JANUARY 17, 1931 – JULY 14, 2013
Mike passed away peacefully at home on the morning of July 14, 2013. His wife of 52 years, Bev and his three daughters, Francie, Jacquie and Deanie were with him.
Mike is survived by his wife Beverly and three daughters Frances (Doug); Jacqueline (Brent), Nadaene (Charlie) and their children: Braden, Bailey, and Josie; Jonah and Ella; Michael and Ryan. He is also survived by two brothers, Kenneth Byron, Sr. and Terrence Byron, as well as many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by two brothers, Colin and Howard.
Mike arrived on Salt Spring Island in 1934 at the age of three with his family. He graduated from the high school in Ganges in 1949 and then enrolled in the teacher training school in Victoria. At the age of 19 he was hired by the Surrey School District as principal of a Primary School. Mike spent 11 years teaching in various Surrey schools and was principal for 10 of the 11 years. It was here that Mike met his wife Bev, originally from Slocan B.C., who was a teacher in one of Mike’s schools. Mike established the Prince Charles Boxing Club and was actively involved in the Valley Gateway Amateur Boxing Association.
In 1961 Mike accepted a position as P.E. teacher at the Gulf Islands Elementary Secondary School, and Mike and Bev moved to their farm on Beaver Point Road. Mike taught a variety of subjects during his years on Salt Spring including P.E., English, Law, Social Studies, Science, and Community Recreation. However, he is best known for the Agriculture program, which he developed in 1973. Mike retired from teaching in 1988, having been in the classroom for 38 years. He always said, “And I enjoyed every day of it.”
As well as teaching, Mike also ran a full-time farming operation, mostly cattle in the early years, and more recently, a large flock of sheep. Mike and Bev carried on a barbecue business for 25 years, cooking lambs for a variety of celebrations.
Mike was very active and well-known in the farming community. He was a member of the Farmer’s Institute since returning to the Island in 1961, and was either secretary or chairman of District A Farmer’s Institute (Vancouver Island) from 1977 to 2000. In 1976 he was the fire behind reinstating the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair which had lapsed since the 1950’s. In 1998 the Farmer’s Institute named Mike Volunteer of the Year and the BC Institute of Agrologists named him Agriculturist of the Year for the province of BC.
Mike was also well-known for his community contributions. In 1973 Mike was awarded Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce and in 2009 Mike and Bev were awarded a Community Service Award.
In so many ways Mike shared his skills and knowledge and strengthened the Islands agricultural roots. There is hardly a student or teacher who doesn’t have a story to tell or a lesson learned from “Uncle Mike”. He gave the gift of generosity to all who met him, always lending a hand without question. No task was ever too big for Mike. He lived his life with courage and perpetual energy. Now the Heavens will take on the boundless spirit of Mike Byron.
Many thanks to the doctors, nurses and support staff at the Lady Minto Hospital for their kindness, care and attention during Mike’s stay.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Canadian Red Cross.
Service details to follow in next week’s paper.