Von Lenord Byrd

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MADISON - Von Lenord Byrd, age 81, of Middleton, passed away on Aug. 9, 2020. 

He was born on June 17, 1939, in Sevierville, TN, the son of Frank Byrd and Joanna (Lane) Byrd. Von graduated from Sevier County High School as Salutatorian of his class, and received a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and an MS from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. 

Von came to Madison to work at the US Forest Products Laboratory. He married Maralyn Pongratz on Dec. 18, 1965. He returned to Raleigh to pursue his Ph.D. in Wood and Paper Chemistry, which he received in 1971. In 1975 Von moved his family to Stockholm, Sweden, where he did a post-doctoral year of study at the Swedish Forest Products Research Laboratory.

Von’s research was concentrated in converting paper making and fiber and paper physics. In 1985, he left the Forest Products Lab and joined Mead Corporation’s Central Research Division in Chillicothe, OH. He also worked with ABB-DAN Web Forming International of Denmark. Von returned to Madison in 1998, upon the birth of his only grandchild, and completed his professional career at the US Forest Products Laboratory. After retirement from the Forest Products Laboratory, he enjoyed working as a tax preparer. 

Dr. Byrd was a registered Professional Engineer in Ohio, and had presented his research findings and given technical talks at TAPPI (Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry) conferences in the U.S. and in several foreign countries, as well as at Forest Products Research Society meetings and Gordon Research Conferences. He was a published author of more than 90 technical papers, and had authored a chapter in a book written by a colleague. In addition, he has lectured at the University of Wisconsin, Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, and the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton. He served as Executive Director and as a trustee of SWST/Forest Products Society Midwest Section, and Chairman of the TAPPI Paper Physics Committee.

As a young boy, Von dreamed of seeing Russia, Australia, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Egyptian Pyramids, and other places he’d read about. Throughout his life he fulfilled many of those dreams, visiting some of the 40 foreign countries on six continents more than once. Above all, Von’s greatest joy was to spend time with his wife, daughter (Jennifer), son-in-law Adam and granddaughter, Abra, as well as his extended family and friends. He enjoyed the great outdoors, and especially enjoyed camping, biking and tennis. He loved life and lived his to the fullest. He adored the family dogs, Tina, Hannah, and Abby. He was also a lifelong Packers fan, enjoyed country music, was a trivia/Trivial Pursuit enthusiast, loved watching his granddaughter Abra in the Badger Band, relished eating breakfast out, and was always up to the challenge of a good crossword puzzle.

Von is survived by his wife, Maralyn; daughter, Jennifer, son-in-law, Adam Berkoff, and granddaughter, Abra Jolie Berkoff, all of Chicago; and his beloved dog, Abby. He is also survived by his sister, Joan Smith, and brothers, Carl (Lorene) and Gene (Kay), all of Tennessee; brother-in-law, Herman (Eileen) Pongratz; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Joanna; brother-in-law, Alvin Smith Sr.; in-laws, Herman and Marie Pongratz; brothers-in-law, Raymond and Ralph Pongratz; sister-in-law, Rosalie Pongratz; and beloved dogs, Tina and Hannah.

An outdoor memorial gathering will be held on Aug. 14, 2020, from 2-4 p.m. at Maralyn’s home.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, please wear a mask and practice social distancing. Memorials in Von’s name may be made to the Dane County Humane Society or the First Unitarian Society of Madison. Online condolences may be made at gundersonfh.com.

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