Toody Byrd

  • Born: October 10, 1924
  • Died: April 1, 2018
  • Location: Bay City, Texas

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705

info@wcfish.com
Tel. (512) 452-8811

Tribute & Message From The Family


From the moment of her 1924 birth at the McDermett Ranch in Callahan County, Texas, when her twelve-year-old brother anointed her with the name "Toody," Toody McDermett Byrd was shaped by her independent, tenacious, and spirited West Texas childhood. The daughter of a second-generation "bigger than life," highly respected and loved rancher, Hugh McDermett, who raised prized registered Hereford cattle, practiced self-educated veterinary medicine for his friends and neighbors, and served as President of the Callahan County School Board for decades, Toody was instilled with a sense of herself and her roots at an early age. Her tiny, feisty homemaker mother, Anne Garrett McDermett, ruled the home and cooked for ranch hands and family on a wood-burning cook stove, while also reading voraciously and reciting Shakespeare and well-loved poems to Toody. Family storytelling, often filled with salty language and hilarious tales, was a treasured art on the McDermett ranch, setting the stage for Toody's lifetime of wise and funny stories.

Toody attended North Texas State University for a year before marrying her high school sweetheart, Hoyt Byrd, on September 2, 1942, a marriage that endured and thrived until her death on April 1st, 2018. Although her education would be completed later, with her undergraduate degree from the University of Corpus Christi (now a part of Texas A&M), and graduate counseling credentials at the University of Texas in Austin, Toody's actual career in education began shortly after her marriage, in a small country school in Cross Cut, Texas, where she embraced her wartime position as teacher and principal, the latter title, she often touted, was awarded because she could "run faster than the big boys." In the ensuing years, Toody and Hoyt became parents to Judy and Alan and lived across Texas as Hoyt taught and coached and Toody taught middle school social studies. In Toody's own spirited, salty words: "I've also been the coach's wife. Now in Texas, that is a rare opportunity. That's where you have to wait until after the ballgame to find out if you're married to the smartest man in the world or the dumbest SOB who ever lived (and it changed from week to week)."

After moving to Austin, where Hoyt began his career with the Texas Education Agency, Toody became a school counselor, initially at University Junior High, and later at Westlake High School and as the Director of Guidance and Student Services (Toody often joked the Director of "Gas") for the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas. In 1991, after twenty years with the Eanes ISD, Toody "retired" to pursue a post-retirement career of speaking and consulting work throughout the country. She was a keynote speaker for statewide conventions in thirty-five states, an active writer, and a member of numerous professional organizations and councils. Her many awards include the American School Counselors Writing Award, the 1981 Outstanding Counselor of Texas, The 1983 Carl Brett Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Education by the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin, and the 1989 Presidential Award for the Texas Association of Counseling and Development. For many years, Toody wrote the humor column for the Texas State Counselors Journal, writing stories that would later become the basis for her book, Dear Carl. The 71st Legislature of the State of Texas designated Toody Byrd as a State Treasure. In addition to her career, Toody was a lifelong Democrat and was active and well-known throughout the Austin community, especially in her passionate support for Westlake High School and University of Texas sports!!

When Toody published her book, Toody Byrd Talks, and Talks, and Talks… in 1998, Jann Phenix-Brown of the Austin American Statesman wrote, "Every once in a while you run across someone who speaks from the heart, with great wisdom and common sense. If that person has a sense of humor as well, we should listen with our hearts as well as ears….Toody's wisdom does not come wrapped in a saccharin bow. She is saucy not stodgy…mischievous, fun-loving and somewhat irreverent—a shorter, rounder, more mature Mary Poppins." Along with her funny, spicy words of wisdom, she always focused on the principle of kindness, often asking her students in words they would recount decades later, words that lived in their hearts: "Now, is that kind?" In Toody's book, she stated, "May we all live as long as we're useful, and laugh…and learn…and love as long as we live." The indomitable Toody Byrd practiced what she preached for all her 93 years!

Toody is survived by her beloved husband of 75 years, Hoyt, her two children, Judy (Ronnie) Woodson and Alan (Kay) Byrd; four grandchildren, Jeffrey (Rachel) Woodson, Ashley (Brad) Bailey, Hugh (Kim) Byrd, Kimberly (Shane) Gibson; fourteen great-grandchildren; three nieces and nephews. Toody was preceded in death by parents, brother H, and sister Clara Nell.

A memorial service will be held for Toody at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 7th at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Toody always joked that, while others said, "In lieu of flowers, please donate to …, she would like to say 'In addition to flowers,' please donate to …." Therefore, "in addition to flowers," Toody would welcome donations to the Toody Byrd Hugs and Kisses Scholarship Fund, established at West Lake High School upon her retirement. The fund is administered by the Austin Community Foundation at 4315 Guadalupe St., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78751.


Services


Condolence & Memory Journal

I loved working with Toody at Westlake High School and was privileged to sit on committees to select recipients for her "Hugs and Kisses" scholarship. Toody was always interested in what was going on in my English classes, and every once in a while joined us when we discussed a piece of literature. Toody usually introduced herself by saying as a girl, she loved English class and learned how to punctuate sentences using the "salt and pepper" method - a comma here, a period there, a random "shaking" of punctuation when needed. Toody loved students and educators, and I loved listening to her stories about her career. I hated missing her memorial service in order to celebrate her amazing life. There will never be another Toody Byrd.

Posted by Christine Gorychka - Austin, TX - coworker   April 12, 2018

I was blessed to be one of Ms. Byrd's students at Baker Junior High in Corpus Christi in the early 1960's. She was so dynamic and so much fun that I truly hated anytime I had to miss her class.
One of my favorite Toody Byrd experiences involved a field trip she arranged for our class to go to San Antonio. After scheduling the trip she read that Vice President Lyndon Johnson along with over 20 Ambassadors to the U.N. We're going to be there at the same time to attend the Fiesta parade. In typical Toody Byrd fashion she wrote a letter to the Vice President telling him we were also going to be there at the same time and that she would willing to "try to work into our busy schedule a private meeting between him and the Ambassadors with her class". Johnson was so taken with her audacity that not only did he set up our private meeting with him and his entourage, but also had reserved seating set aside for us in the VIP reviewing stands with him to watch the parade. What an experience for a group of Middle School kids.
Thanks to Ms. Byrd I have had a life long interest in civics and history.
George Vanderhule

Posted by George Vanderhule - Driftwood, TX   April 12, 2018

Ms. Byrd was so special. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak several times. My children were toddlers then, and she always made me laugh when she told her stories about motherhood. Now my three sons are grown, but I still remember those stories. And to this day, whenever I see an Oreo, I think of her and smile.
Lisa McKay

Posted by Lisa McKay - Austin, TX - Acquaintance   April 11, 2018

Mrs. Byrd made me feel like I was the most special kid in all of Westlake High, but I'm pretty sure that she had that same effect on everyone. Many, many years later, when her book came out, I invited her to speak for a nonprofit promoting women's memoir writing that I was involved with. She spoke to our group in the party room at Tres Amigos, her favorite place, and was, as usual, hilarious, with perfect comic timing. When you get right down to it, what could be better than the combination of Tex-Mex and Toody? Both are spicy, saucy, and unforgettable. ---Sarah Silvus, WHS class of 1979

Posted by Sarah Silvus - Austin, TX - Student   April 10, 2018

Candle

Toody Bird was a touchstone for any educator who crossed her path over decades of her work. She spoke for my special education staff retreat in 2005 by presenting her well known speech where she admits to bringing Oreos to the PTA bake sale instead of homemade goods, because "Little kids love Oreos, too!" She was proud to be a "yellow dog" democrat, because she knew if a yellow dog ran as a democrat, she would vote for it. For all she meant to us old-timers, we are grateful and have to believe that her legacy will leave impressions on the hearts of educators for generations to come. Godspeed, dear Toody. You will be missed.

Posted by Joan Altobelli - Bee Cave, TX - Friend   April 09, 2018

I enjoyed your wisdom whenever we talked at the TCA conference. You will always be remembered as a true Texas treasure.

Posted by Dr. Gloria Montalvo - Corpus Christi, TX   April 08, 2018

What a treasury Toody was to those who knew her. We attended her workshops at Counselor Conferences and then tried to use her information and style back at home in the schools where we worked. She will always be remembered her love of saving the children. She tooted her own horn and taught us to do that in a humble way to become more effective with our students and audiences. (You know what I mean.) I LOVED Toody. She acted like she knew me the next time I saw her and made every one else the same way.

Posted by Betty Hickman - Fort Stockton, TX - Coworker   April 08, 2018

Toody Bird was one of life's treasures. She was friends with my parents and later in life I got to know her as a friend when my son was at Westlake High School. What a wonderful, energetic, loving individual!! I send condolences and love to her family. I share your loss and grieve with you.

Posted by Mary Scott Nabers - Austin, TX - friend   April 07, 2018

I feel blessed to have worked with Toody Bird and the ability to call her friend. What a legacy. She brought joy to all.

Posted by Vicki Baldwin - Austin, TX - friend   April 07, 2018

To the Byrd family, The Coburn/McDermett family would like to express our deepest sympathy for the passing of Toody. Toody will be remembered for her legacy to Texas school children and carrying on her early family roots on the McDermitt Ranch in Cross Plains, Texas. We are all indebted for knowing you and blessed to have had you as a family member.

Posted by Keith Coburn - Wimberley, TX - family   April 07, 2018

To Hoyt and family,
We are so sorry for your loss.
Wes & Sandi Morales

Posted by Wes & Sandi Morales - Wimberley, TX   April 07, 2018

Toody enriched so many lives with her infectious smile, bubbly giggle and twangy voice. She never met a stranger and had a winsome way of reaching peoples hearts with her genuine compassion. As a close family friend, I was fortunate to have known her all my life. Our loss is heavens gain. Im certain theres a crowd of saints currently gathered around her listening to her side-splitting stories. I love you, Toody. Forever.

Posted by Julie Greer Stobbe - The Woodlands, TX - friend   April 06, 2018

Thanks for the memories, laughs and love!
Betty Ann Courtney

Posted by Betty Ann Courtneey - Austin, TX - friend   April 06, 2018

Alan and Kay, I am so sorry to hear of your mother's death. A friend of mine and hers from Westlake HS days shared her story with me on several occasions and now this notice. She must have been quite a gal. Lee and I will keep you and family in our prayers.

Posted by Jettie Steen Whitlock - Bandera, TX - Family Friend   April 06, 2018

Such joyful sadness when we lose one of our great ones. Toody was so special to so many in so many ways; and just when you thought you knew her well, she would surprise you again. What a wit! What a presence! Toody made a very positive contribution to life itself. Rest in peace sweet Toody.
Denny Engels, UNT Professor Emeritus and Greatful Colleague of Toody.

Posted by Dennis Engels - Lake Kiowa, TX - friend   April 06, 2018

God speed Miss Toody Byrd...your light lives on through all those you have touched. Your kindness activates in me to walk the path of The Way you Lived. A magnificent contribution to humanity. Love and Light ~ Candi

Posted by Candace Duval - Taylor, TX - Student   April 06, 2018

Aunt Toody was a gem, a real treasure!!
I know heaven is having a great reunion and Im sure Pearl ( Clara Nelle )is reminding Toody to watch your language)!!!!
Prayers to Uncle Hoyt, Alan and Kay , Judy and Ronnie and your families !!
Wish we could be there!!!
We love you all!!!
Cliff and Connie
Kirkham
Cross Plains, Texas

Posted by Cliff and Connie Kirkham - Cross Plains, TX - friend   April 06, 2018

We were so fortunate that our kids were students at Westlake during Toody's reign of "Wisdom and Laughter." She was truly a Treasure and will be sorely missed.

Posted by Janice Dempsey - Austin, TX - Friend   April 05, 2018

I met Toody as a student of Westlake High School (class of '73). What I will always remember most about her is the smile that never left her face. She could make any student feel loved. Westlake was so lucky to have her, and what a marriage - 75 years!

Posted by Minnie Ahlstrand - Austin, TX - Student   April 05, 2018

I was the first Spanish teacher at Westlake. Toody was one of the main reasons I loved my four years there. Beloved by all, Toddy was a cherished counselor to both students and faculty as she encompassed that rare combination of being irreverent, funny, witty and charming yet wise, kind and compassionate. In short, she was exceptional : a true blessing in the lives of so many.

Posted by Delia Stroud - Houston, TX - Teacher   April 05, 2018

Toddy touched so many young lives. Out son Alan had the great pleasure to know and serve her as an aide and it was one of the many highlights of his life at Westlake High. After his tragic death, she was such a comfort to us, and helped us establish a scholarship program in this name. We will never forget her. Such wit, charm, perception and just brought glow into every room she entered. Sure do miss you, Toody.

Posted by Jon and Rhoida Hornaday - Ausstin, TX - Friend   April 04, 2018

She has touched so many with her wisdom, love & wit.
We were blessed to of known her.
Kathryn McQuown Wendlandt WHS 71

Posted by Kathryn Wendlandt - Austin, TX - Student   April 04, 2018

Candle

What a gem she was! When I brought my oldest son to Austin when he was a newborn, 12 years after I'd graduated from Westlake, I called Mrs. Byrd and she came to see us at my parents' house. It meant a lot to me that she made the visit. I will never forget the twinkle in her eye and her great hugs. And we all knew we could to talk to her about absolutely anything! My condolences to her family - I know it's a huge loss.

Posted by Teresa Price - North Yarmouth, ME - Student   April 04, 2018

An outstanding educator at University Junior High

Jim Christianson

Posted by Jim Christianson - Austin, TX - Student   April 04, 2018

I was fortunate to have been a WHS student and have Toody Byrd as my counselor. She was priceless in her compassion and humor. I will try to live up to her idea of "may we all live as long as we are useful". I'm sure heaven has more joyful tears of laughter now that Toody has arrived. Carole Brawley Strange WHS class 1979

Posted by Carole Strange - Midland, TX - Student   April 04, 2018

Howard and Katherine Woerner, Westlake High School Family Members

Posted by Howard & Katherine Woerner - Pontotoc, TX - Friend   April 04, 2018

I graduated from Westlake High School in 1981 and my oldest boy will graduate from Westlake next month.

Toody Byrd was my favorite educator of all time. And I was her very favorite student of all time. Thousands of other Westlake grads say the exact same thing and, you know, we are all correct.

A few years ago, I was in the Westlake Picayune for some reason and the next week I received a stamped envelope from Toody. Inside of it was the article meticulously cut out of the Picayune and a very personal letter from Toody. Written in perfect cursive. It felt it like came from a different time, a different place.

Thanks to the technology of Youtube, Toody will live forever in this video of her speech at the 40th Anniversary of Westlake High School. She tells great stories about the Old Days at WHS and the defining moment when the "Hippies, Kickers and Nerds" all came together to bury Willie, the School Dog, who was allowed to freely roam the hallways and classrooms and was on the sidelines of every football game. To me, Willie has always represented those free-range times for all of us.

https://youtu.be/rBPV5K_cr9g

We were all blessed to go to Westlake then and even more blessed to be loved by Toody Byrd.
Godspeed, Mrs. Byrd.

Rex Hoover, WHS '81

Posted by Rex Hoover - Austin, TX - Student   April 04, 2018

You were always a bright light in my years at Westlake. You will forever bring a smile to so many and be remembered as the soul of WHS.

Posted by Mandy Smith Kelly - Round Rock, TX - Student   April 04, 2018

Oh my goodness. Where to start with Toody Byrd? I adored her, admired her, and learned so much more than Middle School World Geography at UJH. She was truly THE finest teacher I experienced. My thoughts and my prayers are with you, family, as you adjust to a different normal without her.

Posted by Mary Ann Baggett-Kraemer - Round Rock, TX - Student   April 04, 2018

To Hoyt Byrd and family: Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Toody will always be special to the students, parents and staff that she helped. The memories will sustain you until you see her again. May God Bless.
John, Linda and Dayna Matysek

Posted by John Matysek - Taylor, TX - Friend   April 04, 2018

So sorry to hear that Mrs. Byrd has gone on ahead. She was my favorite teacher of my entire career. I still think about geography fondly because of her. She was always happy and encouraging.

Posted by Pat Stivers (Barber) - Austin, TX - Student   April 04, 2018

Remembering the BEST girlfriend and human being I ever encountered. I know Heaven is sweeter and funnier with her there. We all have a mighty angel watching over us. Dianne Webb

Posted by Dianne Webb - Austin, TX - Friend   April 04, 2018

I'm sure the family in heaven are thrilled with her arrival as the family on earth will miss her dearly. Our prayers go with you.

Posted by Jim and Debbie Burtoft - Washington, PA - Family   April 04, 2018

Toody is an incredible person. She and my mom Shirley Wendlandt had a very special relationship dating back to the earliest days of Westlake. My 2 brothers couldn't get away with anything while in high school. We asked her to give mom's eulogy and she did an awesome job. Our entire family had a great relationship w/Toody and Hoyt. My brother Cavitt has been a tireless supporter of her foundation. I bet she and mom are just giggling away right now. James Wendlandt

Posted by James Wendlandt - Westlake Hills, TX - Family Friend   April 03, 2018

Such a special lady! She saved countless students at Westlake High School with her guidance and great advice. She was loved by so many and we all will miss her but carry her in our hearts forever.

Posted by Kim Oliver - Austin, TX - Friend   April 03, 2018

Candle

None of us who ever met Toody could possibly forget her! Remarkable with a riotous sense of humor, she could easily make us cry followed by more tears of laughter. She was the most genuine human being I have ever known and wish she could be replicated many times, but she was too rare a bird for that. We all loved her in Eanes ISD; I feel so lucky to have known her and to have been embraced by her boundless energy for hugs. What a sparkler she was!! With her wickedly hilarious sense of humor she probably made her exit on April Fool's Day AND Easter on purpose! She will live on and on and on in our hearts and in the legions of children's hearts she touched.

Posted by Diane Brewer - Austin, TX - Coworker   April 03, 2018


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