With family members at her bedside, Marjorie Nicholson Byrnes, 91, entered into eternal rest on Jan. 12, 2016, at the Veterans Administration Hospice Care unit in Coatesville, Pa. She was the wife of the late James Leroy Byrnes.
Born May 17, 1924 in North Wales, Pa., she was the daughter of the late Amy Nicholson. She is a 1942 graduate of Lansdale High School, where she was involved in sports and other activities and was one of the organizers for the class reunion for the next several decades.
Following graduation, Mrs. Byrnes joined the U.S. Navy WAVES (“Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”) and reached the rank of PhM2 during World War II. She was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and was an active member of the WAVES national organization and attended conventions for six decades. She is believed to be one of the last surviving WAVES that served in World War II.
After her service to her country, she married Mr. Byrnes and together they raised four children until Mr. Byrnes’ passing in 1988. She also began a professional career that over four decades took her from a secretary at the Philco Ford plant on North Wales Road in Lansdale to the vice president of sales for several micro electronics firms in upstate New York, Rhode Island and Southern California before retiring in the 1990s.
Throughout that time, she enjoyed traveling and making friends on family vacations in the northeastern U.S. and Canada as well as professional trips that covered the globe. She was also an avid card player, specifically bridge and pinochle, and enjoyed watching all sports, especially Big 5 basketball doubleheaders at the Palestra, NBA games featuring Magic and Shaq, Triple Crown races where she typically rooted for the gray horse and the annual Navy vs. Army football game, which she attended numerous times when it was played at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.
She was also involved in the variety of activities of her four children – the late James L. Byrnes Jr. (Cathy of Glen Mills, Pa.), Betsy Byrnes (Mary Ann Midden) of Champaign, Ill., Kathleen Lawler of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and Tom Byrnes (Coreena) of York, Pa..
Mrs. Byrnes, who held a small craft pilots license, also attended Ursinus College night school for many years and was just a few classes short of finishing her baccalaureate degree.
Mrs. Byrnes was also proud of her extended family in Brazil. She and the Byrnes family hosted eight exchange students over three decades, all from the Sampio family from Salvador, Brazil.
In addition to her children, Mrs. Byrnes had six grandchildren – Jim Byrnes (Megan), Kim Vanderhoff (Joe), Erin Goerss (Tony), Chris Lawler, Nathan Byrnes, Lauren Byrnes – and two great-grandchildren – Godfrey Byrnes and Chloe Vanderhoff – Mrs. Byrnes is survived by cousin Helen Nicholson of Telford and brothers-in-law Bill Byrnes (Liz), formerly of Lansdale, and Robert Grater (the late Peggy Grater) of Doylestown.
Memorial services for Mrs. Byrnes will be held at St. Stanislaus Church, 51 Lansdale Ave., Lansdale, at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16. Visitation will be prior to the Roman Catholic Mass Saturday at the Simcox-McIlvaine Funeral Home, 532 E. Main St., Lansdale, beginning at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Mrs. Byrnes and her dog “JJ” to the Spring House Animal Hospital, 617 N. Bethlehem Pike, Ambler, Pa., 19002, or Lansdale Catholic High School, 700 Lansdale Ave., Lansdale, Pa., 19446.