California Elk,Volunteers Lose Friend
By Tex R. Marsolek
Jack E. Byron, Sr. (Life Member #972L), a dedicated RMEF member and volunteer since the early 1990s, passed away January 15, 2011. He was a very active member of the Northern California Chapter since 1989 and convinced me as a fellow member to become chapter chair in 1990, and eventually a life member in 1991.
His contributions to RMEF were many. Jack served as one of the first chairs of the Redding Chapter in 1988 and helped start four other chapters in northern California. He was always available to work for RMEF's mission, whether it be fundraising, procuring donations, working on habitat and elk transplant projects, or strategizing, providing council and helping the regional director. In 2003, Jack received the Southwest Region’s Outstanding Volunteer Award, which he proudly displayed on a wall near the entrance of his home. He never was seen in public without a RMEF hat, shirt or jacket. In short, Jack worked every day for RMEF.
He was also an avid hunter and outdoorsman for most of his life. In 2009, Jack’s son Curtis and a hunter friend drew a highly sought elk tag for the Marble Mountains of northern California. Jack offered to help pack the two men into hunting camp after numerous scouting trips. Curtis’ friend filled his tag in the first week, and Jack was there to help pack out the elk. The following week, Curtis filled his tag, and although Jack wasn’t available to help pack it out, his grandson was. It was one of those rare instances when three generations could see and participate in the results of one man’s hard work and determination.
Jack was born October 7, 1935, in Auburn, Maine, a long way from northern California. He lost his beloved wife and confidant Diane to breast cancer in 2007 after a long and strenuous battle. Jack himself had suffered two heart attacks and five-way bypass surgery, but it never kept him from his passion—packing into hunting camp on his mule Blackjack, and just enjoying the great outdoors.
Jack should be an inspiration to all of us who love to see wild elk in places where they haven’t been seen for decades. He will be missed, but his legacy of work on behalf of the RMEF will live on.
Goodbye, old friend, you have earned a long-needed and well-deserved rest.