Just before midnight, October 1, 2020, our dear aunt, sister, cousin, and friend said her final farewell to all those she truly loved on earth and stretched forth her hands to enter into the joy and presence of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Myrtle Ridley "Myrt" Byrd (Ridley), please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
Born to Willie Lee and Mattie Ridley, on Tuesday, September 7, 1926 in the town of Parmele, located in western Martin County, North Carolina, where the motto was "The Small Town That Makes a Difference!,” Myrtle Ridley Jones Byrd indeed made a difference to everyone’s life she touched with her warm, engaging smile and jovial spirit, and most of all her untiring willingness to help and counsel all who sought her wisdom and wit.
Before the age of one, Myrtle and her family moved to Norfolk where she resided the rest of her life. She attended the All-Girls School on Brambleton Avenue and Booker T. Washington Junior and Senior High Schools. After graduating from Hampton Institute and upon receiving the Master’s degree at New York University, she traveled across the water to Portsmouth, where she began her rewarding career as a Guidance Counselor in the Hampton and Portsmouth, VA schools systems, where she retired in in 1986.
As love beckoned her heart, she met and married the love of her life, Thornsel Byrd, Jr., on June 25, 1983 until his transition to eternal life on April 14, 1996.
If there is one thing that Myrtle will always be remembered for is her devoted and diligent service as a member of St. Paul’s CME Church, which she served faithfully for over 80 years. All of her relatives anxiously awaited every year to attend St. Paul CME’s festive “Homecoming” day where all were fed the Word of GOD AND afterwards fed a sumptuous feast as well.
While at CME she served tirelessly without hesitation as:
*A member of the Galeda choir as a young adult
*A member of the Stewardess Board #3
*Member of the Missionary Society
*Main Founder of Forever Young through Faith and Fun (adult ministry)
*Founder and First Editor of the St. C.M.E. Church Gazette. Her husband, Thornsel, was the financial sponsor of the newsletter until other funds became available.
*Director and head of Vacation Bible school and the church summer cookout.
*Chairperson of Unity Day, and Chairperson of Homecoming!!
Myrtle was also extremely active in the very fabric of Norfolk Society as a devoted Golden Life member and former President of the Norfolk Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Chums, Inc., the Coalition Of 100 Black Women, The Women’s Club of Norfolk, and many more.
In addition to her husband, Myrtle was predeceased by her brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Maude Ridley, her mother and father, and many relatives and close friends. Survivors include, her Goddaughter, Ms. Alexis Jade Harrison and her brother-in-law, Peter Thomas.
Very Special and Faithful Friends: Ms. Joann Tillery, Mrs. Wilma Gamble, Ms. Frances Brooks, Ms. Runita James, Mrs. Yvonne Brown, Mrs. Maymie Proctor, Mrs. Edith Stanley, Ms. Josephine Scott, Ms. Alma Vincent, Ms. Jean Watson, Ms. Adrienne James, Ms. Lesha Harold, and Mrs. Alma Bervard and son, Tyrone.
Many cousins, including Mrs. Eloise Jones, Ms. Monica Greenfield and Steven Greenfield of Washington, D.C.; DeWitt Webster and Patricia Foreman of Atlanta, GA; Robert Webster, Paul Webster, of Norfolk; Reginald Mazingo of Charlotte, NC; Jeronell Bradley and Angele Bradley of Lamar, S.C.; Benjamin Bradley of Oxnard, CA; Mary B. Freeman, Deborah F. Daniels, and Sheila F. Powers of Norfolk; Dr. Alfonso and Janet Campbell of Hyattsville, MD; Sharon and Milton Waters, Grace Ferguson of Chesapeake; and Monique and Romney Cummings of Nashville, TN.
We are indeed most comforted in knowing Myrtle’s last years were filled with so much joy and love by the sincere service and support extended to her by her devoted caretakers, Gerald and Rose Lucas, of Suffolk, Virginia. And to all who called, stopped by, prayed without ceasing, your kindnesses and sacrifices will always be remembered!
Until we meet again, dear Myrtle, we all say to you,
”Well done, thy good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the Joy of Thy Lord.”