Throughout his life, Byron Byrne (’64) has seen God’s hand at work. From his formative years at Bellevue Christian School to his career as a first responder, Bryon is leaving a legacy of service to others.
Growing up in Kirkland, Byron went to Central Grade School and Kirkland Junior High before transferring to BCS. His family was attracted to the school’s positive reputation and strong Christian values.
In high school, Byron benefitted from the small class sizes at BCS. He felt supported by his teachers, not just academically, but also spiritually. Byron spoke to the challenge of being a Christian teen in need of positive role models – which remains a need for young people today.
“Whether you are aware of it or not as a teenager, adults around you are setting examples, both good and bad. Being in a place where there were a lot of good examples had a big impact on me. Bellevue Christian was a big part of my growing up and it prepared me to do a lot of other things.”
Byron was impacted by many of his teachers at BCS, which included brothers Joe and Al Greene. He remembers working hard, but also having fun - even pulling the occasional practical joke on a teacher.
After school, Byron played basketball for BCS and was coached by Dewey Fredricks. When Byron started playing in 1960, BCS did not have a gym yet. The team played wherever they could find a space, including other Christian schools, Kirkland Junior High and even an old WPA building, constructed during the Great Depression on Bel-Red Road. Once the Edwards Gym was built in 1962, the Vikings had a home court for the first time.
When he graduated in 1964, BCS looked a bit different than the school we know today. At the time, there were about 40 students enrolled in the school and classes were held in portables. Including Byron, there were only 13 students in his graduating class.
After graduating, Byron went to college for a couple years before taking a job at Boeing, working as an engineering aide on a supersonic transport. During that time, he also was a volunteer firefighter with the Kirkland Fire Department. He was intrigued by firefighting because his father had been a firefighter – Bryon wanted to learn why his dad did what he did.
He enjoyed his job at Boeing, but the company suffered budget cuts and his project was cancelled. When reading the newspaper one day, he happed to see an ad for a job with the Bellevue Fire Department. He took the job began discovering his passion for helping others as a first responder.
Looking back, Bryon recognizes that God’s hand was working in many ways throughout his life. If the project at Boeing had not been cancelled, he never would have applied for the firefighter position.
“I did not understand immediately why things happened, but I firmly believe that God put me in the right place at the right time. He helped me find my calling, which is to care for people.”
After working for the fire department for 8 years, Byron became an emergency medical services “missionary”. He would travel to fire departments and educate the first responders on the value of firefighters becoming certified EMTs. He went on to work for the Emergency Medical Services Division of Public Health for King County, where he spent most of his career.
As a firefighter, Byron recalls facing his mortality daily. While he was often rescuing people who were close to death, he also got to witness the miracle of new life.
“One of the experiences we enjoyed the most was delivering babies. We were so often with people who were leaving this earth - to see and assist in a young life coming into this world, that was just great.”
Today, Byron lives in Kirkland with his wife, Judi. After 45 years of marriage, the couple has two daughters, one son and five grandchildren. Following in his father’s footsteps, Byron’s son is a firefighter in Redmond. When asked if he had any advice for this generation, Byron encouraged students to consider their impact:
“Appreciate and honor the work done by those of the past, while remembering that someday others will stand on your shoulders. So think about the legacy of others and think about the legacy you are leaving behind.”