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Jerry Byrd, 67, former Inquirer staffer

Jerry Byrd, 67, of Sewell, a former editor and reporter at The Inquirer, died Saturday, Dec. 20, at home after a long illness.

Jerry Byrd
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Jerry Byrd, 67, of Sewell, a former editor and reporter at The Inquirer, died Saturday, Dec. 20, at home after a long illness.

Mr. Byrd, a native of Pittsburgh, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer about a year ago and had recently been in hospice, said his wife, Terry.

"He was a fine writer and an excellent editor that inspired reporters," said Acel Moore, associate editor emeritus at The Inquirer. Moore said Mr. Byrd was "a good friend and a man who stood up for the right things."

After graduating from high school, Mr. Byrd volunteered for the Air Force. He completed two tours in Vietnam, received a commendation medal in 1969, and was honorably discharged after seven years. He was later classified as disabled because of his exposure to Agent Orange, his wife said. She said her husband did not like to talk about his experiences in Vietnam.

While in the Air Force, Mr. Byrd attended the University of Oklahoma. After leaving the service, he attended Burlington County College, and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978 with a degree in journalism.

Terry Byrd met her future husband when they were introduced by his brother Oliver, who was her boss at Mellon Bank, she said. The two were married 28 years.

From July 1978 to August 1986, Mr. Byrd worked at the Pittsburgh Press as a neighborhood reporter and features reporter. He won a Golden Quill award and a first-place Keystone Press Club Award in 1983, and in 1986, he was named Scripps-Howard Newspapers Reporter of the Year.

While at the Press, Mr. Byrd spent a year working on a series of articles on the history of blacks in Pittsburgh, his wife said. The pieces included stories on sports, culture, and politics, she said. "He wrote every article in the whole [Sunday] magazine," she said.

Mr. Byrd joined The Inquirer in 1986 and worked as an editor and reporter. He coauthored a report on the plight of young black men in Philadelphia that received a Keystone Press Club Award.

Julie Busby, The Inquirer's New Jersey editor, recalled Mr. Byrd's fine eye for detail as an editor.

He would never send a story to the copy desk, Busby said, unless it "sang."

After leaving The Inquirer in 2001, Mr. Byrd was an editor for Bloomberg News in New Jersey. He retired in 2010, his family said.

"He loved taking pictures," said Terry Byrd.

She said that after her husband retired, he became more active in his church and volunteered to be the photographer at church events.

In addition to his wife and brother, Mr. Byrd is survived by two daughters, Rhonda Eason and Veronica; and another brother, Glenn.

Services were tentatively set for Saturday at Child's Memorial Baptist Church, 953 N. 10th St. in North Philadelphia.

610-313-8111 @MariSchaefer