Cecilia Marie Byars, age 81, passed from this life on October 3, 2021. She was born on March 8, 1940 in Kilgore, TX to Cecil Neal and Arlyn Maddox O’Rear.
Strength and softness found harmony in Cecilia. From her heart shone an unequaled support and love; to her, the heart of a person and the needs of others mattered most. She lived life simply, without pretense, thankful for her many blessings and loved ones. In her youth, she happened, upon leaving a gathering of friends, to meet a young man, Gene, that drove her home. Though neither knew it, it was the start of something that few find in this life. Neither were looking for it, but like most precious memories, it started simply; Gene saw where she lived and knew it was good hunting land. They spent their first date together dove hunting on her family’s land. She was still in high school, accomplishing much, being a Majorette for the school band and an exceptional ballet dancer; while he recently graduated, was honing his skills at the billiards table, working, and growing each day more in love with his “Cellie”. After her graduation from Minden High School in 1959, they joined their hands in marriage on May 28, 1959, cementing their love and uniting their hearts. Once her Gene was accepted on an archery scholarship to college, Cecilia, true to her unwavering nature, supported him fully. He would go on to receive his Bachelor’s Degree, then his Master’s Degree, and finally his Doctorate, pursuing a career in education. And always by his side, raising the children that their love had produced. To say that she was a “good mom” would be the equivalent of saying she was a “good wife”, Cecilia never would have claimed either title, but to Gene and her children, she was the best of mothers and the epitome of a faithful, loving partner. One hundred percent was her way, and she knew no other. Once Gene’s career got kickstarted and the children mostly grown, she pursued her dream of going to school, earning two Bachelor Degree’s from LA Tech. Sharing a class with her children was always a delight to her, and when roll was called, Cecilia would proudly proclaim which children were hers. After completing her education, she taught various primary school grades at various schools, wherever life led her and Gene’s careers, and upon retirement in 2001, with his following in 2003, they bought a motor home and travelled through all 48 of the contiguous United States, and would have gone to the other two, yet they were not fond of air travel and there was no bridge to Hawai’i. “Granddaddy” and “Grandmommy” were proud of the grandchildren that kept coming into their lives, and eventually the great-grandchildren, and in them was found an additional focus for her loving, supporting heart. Coke was “her coffee”, and it was her beverage of choice nearly every morning. While Gene, as most men, had no fishing partner that surpassed in talent, he would gladly admit that she was “as good” as him, with Cecilia enjoying bank fishing for white perch, relaxing and cherishing their time spent together. The generous giving inherent to her, not of earthly goods, but of her love, made an immeasurable impact on many hearts and defined for her family the meaning of unconditional. As she ended her visit on this Earth and passed into the arms of her Lord, she will be missed until the day appointed that her loved ones will be together with her again.
Left to honor her memory is her beloved husband of 62 years, Noel E. “Gene” Byars; daughter, JoAnna Haynes and husband, Danny, of Minden, LA; sons, Eugene Byars and wife, Katerena, of Lumberton, TX, Tim Byars of Dyersburg, TN, and Richard “Randy” Byars and wife, Kristin, of Beaumont, TX; brother, Mike O’Rear of Shreveport, LA; grandchildren, Matthew Byars and wife, Tara, Rebecca Silcox and husband, Jon, Baylee Tingle and husband, David; Kris Marks and wife, Jessica, Keli Weems and husband, Jared, Erin Byars, Sarabeth Lewis and husband, Michael, Mary Catherine Leisey and husband, Eric, Logan Byars, Caleb Byars, Ally Kate Byars, Brady Byars, Tyler Byars, Stephanie Cook and husband, Nathen, Jenna Durkin and husband, Cole, Andie Wright and husband, Johnathan, Joshua Randolph Byars, and Amanda Grace “Gracie” Byars; 18 great-grandchildren; and a host of extended family, friends, former students, and loved ones.
Cecilia is preceded in death by her parents and sister, Loraine Barnard.
Visitation with family and friends will be 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Thursday, October 7, 2021, at Eastside Missionary Baptist Church, 1201 Park Hwy, Minden, LA 71055. Cecilia’s life honoring service will follow at 1:00 p.m., also at the church, with Bro. Chet Johnson officiating, and burial to follow at Gardens of Memory, 1527 Lewisville Rd, Minden, LA 71055.
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