Cal Byrd is Citizen of the Year

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Longtime Williston resident and city councilman Cal Byrd was named Citizen of the Year by the Junior Woman’s Club during the Independence Day celebration last weekend.

The text from the announcement is as follows:

"The Citizen of the Year is a man who has always been around supporting our community in a most steadfast but quiet manner.

"He has never been one to hog the spotlight but now is the time to give this man the very public recognition that he so rightly deserves. Williston’s 2014 Citizen of the Year is Cal Byrd.

"Here are a few fun facts that you probably don’t know about Cal Byrd.

"Cal was born in Tennessee in 1948. He was a premature baby and his mother used to put him in a sack that she pinned to a pillow to keep him from getting lost in the bed.

"Cal’s family moved to Williston in the late 50s. His mother is Oneida Douglas and his step-father was the late Horace Douglas.

As a child, he worked with Horace and learned to excel at many different jobs.

Cal attended Williston Elementary and graduated from Williston High School in 1968. While at WHS, he was active in the FFA even serving as President.

In 1967, the FFA string band was state champions with Cal playing the washboard. Cal was in the first home economics class at Williston High. He and his friends tormented the teacher, Mrs. Lola Belle Smith, by changing the canisters which contained the salt and the sugar. They would also place the flour canister in front of the fan. And you can only imagine the end results. His teacher later said that she really enjoyed their enthusiasm but she thought she would stick to having girls in home economics from then on.

"Cal married his wife, Laura, in 1970. He graduated from Barber College and worked as a barber for many years before becoming a Gainesville Firefighter.

"Later in his career, he became a driver and then a lieutenant in the fire department. At the same time, he was a volunteer in the Williston Fire Department and helped to put out fires here at home. He later helped to organize the Williston Fire Department into the wonderful organization that it is today.

"Cal and his wife adopted four children (Rusty, Michael, Jennifer, and Ronnie) and had one natural born son, Stephen. In the early 80s, he helped organize and start the Williston Youth Athletic Association and because he has always had either a daughter or niece or granddaughter performing for the Williston School of Dance, he has always been one of the School of Dance’s biggest supporters.

"Cal has been a city councilman on the Williston City Council since approximately 1980. In that time, he helped organize and run the July 4 celebration and parade for more than 30 years. The aim of those first years was that this would be a free celebration so that people with low incomes or people with huge families would be able to attend and enjoy without it costing an arm and a leg. Much of this spirit carries on today.

"He was part of the planning committee that made the Linear Park into what it is today. He was on the airport committee for many years and helped to make many improvements to our airport. He was instrumental in getting the Williston Elementary school placed inside the city limits of Williston instead of being put out in the county where it would be harder for residents to get to.

"He has been a member of the Church of God for many years. While at the Williston Church of God, he helped to build the building that was the kitchen in the old church (now the WCCA).

" He is currently attending the Bronson Church of God where he has volunteered his time and money for many years. He helped to remodel what is now the Sunday school rooms. He has cut the grass around the church every week for many years. He also cuts grass for the elderly or sick members that need help. He cooks for the men’s steak suppers and helps with the cooking for many other activities. He is currently renovating the old Bronson High School gym into a type of community center for the town of Bronson.

"In the past few years, he has helped out at the Williston Central Christian Academy doing everything from fixing furniture, to assisting with getting the playground operational, to helping remodel new rooms for new classes as the school grows.

"While doing all of this, he has been a good father to his five children and a wonderful grandfather to his seven grandchildren and a great husband to his wife.

"Whether you have ever realized it or not, there has rarely been a community event that has taken place in Williston in the last 30 years that Cal Byrd has not been involved with. He has always been here supporting each and everyone of us by donating his time, his services, his money and his heart."