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Jerry Byers12/09/1963
Jerry Lee Byers, self-taught singer, guitarist, and pianist who cut several records during the last year in a race against cancer died at Mahaska Hospital here Monday.

He was born Nov. 10, 1933, at Bussey, the son of Clarence and Odessa Grapevine Byers, and died December 9, 1963.

The son of a coal miner, Byers was born at Bussey and reared at Lovilia, Pershing, and Knoxville. He attended school at Knoxville where he learned to play the piano without formal instruction. He started playing the piano professionally at 11, a self-taught musician.

Byers, 30, was given “six months to live” last December by surgeons who operated on him at University Hospitals, in Iowa City.

Married and the father of six children, Byers went ahead with his music plans, He had recorded a number of vocal selections and a piano record was due to be released this week. He was to follow it with a piano album.
He appeared with the Grand Ole Opry group in Nashville, Tenn., within the past year

Byers had received some financial help during his period of illness, including receipts from several benefit entertainment shows.

His wife underwent major surgery in Oskaloosa last February.
Byers underwent treatment at Iowa City for eight days.

Jerry Byers, age 30, of 320 north A street, Oskaloosa, Iowa, who climaxed his career in the entertainment field by recording some of his own compositions and an album of piano playings, died at 12:19 p.m. Monday at Mahaska county hospital. Jerry, the tragic victim of cancer, launched his recording career in February when the people of Oskaloosa and the surrounding area contributed about $300 to pay his expenses to Nashville, Tenn. So that he could accept the invitation of a company to cut several records.

He made a record of his own song, “Red, White and Blue,”
and recorded several other albums that included singing and piano playing.

He was well-known in night spots around Oskaloosa as a piano player and had played frequently on radio and television. On September 28, 1963, Jerry got his chance to play at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennesee, with encouragement from his friend Hank Snow.

Although he was on the verge of capitalizing on his talents at the time of his death, the entertainer’s illness and death find the family penniless. He had no life insurance policy or social security coverage. As yet, the family has not received any income from his records.

According to the arrangements made with the record company, they are to receive all proceeds from the record first. If sales continue well, the family possibly will receive some money from this work.

Surviving is his wife, Betty Raines Byers, and the six children; three daughters, Teresa, 7; Glenda, 2, and Leanna, 1; three sons, Keith, 11; Larry, 9; and Billy, 4; all at home, and his mother, Mrs. Odessa Byers of Knoxville.

Also, surviving are seven sisters and three brothers. They are Mrs. Mae Jacobs of Eagle Mountain, Calif., Mrs. Del Mack of Bacliff, Texas, Mrs. Joyce Land of Belleville, Ill., Mrs. Janice Birdsley of North Fort Meyers, Fla., Mrs. Ardeth Kerr of Grinnell, Mrs. Mary Pitt of Knoxville, Mrs. Ivonne Grimes of Chariton, Orval Byers of Mound, Minn., John Byers of South San Francisco, Calif., and Hughey Byers of Grinnell.

Services will be at the Assembly of God church Friday, Dec. 13, at 1:30 p.m. with burial at Forest cemetery. Rev. Max Johnson will officiate with the Garland chapel in charge of arrangements.

Byers’ manager, Bill Krigler of Des Moines, stated he felt there was still a need for the “Jerry Byers Fund” to which the people of the area contributed last winter and gave $50 for the use of the family.
Jerry Byers
Officiating Clergyman: Rev. Max Johnson

Music: Floyd Kamerick
Soloist: DeVere Adams, steel guitar
Mr. Tony Kool
Mr. John Durham
Mr. HowardLanphier
Mr. Gene Dowell
Mr. Orman Lemonds
Mr. Charles Montgomery

Forest Cemetery

Garland Funeral Home in Oskaloosa