Sen. Byrd’s will gifts $10,000 to employees with 10 years’ service

Posted: September 14, 2013


Former Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. has bequeathed $800,000 in his will to state and local institutions and an additional $760,000 to 76 long-term employees of his family’s two daily newspaper groups, The Winchester Evening Star, Inc. and the Rockingham Publishing Co., Inc.

Sen. Byrd died at his Winchester home on July 30 at the age of 98. His will was probated by Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. in Winchester Circuit Court on Sept. 9.

Under the terms of the will, Byrd left $10,000 to each full-time employee of his newspapers who had been employed for more than 10 years at the time of his death.

Sen. Byrd’s son, Thomas T. Byrd, the publisher of the newspapers, said there are 41 employees at the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, three employees at The Valley Banner in Elkton, 31 employees at The Winchester Star and one employee at The Warren Sentinel in Front Royal, who are eligible for the bequest. The Daily News-Record and The Valley Banner are part of the Rockingham Publishing Company, Inc. The Winchester Star and The Warren Sentinel are part of Winchester Evening Star, Inc.

Byrd said his father started working at The Star on July 1, 1935 and, counting his years of service as editor and publisher and on the newspaper’s Board of Directors, he completed 78 years of service to The Star. Sen. Byrd represented the third generation of his family to manage The Star.

Byrd also stated that his father started work at the Daily News-Record in 1939 and continued with the newspaper’s Board of Directors until his death, serving 74 years at that newspaper. Sen. Byrd was the second generation of his family to manage the Daily News-Record. His father, Harry F. Byrd Sr., purchased the newspaper in 1923.

The Star was founded on July 4, 1896, and the Byrd family purchased the newspaper in 1897.

“He was grateful for the members of the staff who worked more than 10 years, contributing their time and talents to the newspaper,” Byrd said. Next in tenure to Sen. Byrd, each daily newspaper has one employee who is now in her 47th year at the paper.

Additionally, Sen. Byrd left the following bequests:

$250,000 to John Handley Regional Library in Winchester.

$100,000 to The Salvation Army of Virginia for use in the Winchester area.

$100,000 to Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester “to repair or expand or otherwise improve the church building in which my mother and father were married and in which Gretchen and I were married and in which our daughter, Beverley, was married.”

$100,000 to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond.

$100,000 to the University of Virginia, Manuscripts Library, Special Collections, where the senator donated his official papers from his years of public service.

$50,000 to the Henry & William Evans Children’s Home in Winchester.

$50,000 to the Winchester-Frederick Historical Society in Winchester.

$50,000 to The Masonic Home in Richmond.

The senator’s will states that “the following cash bequests to be paid as soon as practical after my death. The bequests may be paid directly from my Pourover Trust Agreement. ...” The residue of the trust was bequeathed to Sen. Byrd’s three children, Beverley B. Byrd, Harry F. Byrd III and Thomas T. Byrd.

The value of the estate, which does not include the trust, was placed at $100,000. The will does not disclose the total amount of the trust.

Executors of the will are Byrd’s sons, Harry Flood Byrd III and Thomas Thomson Byrd.