William Byrne ’63
William “Bill” Easton Byrne, age 78, of Hastings, went to be with the Lord on September 18, 2019 after a lengthy battle with heart disease.
Bill was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 28, 1941. He was a 1959 graduate of Holland High School and attended Hope College, graduating in 1963, where he played football all four years. He also earned an advanced degree in Physical Therapy in 1964 from the University of Iowa.
On January 4, 1964, Bill married Carolyn “ Heidi” Heideman, who survives him. Bill and Heidi Byrne were married 54 years and have two children, Jean and Dave. Jean (Byrne) Fishman is married to Phil Fishman and has two daughters, Anna Fishman, Emily Fishman, all of Wyoming Michigan. Dave is married to Rhonda (Boelkins) Byrne and has two sons, Dominick Byrne and Brevin Byrne, all of Fremont Michigan.Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Harvey and Carolyn Zoet and grandparents, Easton and Anna Williams.
Bill retired after working as a Physical Therapist at Pennock Hospital in Hastings, Kent Community Hospital in Grand Rapids, and Southwest Regional Rehabilitation Center in Battle Creek. In retirement, he found numerous ways of serving others, including but not limited to: organizing the rebuilding of a church destroyed by the flooding of the Mississippi River, volunteering at various camps, helping with Habitat for Humanity, and purchasing food items for Love INC.
Bill developed a personal ministry of designing cards on his computer, often using photos he or Heidi had taken of sunsets, nature, and/or special moments to celebrate a person’s accomplishments, send them get well wishes, provide encouragement in a time of sadness, or condolences in a time of loss. He would send these cards to people in his church, his friends and family, and the friends of family of those he cared about.
Bill loved to work with wood, either building or carving. He enjoyed projects such as constructing display racks, benches, shelves, plaques, etc. Bill also had a gift of locating, cleaning, refurbishing, and/or repairing discarded items. Once refurbished, he would give that item to someone he cared for, find someone who could use those items, or donate the items to a charity.
For over 40 years, Bill was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Hastings, Michigan, serving as a Deacon and Elder. Throughout his marriage, he and Heidi enjoyed square dancing and was a member of the following Square Dance Clubs: Happy Soles of Grand Rapids, Long Key Square Dancers of Long Key, Florida, and Grand River Squares, also in Grand Rapids. He was an avid fisherman, with a special interest in bass fishing. Often, Bill would be found quietly working on a puzzle, painting, challenging himself by creating words with his banana gram set, or solving a Sudoku puzzle.
Loving and caring for his children and grandchildren was a lifelong commitment for Bill. “Poppi,” as he was affectionately referred to by his grandchildren and the many people who met him through his grandchildren, went to almost every sporting event, band concert, play, choir concert, or other activity of his children and most recently his grandchildren. When his grandchildren were young, he would create tunnels for them to run through after the completion of the game. More recently, after sporting events, concerts, and plays, he would patiently wait for his grandchildren so he could congratulate them. He also loved to give a high five to anyone else on the team or in the activity who wanted one.
Bill loved people and took a real interest in everyone he met. He enjoyed having conversations with those around him. There was often a twinkle in his eye or a smile on his face.