Billy Byrom - Coryell Museum’s President for a Decade

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Billy Paul Byrom was president of Coryell Museum and Historical Center for a decade, from 2003 to 2013. He decided to step down in 2013.

Billy Byrom’s interest in Coryell Museum began when it was located in the J.R. Graham building.  It started simply enough when he noticed that the grass needed mowing and he asked Helen Swift, then the President of Coryell Museum, if he and his boys could do it. Helen saw potential in him and she wisely drafted him as an official volunteer. In the next few years Billy brought his sons to help with projects such as moving heavy donations or setting up displays.

Working with Helen and the other volunteers Billy did every kind of job at the museum. He continued to mow the grass, hung quilt displays, changed light bulbs and was the secretary for the museum.  When Helen Swift was ready to step down he says it was with much anticipation that he became the President. Helen Swift, the previous long-term President was his friend and he had admired her hard work and accomplishments at the museum.

Many projects were completed during his tenure as President and he is always quick to thank and compliment the volunteers working with him.

Helen would certainly be proud of the many years of hard work that Billy and the volunteers have done.

The second half of the downstairs of the Burt Building was restored and remodeled to house the accession storage and provide office space. A covering was added to the outdoor agriculture exhibit area.  The Gilbreath room was updated and remodeled, and Billy supervised the installation of video surveillance cameras. A new roof was installed over the main building in 2004.  The Court Yard area and flower garden was added last year to the space between the buildings. Hal Davidson was the builder and gardener for that project.  The outside of the Museum Building was painted in 2007.

Some of the major acquisitions during his tenure were the 1953 Ford and Model T automobiles, the windmill, the large bar and mirror upstairs in Hotel Exhibit, the Drug Store counter from old City Drug, a wooden ice box, roll top desk, and lots of pictures, documents, and smaller items. About three years ago he and the volunteers relocated and updated most of the exhibits.

The second Coryell County Family History book was published and sold.  Memorial bricks were bought, donated and placed in the sidewalk areas around the Museum.  All types of fund raisers were held – potato luncheons, style shows, Spur Fest, Spaghetti lunch, Bakeless Bake Sales, Bridal Fairs, Mexican and BBQ luncheons, and donations were made to acquire archival boxes.  Chances were sold on quilts, jewelry, artwork, and books, A cookbook was published with Coryell County recipes. Fruitcakes were sold.  Last year Billy was in charge of our first silent auction.  A team roping event was even sponsored one year and we sold a custom BBQ sauce. 

During this last year some of the larger items he and the volunteers received were the doll house exhibit, the wicker funeral casket and velvet backdrop, crocks and churns for the kitchen exhibit, a huge grist millstone, McClennan chest, German prisoner of war chest, and multiple research books from the Bobbie Faye Thorton estate.

The Gift Shop continues to be a regular source of income for the museum since it was remodeled during Billy’s presidency.   Spurfest was also a big success this year with hundreds of people touring the museum and making purchases in the gift shop!

Billy has had the responsibility for the maintenance needs of our large, historic building. He has helped to oversee replacing siding, several new air conditioning units, windows that need replacing, toilets that run and locks that stick.

However, it’s Billy’s knowledge of the Museum that is so invaluable.  He knows the history of most items, where things are located in the Museum, and how things work – such as the thermostats on the air conditioners, which always seems to get reset. He understands the alarm system and has made countless trips to set alarms or re-set alarms, turn off lights, lock doors, and unlock the elevator.

Mostly though, its Billy’s love for Coryell Museum that can be felt in everything he did– like giving up his day off on Monday for years and years to work at the Museum.  His contribution through the years was invaluable to the success of the museum.

Billy, the Coryell Museum Board of Directors, Volunteers and Members want you to accept our sincere thanks and gratitude for your past years of consistent service.  

Coryell Museum and Historical Center is open Tuesday thru Saturday as is our gift shop. Yearly Coryell Museum memberships are $20 for singles, $30 for families, and $40 for businesses and include free admission to the museum plus 4 newsletters.  Of course, large and small donations are welcome at all times.

Coryell Museum offers area schools and tour groups a delightful guided tour thru the museum with docents at many exhibits. Call the museum at 865-5007 to plan a visit.