William “Bill” Winslow Byington, Jr., age 71, of Rome, Georgia passed away on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at his residence.
Bill was born in Augusta, Georgia, on June 12, 1951. As the son of a Methodist minister, Bill grew up in many towns across Georgia, including Augusta, Royston, and Madison, but he called Conyers home. He graduated from Rockdale County High School and then became a Double Dawg, with a degree in history from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the UGA School of Law. Bill was a lifelong diehard fan of UGA football and really all college football.
Survivors include his wife of 33 years, Janet Farrar Byington and their children Will Byington, III (Heather), Rome, Georgia, Dr. Kelly Malone (Patrick) of St. Simons, Georgia and Emily Johnson (Bryan) of Rome, Georgia. They were proud grandparents of William Byington, IV, Thomas Byington, Natalee Johnson and George Johnson, all of Rome, Georgia, and Banks Malone and Bishop Malone, St. Simons, Georgia. His parents, the Reverend Bill and Hazel Barnett Byington preceded him in death.
Bill practiced law in Rome for 47 years and was a senior partner at Cox, Byington and Twyman where he specialized in real estate law. Bill also served as the United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Georgia for 11 years. He proudly served his country for six years in the Georgia National Guard. He was a 40 year member of the Rome Rotary Club. He served on the Board of the Chiaha Guild for 35 years. He was a member of the UGA Library Board of Visitors. He was also an active member of Coosa Country Club and a faithful parishioner of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Bill loved to travel. He and Janet visited over 24 countries during their marriage. When asked about the foundation of their long marriage, Bill often responded “no similar interests and nothing in common.” It seemed to work. Bill also loved reading. He often read two books at once and his favorite books were historical accounts of the War Between the States and World Wars I and II. His favorite bookstore was G J Ford on St. Simons Island. St. Simons was a special place for Bill after having visited there most every summer of his entire life.
Bill’s true passion though was baseball. He had an uncanny and encyclopedic knowledge of obscure historical facts and statistics. He grew up listening to baseball on his radio but also was fortunate enough to attend every opening game at every stadium of the Atlanta Braves. Diehard fans Bill, Randy Davis, Mike Haney and Pistol Knight did the first scouting trips to minor league parks and had meetings with Braves management trying to entice the Atlanta Braves to put a minor league team in Rome. Just a few years later they did. He and Will often took father/son trips to other stadiums across the US and one of their favorite trips was to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. A high point for his love of the game was when he was 9 years old and living in Royston he spent some one on one time with Ty Cobb watching sporting events. Bill was a student of the game and instilled that love in his children and grandchildren.
Bill was one of those rare people who collected friends wherever he went. Moving from town to town, not only did he make new friends easily, but he remained friends with them his entire life. In fact Bill even made dear friends later in life. Sometimes there was a discussion among them as to who was his “best” friend. He was funny, quick witted and even mischievous sometimes. He loved his friends greatly. He also collected animals. At his home he fed the deer in the front yard, cherished his goldfish, bought food for the squirrels, chipmunks and birds, but he worshiped his dogs, especially Slick and Lady.
Bill never passed a homeless person or heard of a person in need that he did not stop and support that need. He was not one to ever judge another, but he would often ask a job candidate if they understood and could explain the Infield Fly Rule before he deemed them worthy of hire.
Bill began each day by reading a devotional. He studied the Bible from start to finish several times. His favorite devotionals were the Upper Room and Jesus Calling.
When asked some time ago how he wanted to be remembered, Bill said “I think I would like to be remembered as a happy person. I hope my children and grandchildren will say I enjoyed life, was kind and did not get totally wrapped up in worries or work and tried to help them along the way.”
Bill lived life to the fullest. We should all be so lucky.
The family will receive friends at Henderson & Sons Funeral Home, South Chapel, on Tuesday, May 9th from 5PM to 7PM. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 10th at 4PM at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Rome, Georgia with the Reverend John Herring and the Reverend David Boyd officiating.
Honorary pallbearers are: Jack Niedrach, Walter Matthews, Bryant Durham, Wade Monk, Buster Wright, John Graham, Steve Kemp, Larry Hight, and Paul Carter.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: The Rome City Schools Literacy Program, 508 East 2nd Ave., Rome, GA 30161, Floyd Heyman Hospice, 420 East 2nd Avenue, Suite 105, Rome, GA 30161 and St. Mary’s Catholic School, 401 East 7th Street, Rome, GA 30161 or grab a friend and take yourself out to a baseball game soon and remember our dearest friend.
Henderson & Sons Funeral Home, South Chapel, has charge of the arrangements.