Jim & Jean Byer
A good marriage, good partnership & an interest in what is important to each other has added up to 45 years of marriage for Jim & Jean Byer of Williams Lake; it is part of why they have been chosen, together – to be the 2010 Stampede Lifetime Pass recipients.
In the late 1970’s; Jim & Jean – associated with friends in the W.L.Vintage Car Club, did their first volunteer work at Stampede – in the beer garden with car club members.
In 1996, daughter Lorina (2 other children, Todd & Leanne) ran for Stampede Queen/Jean was asked to help organize the Queen’s tea. Lorina, crowned the Stampede Princess – brought a new family of volunteers to Stampede! As she became more involved, so did Jean, then Jim; Jean, with the Queen’s committee & Jim at the work bees.
By 2001, Jim was a director (working with Mark Denny) on the sponsorship committee; soon after, the buildings/maintenance section was tacked on to his portfolio. In 2003, the building portion of Jim’s portfolio came to the forefront as Stampede tackled the issue of the decrepit grandstand washrooms.
Jim says, “The washrooms were gross; users were complaining loudly about them. Not only the visitors to Stampede, but also the volunteers who had to clean them over the four-day event.”
Jean was still volunteering; 10 years of Queen’s teas, chaperoning, coronation, helping with 50-50 (ripping thousands of tickets!) ushering, ticket taking, working in the grandstand office – painting, scrubbing and cleaning – anything that was needed.
In 2004, Jim’s health was failing – he needed a lung transplant. He carried on; but by Stampede time he was carrying portable oxygen/waiting for a life-changing phone call.
Jean recalls, “I was in the Dodge truck (with Kurt Gustafson) in the middle of the rodeo arena on July 3rd and they were singing’Oh Canada’ when I realized someone was tapping on the truck window. The message; Jim needs you – now.”
Jim had got the call, the couple left immediately – by midnight (Vancouver) he was ready for the operation, early – on July 4th he received a donor lung. What a gift; the 4th of July is a day of celebration now.
Jim was reinstated as a director in 2005, became the Vice-President that year (until 2009) –happy to be back.
In 2008; the association was approached by Rick Durfeld/Durfeld Log Construction who wanted to do a community project. Many projects were considered, but the old infield grandstand was literally rotting away – so that decided it. With the Durfeld’s and Wood Tick Construction making major contributions (Harrison Design) and Jim giving oodles of his time– the beautiful new log grandstand was completed in time for Stampede. In 2009, the same group came together to construct the new box seating/announcer’s stand – a proud accomplishment.
Jim says, “I always really enjoyed the month of June and my daily visits with the Stampede office staff, it was great fun.”
Jim stepped down – as a director – at the end of last season, his body tires more easily than it used to, but he and Jean will continue as volunteers. Thank you, on behalf of the Williams Lake Stampede Association!
– Liz Twan