Thomas P. Byrne

  • DIED: August 24, 2017
  • LOCATION: Owatonna, Minnesota

Thomas Byrne, aged 95, beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, teacher, coach and friend, passed away peacefully on Thursday, August 24. Preceded in death by his wife, Mae Lou; parents, Thomas and Clara Byrne; brothers William and Robert. Survived by daughters, Jane Bicker (Howard) of St. Paul; Kathleen Byrne (John Skolte) of West St. Paul; Ellen Manakas (Ted) of Colorado Springs, CO; Mary Pat Hines (Randy) of Roseville; Barbara Falzone (Joe) of St. Louis Park; grandchildren, Kate Delwiche (Luke); Susan Lukas (Sky); Jill Dunnigan (Joe); Anne Cords (Cullen); Maggie Myer (Scott); Sarah Skolte; Rachel and Tommy Hines; John and Joey Falzone; 8 great-grandchildren; brother, John Byrne of Arlington, VA; brother-in-law Robert Ferring of Rio Verde, AZ; and many nieces and nephews.

Thomas was born on February 20, 1922, the second of four sons to Thomas and Clara Byrne of Dubuque, Iowa. He grew up playing baseball, a sport he became adept at and grew to love passionately. He played semi-pro baseball in the Dan Patch team, in a league that traveled all over Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. During the summer of 1941 Tom was offered a contract by Joe Cambria, a scout for the Washington Senators, the team that later became the Minnesota Twins, to play for their minor league team in Florida. Tom turned down the offer to stay in college. He served in the army for 35 months during the Second World War, in the HQ Group as a Chaplain's Assistant in the Pacific theater, receiving an honorable discharge in 1946. He graduated from Loras College in 1947, majoring in Education and Foreign Languages. He earned a Master's Degree in classical studies of Greek and Latin from the University of Iowa in 1948. His first teaching jobs were in Maquoketa, Iowa and at Champion, a Jesuit boys' school in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, teaching Latin. On July 28, 1949 he married Mae Lou Ferring, daughter of Bill and Lulu Ferring of Dyersville, Iowa.

Tom and Mae Lou moved their young family to Owatonna in 1952, when Tom accepted a position teaching Latin at Owatonna High School. Tom also agreed to coach the fledgling tennis team when he discovered the coaching position for baseball was already taken. Tom taught at OHS for 32 years, becoming one of the most respected and popular teachers as well as head of the Foreign Language Department. His enthusiasm for his subject matter and his delight in working with young people ensured that his career was rewarding and meaningful. Tom became Senor Byrne during the 1960's, studying and learning Spanish as interest in Latin began to wane. His name became almost synonymous with tennis in Owatonna, as he promoted the game and advocated for the building of new courts all over town. Tom coached and taught tennis to adults and children in Owatonna for over 40 years.

Tom was the recipient of many honors and awards over the years. Three of his greatest achievements included the Fulbright grant, a scholarship which gave him the opportunity to study Latin and the classics at the American Academy in Rome, Italy during the summer of 1958, his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Dubuque, Iowa in 1998 and his induction into the Owatonna High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012
.
Tom retired from teaching in 1984 with accolades from past and current students and his peers on the Owatonna faculty. He remained very active after retirement, teaching Spanish and tennis to adults and children through Community Education for another 12 years; he was an active member and President of the Kiwanis Club (1997); delivered Meals on Wheels for 18 years; as well as many other volunteer efforts in his church and community. He pursued his love of travel, played golf and tennis on different leagues and ping pong on Saturdays during the winter with other retired teachers. He also enjoyed his ever expanding family of ten grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. He lost his beloved wife Mae Lou in 2002 after 52 years of marriage, as well as many dear friends and family members.

Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. on Monday, August 28 at Brick – Meger Funeral Home, 1603 Austin Road, Owatonna. Mass of Christian burial will be 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, August 29, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 512 S. Elm Avenue, Owatonna.
Memorials preferred to St. Mary's School and St. Croix Hospice.


Visitation
  • Monday, August 28
    5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
  • Brick Meger Funeral Home
  • 1603 Austin Road
  • Owatonna, MN 55060-4021
  • (507) 451-1457
  • Get Directions
Knights of Columbus Rosary
  • Monday, August 28
    7:00 PM
  • Brick Meger Funeral Home
  • 1603 Austin Road
  • Owatonna, MN 55060-4021
  • (507) 451-1457
  • Get Directions
Visitation
  • Tuesday, August 29
    9:30 AM to 10:15 AM
  • St. Joseph Catholic Church
  • 512 - South Elm Street
  • Owatonna, MN 55060
  • Get Directions
Mass of Christian Burial
  • Tuesday, August 29
    10:30 AM
  • St. Joseph Catholic Church
  • 512 - South Elm Street
  • Owatonna, MN 55060
  • Get Directions

Condolences

“ Mary Pat - What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I am so happy to be able to learn more about him, his life, his many talents and achievements, and...Read More »

Posted by: Suzie Herzog - friend

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