Carol Byng started out in Jacksonville, Florida on September 13, 1936, as “Dinky”, the first child of Philip Winter and Mildred Elizabeth Knight Harrison. She passed away September 15, 2022 at home in Coupeville surrounded by her family.
In December 1958, she married Ham (Hamilton) Byng, a naval aviator and spent 50 plus years following him from duty station to duty station. She loved the Monterey Peninsula, Coronado and San Diego and
detested any place that was too hot and sticky (e.g. Lemoore, China Lake and Norfolk). In 1975, when her husband was absolutely certain they would remain in San Diego for four years, she decided, at age 50, to get her university degree. A natural writer with a nose for news, Carol became a journalist, graduating Magna Cum Laude from SDSU. She was a member of Theta Sigma Phi, a professional journalism honorary, Women in Communications and other professional organizations and the League of Women Voters. Ironically, it was her poetry that was chosen to be printed in SDSU anthology during her tenure there. Within days of graduation in 1979 the Byngs headed for NAS Whidbey Island, where Capt. Byng would assume the duties of Commanding Officer. The moment she felt the fog on her face while on the deck of the ferry from Mukilteo, it was a deep, lasting love of the Pacific Northwest and Whidbey Island in particular. Carol Byng had arrived.
Although long known in Navy circles as a party giver par excellence, Dinky opted to use the name Carol Byng as her newspaper byline. Brilliant choice! She was hired on the spot by the-then Everett Herald, which had been purchased by the Washington Post. News reporting was just entering into the computer age, so it was possible for Carol to cover Whidbey Island from one end to the other from her home office and telephone and something called a “bubble-ram”. Her local fame quickly grew along with kudos that came from covering government, criminal courts, feature stories, environmental issues, growth and development on both Whidbey and Camano Islands and everything in between. When Mt. St. Helens erupted early on Sunday morning a couple of months after she was hired, Carol was standing in her waterfront home and saw the huge glass window buckle and ripple like jello. She immediately confirmed it was not an explosion on the air station but was “the big one”. Carol called her editor so The Herald could get their photographers into the air as quickly as possible. With his threat (“If you are wrong, you’re fired!”) ringing in her ears, she began calling residents all over both islands to chronicle what they saw and felt during the earth-shaking event.
Over the years, Carol covered a stand-off by the FBI that ended in a fiery death of a fleeing felon who killed a couple of agents and tried to hide in a cabin in Greenbank. She covered a tragic story of two law enforcement officers, including one she had known for years, who made a fatal assumption that a local nutcase was harmless. Her stories about a very sensational Whidbey Island murder trial were carried by the Washington Post.“It’s been a great ride”, she would often say.
Her ride was finally reduced to a motorized wheelchair after a neurological disease halted her solo travels around the world. She would have booked passage by ship and sailed to China, Asia and Africa if her suffering husband had been willing. Finally, a second bout with cancer and other health issues ended her writings forever. While living in Coupeville, Carol was a founding member of Soroptimist International of Coupeville. She sat on the first Planned Parenthood Advisory board on Whidbey Island and proudly displayed a poster that stated her Pro-Choice advocacy. She belonged to The Nature Conservancy and many other environmental organizations. She supported more than a dozen historical societies and was an avid genealogist.
She is survived by her husband, Capt. W.H. Byng, USN, Ret.; daughters Elizabeth Byng Gordon (Norman Gordon) of Los Angeles CA and Susan Byng (Dave Boutelle) of Bellevue ID; and son Capt. USNR, Ret. Robert H. Byng (Kim Anthony Byng), grandchildren Katelyn Byng, Weston Byng and Kameron Durrette (Daniel Durrette) and great grandson Hezekiah Durrette. Her final resting place will be Sunnyside Cemetery amongst many friends. Private services will be held at a later date.