Ronald William ‘Ron’ Byrd
Overlea High School grad was commercial artist who created consumer product packaging; was a fan of 1960s muscle cars
Ronald William “Ron” Byrd, a commercial artist who created packaging for consumer products and was a fan of 1960s muscle cars, died of cancer Feb. 21 at his Sparks home. He was 77.
Born in Bakersville, North Carolina, he was the son of Ray Byrd, a World War II veteran and Carling Black Label truck driver, and Jeannine Byrd, a homemaker and Social Security Administration worker.
The family moved to Baltimore’s Overlea neighborhood when he was 3 years old. He attended what was then Kenwood Junior High School and was a 1963 graduate of Overlea High School.
A student with artistic talent, he created a logo for his high school yearbook’s cover.
While still a student he enlisted in the Navy and began his service on the day he graduated. He was assigned to Newport News, Virginia. He served aboard the USS Newport News in the North Atlantic and in waters off Cuba in the months after the Cuban missile crisis.
He was the ship’s artist, and produced signs and publications.
He met his future wife, Christine Salina, while she was an Eastern High School student. Their first encounter was at a party at the Hamilton Recreation Center. They dated throughout high school and married in 1968.
Mr. Byrd became an artist for Chemical Service of Baltimore, which sold industrial chemicals. He later worked for the printing plate firm Mark/Trece and then the Mark Color Studios.
Richard Godfrey, Mark/Trece’s founder and chief executive officer, said, “Ron was professional, always well dressed and was a gentleman’s gentleman.”
Mr. Byrd was a manager in Mark/Trece’s packing design division. He did graphic designs for Proctor Silex, Corning Ware table products, McCormick spices, Noxell and CoverGirl cosmetics, Crayola, Solo Cup, Hershey Company and Becton, Dickinson and Company, a medical technology firm.
He lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the 1980s and opened the firm’s branch there. While there, he made designs for Wix Filters and Reynolds Metals. He also designed booths for industrial fairs.
“Ron was a huge asset for Mark/Trece,” said Lee Grantham, the firm’s vice president of operations. “He sold packaging and could take a product, envision everything down to its label. He did everything in the creative concept.”
Mr. Byrd also ran a Mark/Trece division in Chadds Ford Township, Pennsylvania.
“He was driven by his creativity,” said his wife, Christine. “I often wondered, ‘How is he going to do this?’ He was a man who loved his work. He worked behind the scenes to design packaging that got results.
“He had a quick wit and would come up with the right phrase after everyone else had spoken. He was kind and gentle.”
He set up his own studio in 1987 where he designed printed materials for Baltimore firms, including the Green Leaf Restaurant in Hunt Valley. He closed the business two years ago.
Mr. Byrd had a lifelong fascination with automobiles. He owned a 1964 Pontiac GTO and was a fan of muscle cars of the period. He later bought and operated a Pontiac
“He was so proud of that car,” his wife said. “There was not a car that he didn’t know its make and model,” his wife said.
He later worked for Bel Air Auto Auction in Belcamp as a driver and in sales.
For some years he lived in Joppatowne and owned a series of boats, first a runabout and later two Sea Rays. He entertained his packaging customers on the boat and fished on trips to Saint Michaels and Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
He later became a golfer and played at Winters Run Golf Club on Tollgate Road.
He enjoyed music from the 1970s and ‘80s and was a fan of radio station WSOX based in Red Lion, Pennsylvania.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Christine Ann Byrd, an interior designer; a sister, Barbara Badoniec of Overlea; a brother, Timothy Byrd of Ocean Pines; and 14 nieces and nephews.
A life celebration will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Lemmon Funeral Home of Dulaney Valley at 10 West Padonia Road.