When the Fountain City Business and Professional Association awarded the 2019 Claude C. Myers Award for outstanding contributions to the community, the choice was clear. Even the ducks quacked out for Roger Byrd.
The retired firefighter donates hours upon hours to benefit Knoxville, primarily through his membership in the Fountain City Lions Club and his work to maintain and improve Fountain City Lake.
Byrd worked with the city of Knoxville and former Mayor Madeline Rogero to stabilize the lake and create a wetland at the north end. Rogero made clear throughout the project that the city would provide capital funding for improvements, but maintenance would fall to the community, led by the Lions Club.
Byrd retired from the KFD in 2013, having reached the level of deputy chief after a 40-year career. Many of his former colleagues including Chief Stan Sharp and Deputy Chief Gary Compton attended the “surprise” presentation of the Myers Award.
The surprise element diminished when Byrd’s wife, Harriet, and several family members entered the room. Harriet and Gary raised two daughters and two sons. They now have 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Roger thanked everyone for coming.
He attended Rule High School but says, “Central is my new school.” And in the understatement of the year, he said of his Lions Club work: “My duties are the lake.”