less family,” Elaine said.
His mom “made sure I was involved in extra-curricular activities,” Eddie said. “She took me to the nature museum and I was in the soccer league, basketball and tennis camps, took piano lessons, was in the band at school, went to church, Sunday school, Bible school, the Jack and Jill club for kids, took field trips and was tutored,” he said.
All of that left little time for the kids to get into trouble. The family also had back yard summer games of horseshoes, badminton and croquet, plus trips to Alabama, and in 1969, a long trip to California and Disneyland.
“She was a very loving mother and included us in doing things,” Karen said. “She was always kind to her children and grandchildren. She made sure we got what we needed and encouraged us to do our best in whatever we strived to do.
“She was a member of Gethsemane AME Zion Church and went up until she got ill,” said Karen. “She joined before I was born.”
Lois had been a member and president of her church’s Women’s Home Missionary Society, the steward board and was a Girl Scout troop leader.
She had also been president of the Jack and Jill of America Inc. childrens’ club. She was national president of the Holidays Bridge Club, where she had helped establish several chapters. She also played with the Bluebirds Bridge Club and particularly enjoyed that group in her retirement.
Lois was especially active in her college sorority, where she was a Golden Life member of Delta Sigma Theta. She also represented its Charlotte Alumnae Chapter on the Pan Hellenic Council and had served as its president. She had been the membership chairman for the Charlotte Chapter of Links.
Even with all these activities, Lois never lost interest in the welfare of young students. After a 30-year teaching stretch, she only thought she’d retired. She was happy to return to the school system and directed the after-school program at Irwin Avenue Elementary School.
We wonder how many kids’ lives she touched and how many were influenced by her care and wisdom. Too many to count, we’d bet.
Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them. Email email@example.com.