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Larry J. Byers

June 6, 1950 - February 1, 2018

Larry J. Byers of Keizer, Oregon passed away on February 1, 2018. He was born June 6, 1950 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Larry grew up in Southern Oregon, where he met and married his wife, Suzanne (Petsch) Byers in 1967. He attended Southern Oregon College and Portland State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Education and his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. Larry moved his family to Keizer, Oregon when he began his career at Chemawa Indian School in 1976. Larry’s passion for the youth he served spanned several decades, during which time, he continued to teach and coach football, wrestling, basketball and baseball. Larry was known for his dedication to his students, and is remembered for greeting them each morning as they arrived for class, honoring his athletes at the Exchange Club, and guiding them to find success in their lives. He was an innovator in this way, and worked with the university system to enable his scholars’ pathways to a higher education. Larry was proud to have capped his career as a Supervisor/Superintendent at Chemawa after a 30-year tenure. He was also instrumental in establishing Bureau of Indian Affairs national educational policy before he retired.

Larry’s love for his family was paramount. He talked with pride about his children, and his grandchildren were the loves of his life. Annual spring break getaways, visits to Disneyland or time spent with the grandchildren visiting their Nona and Papa were the highlights of his life. With the move from Southern Oregon, Larry made new relationships but never parted with the “Bunch,” a group of steadfast friends. The Bunch have gathered since their college years for an annual retreat, playing softball, golf and enjoying fun times reliving many memories. Larry was a long-time member of the Salem Golf Course, spending many a day out on the green or sharing stories in the clubhouse. He was also a member of the USBC and bowled at the local, state and national levels.

Larry is survived by his wife, Suzanne; his mother, Norma, and sister, Carol; son Joey and his wife, Yvonne, and their children; and daughters Jodi and Janelle. His father, Joe, preceded him in death. Larry and family were members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem.

A memorial will held from 2:00pm to 4:00pm Sunday, May 20, 2018 at the Salem Golf Course (2025 Golf Course Rd. S.) in Salem.

The family suggests that memorials may be made to Special Olympics , 420 Pine St. NE, Salem, OR 97301; the Salem Exchange Club ,  P.O. Box 13163, Salem, OR. 97309; St. Jude’s Children's Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN. 38105; or a charity of their choice.

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Guest Book Entries

Sue (Mom #2),

My prayers and love are with you and your entire family. Please let me know if I can help in any way.


Sue - This is Julie Black.  I am devastated to read about Larry.  My heart goes out to you and your family.  It has been way too long since we have had any contact but I certainly think about the good old days often and you and your family were a big part of that.  Please take care of yourself.  I'm sorry for your loss.

Julie Black

Suzanne,  I was so very sad to learn that Larry had passed away.   My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this very difficult time.  
Fondly,   Penny Levin

Larry was my best friend. ALWAYS there for me. We talked a lot about life as we traversed it and he taught me many things. Larry could fill a stadium with the people who would call him, “friend”. I’ve known him since little league. We played a lot of ball together and he was an amazing athlete! I love you and miss you, my friend. God blessed me when he put you in my life. RIP my friend. 

Dear Byers Family,
There are no words to express our sorrow for Larrys passing. The “Chief” was a great leader, coach, husband, father, and friend.  He will be missed and remembered by all who were fortunate enough to know him. 
Dave & Linda Johnson

Larry was a great guy I competed against in baseball as a youth...he was a great athlete a real competitor...going to miss playing golf with him at the Bunch reunion...going to miss his stories and his contagious thoughts are with his family

We are so sorry for your loss.

Suzanne and family  - So sorry for your loss. Fond memories of a good childhood friend at Kerby grade school. It was always nice connecting w him when our kids played against Chemawa. May God’s love and comfort surround you always.   

Dear Sue,
We were so shocked to hear of Larry’s passing. Our hearts go out to you and your family. I know Casey was so appreciative that he arranged for the YMCA Swim team to use the pool out at Chemawa. Larry was  like that, always happy to help out. I’m sure he will be missed by the many friends he had over the years. This loss must be devestating for you, but know that the pain will lessen as time goes on.  You have many years of wonderful memories to comfort you.  Take care of yourself and know that   You are in our thoughts.  
Fondly, Cathy Jones

After every bad golf shot Larry would always say " it'll be alright " ; it'll be alright CHIEF RIP. For sure the BUNCH will be telling stories & celebrating Larry's life at this summers re-union !  

So sorry for your loss.  He was an important part in our boys lives, as were you Sue.  Will miss him, but our family has a lot of great memories of The Byers!

Sue, I am so sorry for the loss you must feel at this time. I was a student at Chemawa from 86-90. During that time you and Mr. Byers and the kids treated us lost ones as your own. I was honored to be part of the silkscreen club and travel to Hawaii with everyone. Y'all impacted my life at a level he never new. I am now a Recreation director at Job Corps and I have started a silkscreen club. I strive daily to pay it forward for the kindness and inspiration that made me the man I am today. My only regret is I never got to see him in my later days to say thank you for being that mentor I needed when I was alone. He was a major part in my graduating and joining the Marines, he will be truly missed by all.
My deepest condolences,
Semper Fidelis

I was shocked & sad to have read this, "RIP Coach Byers!" Sending prayers & ((HUGGS)), I attended Chemawa 1983-85' & was glad to have known him. He made a journey to Lummi in 03 or 04 & got to watch my oldest son play baseball~ Was indeed a great coach, friend & person~ again R.I.P.