Longtime educator Byrd dies at 85

Published 6:11 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When Hurricane Rita devastated Sabine Pass in 2005, its school severely damaged, there was one person who came in and with the knowledge and compassion to help — Zack Byrd.

“The community was in such a disarray. We had not had a storm like that in my lifetime,” Kristi Heid, superintendent for Sabine Pass Independent School District, said. “One of the most important things was to get the school up and running. He came in like a knight in shining armor and guided us to where we needed to be.”

Byrd, 85, who died Tuesday, is remembered for his contributions to education as well as kindness to others.

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A Mount Vernon native, Byrd began his career as a woodshop and industrial arts teacher at Woodlawn Junior High School and worked as a counselor, assistant principal and superintendent in Port Neches-Groves Independent School District in a career spanning 35 years. He later went on to High Island Independent School District. Then one day he got a call from Sabine Pass ISD.

“There was a lot of things to do here,” Byrd said in a 2006 interview referring to the mounds of paperwork necessary for insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency aid and a Texas School Re-start grant. He continued to work with the district as a consultant after a permanent superintendent came on board. He worked in the education field until he was 80.

Heid said Byrd was the perfect fit for Sabine Pass School and the community.

“There wasn’t too many people he didn’t know,” Heid said. Literally, with Rita, I was at the beginning of my career as principal then. I always told Mr. Byrd I would have loved to work with him longer. He was so well loved, he’ll be missed.”

Barbara Comeaux, a hall of fame volleyball coach at PNG High School, said Byrd was assistant principal there in 1972 when she began working there. She worked with him as he moved to principal then superintendent of the district.

“I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. He’s one of the best I’ve worked with and it was fun working with him,” Comeaux said. “He always seem to instill an atmosphere where teachers were glad to be here and glad to be doing what they do.”

Comeaux said Byrd had a sense of humor that helped put people at ease, and that he took pride in the district’s schools. He cared about the involvement of our students and whatever they were doing, she added.

“We lost a great, not just great champion for kids but a great educator,” she said. “It’s a loss for his family as well as all of us.”

Visitation for Byrd will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church-Port Neches followed by the service at 1 p.m. Interment will follow at the family cemetery in Warren. Funeral services for Byrd are under the direction of Melancon’s Funeral Home in Nederland.