Hoffmann-Schneider & Kitchen Funeral Home
Robert Leo Byrne
( May 22, 1930 - December 06, 2016 )
Robert Byrne was not only the World’s Leading Authority on Pool and Billiards, having written many books and made numerous instructional videos, but he was also a talented writer of other genres, and a humorist without compare. His columns for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald drew many comments, mostly complimentary, and they were compiled in a book called “Behold My Shorts.” His book, “Memories of a Non-Jewish Childhood” was made into a musical by the talented David Resnick and performed at the Grand Theatre 12 years ago. He considered that one of the highlights of his career. It will be reprised on August, 2017, and he would have so loved to see the new version. His humor was well-known in Dubuque and elsewhere, and because of his billiard videos, was recognized all across the U.S. and even the world. He was inducted into the Billiard Hall of Fame in 2001, and has received many other awards and prizes for his contribution to carom sports, including U.S. Amateur and Senior Championships.
He left this earth on December 6, 2016, peacefully, painlessly, with his wife and son at his side, never to return except in spirit and his writings.
Bob was born in Dubuque in 1930 to Thomas and Clara Byrne, and was one of four rambunctious boys. They drove their mother to distraction, but Bob was always her favorite. She spoiled him unreasonably. Bob went on to get a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, and for many years edited Western Construction, a trade magazine in San Francisco, then turned to a full-time career in writing.
Tom and John Byrne survive him, and he really was unhappy to know that he, being the youngest, would die before they did. His brother Bill preceded him in death many years ago, so Bob was only able to beat one of his siblings in the game of Mortality. Bob was the only one who came back to live in Dubuque (in 1995), a town he loved in every way and promoted every chance he got.
As a husband, he was beyond reproach, except for his habit of leaving peanut butter fingerprints all over the house and himself. He was kind, loving, intelligent, tolerant, and always thought “mama was right.” His wife Cindy will miss him beyond reckoning. The years they spent traveling and going to the Dubuque Symphony, art events, Dubuque gatherings of all kinds, made him many friends because of his good nature and ability to come up with a sharp quip just when needed. The life-size cutouts of him in his residence window will continue to stand there, despite any objections from customers of Caroline’s restaurant. Cindy is so glad that she wrote him a fan letter back in 1985 in response to two of his collections of quotations, and that he responded. Postage at the time was only 22 cents, so she got a real bargain. Bob always said he felt like a mail-order husband.
People from the writing, billiard, and humor worlds will miss his voice, as will his many nieces and nephews, too numerous to mention, his dog Betty Boop and his son Russell, Russell’s wife Jackie, and his grandchildren, Julia and Tyler, who chose to visit grandpa rather than take a luxury vacation in a tropical climate in winter. Too bad their plans came too late to see him one last time.
According to his wishes, there will be no services. There will be a party in May where everyone who loved or even liked Bob can come and celebrate his long and happy life. He wanted “drinks and light appetizers for those who wish to attend.” His wife is thinking of going against his wishes and having heavy appetizers. Bob was a practical and scientific thinker who didn’t know what awaited him, but wasn’t afraid. As I scientific thinker, he knew that matter cannot be created or destroyed, and the memory of his personality will never be destroyed.
Contributions can be made to the Dubuque Symphony in his name, or whatever charity you desire.