Bryne to lead Irish down parade route

James Richard Byrne has been named grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 17 in Oak Harbor. - Submitted photo
James Richard Byrne has been named grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 17 in Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Submitted photo

By Helen Chatfield-Weeks

Special to the News-Times

The Irish Wildlife Society of Oak Harbor voted unanimously to have James Richard Byrne as their Grand Marshal for the 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 17 in Oak Harbor.

“He sure has a well known name here in Oak Harbor,” said long-time member Roby McGee Strehle. Her husband Dutch added, “and Jim is a real nice guy, too!”

Roby was referring to an early Oak Harbor businessman L.P. Byrne who had a general store in a two story building on Pioneer Way in 1910. It was one of the largest structures at 70-feet by 60-feet, according to the late Dorothy Neil’s book, “By Canoe and Sailing Ship They Came.”

Grand Marshal Byrne is interested in the early history and wonders if he may have been related to L.P Byrne. His grandparents immigrated from County Wicklow, Ireland in the 1900s to New York. His father, James Joseph Byrne and his wife, Edith, settled in Yonkers where Jim was born. He attended college at Oneonta New York State University and got a degree in 1972 in geology, he met his wife, Tina, in graduate school. She is from Sloatsburg, N.Y.

They lived in Houston, Texas, where Byrne had an oil and gas consulting business. For 15 years, they vacationed in the Pacific Northwest, mostly on the Olympic Peninsula, and then decided to look for a retirement home here three years ago, with the help of real estate “relocation specialist” Geri Morgan. She also sponsored him in the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, which is keeping him busy as he was elected to rear commodore position. That usually leads to vice commodore then commodore. “We enjoy the activities, and look forward to Race Week each year,” he said.

Both Jim and Tina are walkers, and have a 5-year-old boxer named Roxie who joins them each morning and afternoon for the daily walks. They also enjoy kayacking.

“We are also great supporters of the library, as we read a lot!” Jim pointed out. They go the Thrive gym every day and keep healthy and strong. He was proud to say they take no medications at all.

“I am very pleased to have been chosen the Grand Marshal,” Byrne said.

At 6-foot, 2-inches, he will be an imposing one!

The public is invited to join in the parade by wearing green, and meeting at 3:45 p.m. at Smith Park March 17 for the walk to Windjammer Park and the Blarney Stone where James Richard Byrne will be given the opportunity of kissing it, and thus make an excellent speech. A short program will be held, and then a sing-a-long featured at the Yacht Club. Dinner is $10. For information, call Roby McGee Strehle, 675-0235.

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