Richard Gerald Byrnes was born November 14, 1949 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania to Richard and Kathryn Byrnes. He also had two brothers and two sisters.
Rich was proud of his Pennsylvania roots and was an avid sports fan so he was thrilled to research an NFL football team from Pottsville; the Pottsville Maroons. The Maroons lost their NFL title in 1925 because of playing an illegal game after they won the championship. The controversy over this “stolen” crown is a major source of contention between Pennsylvania and the NFL to this day. Rich went back for a meeting with the football commissioner in 2008 in the hopes to get the trophy back which failed. His hometown is also famous for Yuengling beer, the oldest brewery in the U.S. The brewery is located adjacent to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church where Rich went to church every day with the catholic school he attended. He remembered smelling the hops at the famous brewery. He said as an elementary student, he turned his nose up at the smell but once he got into middle school, he inhaled deeply.
After he graduated from high school, he received a letter from President Nixon inviting him to become a member of the military. He enlisted in the United States Air Force on May 6, 1970 and retired January 31, 1993. He proudly served as an airman for 7 years. During his enlisted career, he was a Space Object Technician where he analyzed radar returns from orbiting satellites. He received his officer commission on May 9, 1977. As an officer he worked in the missile maintenance and space operations fields.
He met his “bride” Carolyn when he was stationed in Colorado Springs. They married and Rich became an instant father to Stephanie and Jacob from Carolyn’s first marriage. Kathryn and Richard Jr. were born and completed the family by 1988. In 2019 his granddaughter Leah Ann was born. She was the apple of his eye and the twinkle in his toes.
After Rich retired from the Air Force in 1993, the family settled back in Colorado Springs where Rich worked at Lockheed Martin in Space Operations and Training. He retired in 2007 when he said – “time to do something new”. After he retired, he became the best househusband a woman could want – he cleaned, he shopped and became CEO of the house. When Carolyn retired in 2010, she was definitely in the way. When she suggested they go to the grocery store on a Monday, he told her “No, grocery shopping day is Wednesday.”
Rich and Carolyn soon began a new chapter in their lives; one filled with travel, new hobbies, and volunteer opportunities. One of Rich’s hobbies was researching his family history and roots which run deep in Ireland. He traveled to Ireland and was able to meet most of his Irish cousins. He was very proud of his Irish roots – but he also had German roots that he had to claim too.
Some of his favorite trips were with his travel “buddies” better known as the Ducks and the Senior Travel Group from BFLC. The trips that really stood out included Churchill, Manitoba where he saw polar bears, the Galapagos Islands where he “walked” with the giant turtles, Easter Island with their large statues called Moai and a safari in South Africa where he saw the “big five” and more! On September 6, 2018, he was able to sit in Lincoln Financial Field home of the Philadelphia Eagles and watch the Super Bowl banner be unfurled for his beloved Eagles. He was an Eagles fan his whole life. He had hoped to get to every major league baseball stadium in the U.S. He was just five short of that goal. Besides the wonderful trips around the world, he loved to get in his RV and head into some of the beautiful parks around the U.S.
Rich got his energy from his interaction with others. He and Carolyn drove for Meals on Wheels once a week. He was involved with Pikes Peak Hospice with their Veteran to Veteran program where he visited with other veterans as they neared the end of their lives. Each week he visited an assisted living home where he provided companionship for the residents and he asked everyone he knew to donate any clothing they no longer wore to give to the residents at the home.
Every Tuesday he had breakfast with some other “old guys” where they talked politics and Rich was known as the flaming liberal.
Rich had an easy smile, a quick wit and the ability to tell a joke and “work the crowd” to put a smile on your face. He entered into eternal rest on May 10, 2020. He will live in the hearts, homes and lives of those left here on earth.