CONNIE (BYER) STAR DECEASED JULY 2, 2017

Good Morning, Melvin, I did go to Connie’s memorial service in St John last evening. Her nephew, Dr Rob Byer, professor of philosophy at FHSU, did the eulogy. Then he invited her relatives and friends to speak of their memories of Connie. It was very evident that she was much loved by her family and close friends. The lady who was assigned to Connie from an agency, Connie Holiday, who took her to all her chemotherapy appointments was there and spoke also. They played a Beatles song from the White Album, ‘Blackbird’, and a Janis Joplin song of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, her favorite songs. Connie kept many photo albums which were there on the tables, and Rob told everyone to take home some pictures. She had some of our 40th reunion and I was in in one picture. I took a few photos and will bring them for the memory table at our next reunion. I told them that four of us from our class went to see Connie last year at her apartment in Great Bend and had a nice visit with her. That was Sherry, Patty, Cindy, and me and was slightly over a year ago. Her relatives seemed very glad to hear that we had gone to see her.

Both of her younger brothers, Steven and Mike, have died, but her sisters in law were there, Gail, and Ann, who is a granddaughter of Sam Kirby. Ann, Steven’s wife, told me that Connie’s ashes will be interred at St John at the family lot at a later time. Rob’s sister, Sally, is married to the son of the photographer at Danica Photography in Larned, and is working on her MA in English at WSU with emphasis in ESL. I think the last name is Spinica. Connie’s son was not able to come and lives in LV, Nevada. Her daughter, Barbara, was there and lives in Great Bend. There were also many cousins in attendance. The youngest son of Gwen Glaze, and his wife were there. She said she appreciates being on our class email list.

I am very glad I went to Connie’s memorial. I went not knowing who would be there, or what it would be like, but I found that hearing her relatives’ and friends’ remembrances of her helped to understand her better. I found out that Connie was abused as a child by a cruel step father which is why her mother moved to Larned from their farm at Trousdale. He put her and Steven in a grain bin where there were mice and rats and pounded on the walls to make the mice run around. He threw firecrackers under their high chairs as toddlers. I can’t help but think that if she had had a more nurturing childhood that she would have had a different life as an adult. She was an intelligent caring person and had many talents, singing being one of those talents. As in the last line of ‘Blackbird’… ‘You were only waiting for this moment to be free’… now she is.