Byrd H. Saville, Jr.
Byrd H. Saville, Jr., age 92, passed away peacefully on Christmas Day, 2023. He was predeceased by his wife of nearly 67 years, Judith Ann Saville, and his younger brother, Walter Saville.
Byrd was born in Atlanta, GA. on November 21, 1931. Forced to leave home permanently at age nine, he grew up in Dahlonega, GA, under the care of Hayley E. Montague, a retired director of the Georgia State YMCA. Byrd served as President of the school student body during his junior year of high school and excelled at basketball, baseball, and English literature. Byrd entered the Navy at age 17, serving in the Pacific during the Korean War. He trained as a radar operator and served aboard the USS Requin, the Navy’s first radar picket submarine.
Byrd left the Navy after meeting Judith Ann Bloomgren to marry in April 1953. Judy and Byrd lived after that on the Peninsula, first on Back Creek in Hampton, then for nearly 60 years in the Hidenwood section of Newport News. Byrd began his career with GMAC but quickly moved to Suttle Motor Corporation, where he met his longtime mentor and friend, George Suttle. In 1961, Byrd entered the real estate industry, joining Harrison & Lear Realtors, where he remained active for 50 years. At Harrison & Lear, Byrd initially sold single-family homes but soon moved into commercial brokerage, specializing in complex land assemblage for national retailers and local investors. He was also a general partner in various Harrison & Lear-sponsored residential and commercial development projects. Byrd was active in the community, serving a variety of organizations, including the United Way, where he Chaired the first annual campaign on the Peninsula to achieve $1 million in contributions. He was also a member and later Chair of the Regional Redevelopment & House Authority, a member of the Virginia Peninsula Economic Development Council, and a member of the Board of Riverside Hospital System’s rehabilitation operating unit and later Riverside Hospital System. He was also a Board member of Newport News Saving Bank, where he fought for change during the Savings and loan crisis. Byrd generously contributed time and money to supporting his favorite local elected representatives.
Byrd was a competitive sportsman throughout his life. In the 1970s, he was widely recognized as a leading sailboat racer on the lower Chesapeake Bay and was the inaugural winner of the Blackbeard Trophy awarded by Hampton Yacht Club. He won or placed in dozens of one-design regattas and was sought after by owners to skipper larger racing yachts. Byrd snow skied for forty years on mountains throughout the American West and regularly participated in amateur NASCAR racing events, repairing and tuning his own equipment. At age 50, Byrd took up golf in earnest, eventually achieving a single-digit handicap quickly and playing and winning his flight in tournaments throughout the year. Finally, at age 60, Byrd became an accomplished sailplane pilot, flying his own high-performance glider until he was nearly 80. He also spent time hunting and fishing, even reloading his own shotgun shells.
Byrd belonged to Warwick Yacht Club, Hampton Yacht Club, and James River Country Club, where he encouraged (some say harassed) the Greens Committee to improve playing conditions. He was also a longtime member of Newport News Rotary, the Hampton Roads German Club, and multiple bible study groups. In more recent times, Byrd became an active member of the United States Submarine Veterans Association, promoting the national visibility of his old boat, the Requin, on display at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Faith was central in Byrd’s life, and he was a member of the Hidenwood Presbyterian and later the First Presbyterian Church. The reverend Walter Kennedy was a force in Byrd’s life, and he lived in the belief of Walter’s Irish benediction:
May the Light of God shine through you, and the Grace of God renew you
May the Love of God pursue you today, tomorrow, and all your life’s tomorrows till time shall be no more.
Known to many as a recounter of legendary proportions, Byrd took full advantage of his opportunity in life despite little formal education or professional training. He is survived by his only child, B. Hagen Saville, daughter-in-law Eve M. Saville, and three granddaughters, Eva, age 23, and twins, Charlotte and Leigh, age 20.
Although the family will celebrate his life privately, donations in Byrd’s name can be made to Tidewater Soaring Society, 14212 Iron Mine Springs Rd., Windsor, Va. 23487.
The family would like to thank the many caregivers at the Huntington assisted living and Newport skilled nursing facilities for their tireless service in the final year of Byrd’s life.