Friday, June 24, 2016

No. 168: Byron K. Smith—A Memorial Tribute

Byron K. Smith
Byron K. Smith, a native and lifelong resident of Bloomington, Indiana, died May 29, 2016, at age 71. The obituary in our local newspaper included this sentence: "It was important to Byron that his total blindness be only a minor issue for his family and friends." He is survived by his beloved wife Patsy, three stepchildren, an adopted son, and seven grandchildren.

Byron attended the Indiana School for the Blind. He also attended local elementary schools, and junior and senior high schools. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University, where he majored in radio and television. He worked for many years at Indiana University as a writer, radio reporter, tape editor, program producer, and radio host. He was also active with the student-run radio station on the Indiana University campus. I will forever cherish the memory of the time he interviewed me on tape for his radio show.

According to the obituary, Byron listened faithfully to radio broadcasts of Indianapolis Colts football games and Indiana University men's basketball games. My wife and I attended those basketball games for about 50 years, and we often saw Byron sitting several rows behind us. When I walked by his row on the way to our seats, I would say, "Hello Byron." He would instantly respond, "Hi Joe." His ability to identify people by their voices was always a source of amazement.

Byron worked hard to improve accessibility in Bloomington for people with handicaps. He was a founding member of the Council for Community Accessibility. He was a member, deacon, and elder of the First Presbyterian Church. After his retirement from the University, he served with Volunteers in Medicine and Southern Care Hospice. His favorite charities were the Indiana School for the Blind, the National Braille Press, and the First Presbyterian Church.

Byron was an extraordinary human being. He was a source of inspiration to me and to everyone who had the good fortune to know him.