Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Death shuts Milford school

Teacher succumbs to pneumonia complications

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MILFORD — Milford South Elementary School is closed today to mourn the death of Evelyn “Lovey” Byrer, a beloved second-grade teacher who died Saturday of complications related to pneumonia.

        The closing allows teachers and staff of the 420-student school to attend today's memorial service, said Principal Gregg Curless.

        Mrs. Byrer, 54, had taught at Milford South for eight years and was an educator for 32 years, some of that time spent in south Florida, said her mother, Shirleye Lane of Tarpon Springs, Fla.

        The family was overwhelmed at the gesture made by Mr. Curless and Milford Schools Superintendent John Frye, who agreed to the closing.

        “My entire family and her close friends here are absolutely astounded they are going to close the school,” Mrs. Byrer's husband, Brad, said Monday. “I've never heard of such a situation.”

        Mr. Curless said the school might have to make up the day at the end of the year, but he wanted to honor the educator who he said was able to listen and help each student in a way that best suited the child.

        “She was so close to everyone,” he said. “How could we decide who got to go (to the service) and who didn't?”

        The death came as a shock to the close-knit school because Mrs. Byrer taught as recently as Feb. 15, Mr. Curless said.

        Over the weekend, school officials notified parents of Mrs. Byrer's students of her death. On Monday, Mr. Curless and other teachers read to the students from the book Why Do People Die? by Cynthia MacGregor and tried to answer their questions. More than a half-dozen children's parents accompanied them to school, Mr. Curless said.

        “The focus was to celebrate her,” he said.

        The memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. at the Vineyard Community Church, 11340 Century Circle East, Springdale.

        In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Lovey Byrer Memorial Fund, Milford South Elementary School, 777 Garfield Ave., Milford, OH 45150; attn: Gregg Curless.


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