LINDA J. BYRD SELECTED 2019 WOMAN OF THE YEAR
by Women's Division Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Chesapeake
by Christine Knapp
Linda J. Byrd, 2019 Woman of the Year
Linda J. Byrd has been chosen by Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce as Chesapeake's 2019 Outstanding Woman of the Year.
She was nominated by Jennifer Knight, who praised her for "hallmark characteristics such as quiet strength, humility and joy, and her life-long exemplary service to the City of Chesapeake which intricately encompasses her home, community, church, and career."
A 1966 Great Bridge High School graduate, Linda earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from ODU in 1970 and a Master of Science in education in 1974. For 16 years, Linda taught in the Chesapeake Public School system before going into administration.
"I've known since the fourth grade that I wanted to be a teacher," Linda says, smiling. "What I loved most was seeing the students finally grasp a difficult concept, since biology and chemistry aren't the easiest subjects," she says. "The look on their faces when they understood something for the first time- that is what teaching is all about."
In 1996, after serving as the assistant principal at Oscar Smith High School and then as principal of Crestwood Middle School, she became the principal, or "Head Hawk," when Hickory High School first opened its doors.
"We had a lot of work to do, but it was very exciting," Linda recalls. "We were merging two large schools, and the day before that first day of the school year, those students considered themselves either Great Bridge wildcats or Deep Creek hornets. The faculty and staff did such a great job bringing together all 1,501 students, uniting them as Hickory hawks and facilitating a sense of community, belonging, and togetherness."
After 41 years in the Chesapeake Public School system, Linda retired. Eighteen months later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"It was a shock, of course," Linda shares. "We found a wonderful medical team, and we met so many new, amazing people along the way. I knew where I was going if, indeed, I was not meant to stay here. But during my journey, I wanted to be an encouragement to others. I was blessed with amazing children, colleagues, neighbors, friends, and my husband- who never left my side during my battle with cancer."
Linda beat breast cancer and now cherishes every day.
"When you wake up in the morning, you know it's going to be a good day because each day is a gift," she says, happily.
Linda's positive outlook on life, her giving heart, and her selfless attitude translate fully into the work she does with her local church.
"The look on their faces
when they understood something for the first time-
that is what teaching is all about."
- Linda J. Byrd
"My church is a major part of my life," she testifies. "We have been attending Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church for 42 years. I currently serve as director of nurture, outreach, and witness, where I help facilitate different activities and outreach efforts within the church."
Linda's impact on the community and for those in need is tremendous. She coordinates with various groups in the community to raise money or collect toys, coats, and gifts for those in need. She coordinates blood drives at her church with the American Red Cross. She also serves as a liaison with Burfoot House Shelter for Homeless Women and the Chesapeake Area Shelter Team.
"I believe we're put here to serve others and that's what we're supposed to be doing," Linda explains. "This brings great joy to our lives. I like to have a tangible effect on our community."
Linda's dedication to serving others has earned her a long list of honors, including the 1992 Lifetime Membership Award by Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, the 1993 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Educator Award by Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, and the 2005 W. Randolph Nichols Scholarship Foundation Community Service Award. But Linda maintains that her most important and joyous accomplishments remain her family, children, and grandchildren.
Recently, Linda and her husband, Lyman, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Following Linda's example, their daughters Johnna and Amy serve within the Chesapeake Public Schools' system at Greenbrier Middle School and Oscar Smith Middle School. Linda's grandsons, Jonathan and Alexander, are the apples of her eye. Jonathan is a freshman in the STEM Academy at Grassfield High School and Alexander is in the second grade at Great Bridge Primary. Linda's lifetime of dedicated service to the local community continues to live on through the work of her children and grandchildren. Her strength, courage, and outlook on life are indeed an inspiration to everyone she meets. As her beloved son-in-law, Garth, battles stage four brain cancer, she remains hopeful and positive, and says he remains positive as well.
Linda's family and friends say that her wisdom, perseverance, and humble spirit encourage so many around her and why this nomination is so deserving.
"Knowing how many outstanding women there are in Chesapeake, being nominated for and receiving this honor, has been a very humbling experience for me," Linda says. I am truly grateful. I am a very blessed woman to have my family, my career, and my friends."
Linda will be honored at the Outstanding Woman of the Year Celebration Event on February 8, 2020, at the Chesapeake Conference Center.
Alvene Buckley will be honored with the
Women's Division Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce's
Lifetime Membership Award
Lifetime Membership Award
Mrs. Alvene Buckley, who has played a significant role in fostering the growth of Chesapeake's medical system, will also be honored at the Outstanding Woman of the Year Celebration Event on February 8, 2020, at the Chesapeake Conference Center.
Alvene will be this year's recipient of the Women's Division Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Membership Award.
"I was so surprised to receive this award," Alvene says. "I am proud and very appreciative of having served as president of this organization in 2005. It is an honor to be part of an organization that, for more than 40 years, has done so much good for the community."
Oustanding Women of the Year Celebration
To order tickets or for more information,
please contact Angie Smith at
please contact Angie Smith at
Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce - Womens Division