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Boonsboro library gets boost

January 16, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

People told a young David Byrd of Boonsboro he never would amount to anything, but they were wrong, Byrd's brother-in-law said Thursday.

A $325,982 donation from the David and Julia Byrd Foundation proves Byrd, who died in 2000, did amount to something and the proposed library will benefit financially as a result, said Ralph Jamison, Byrd's brother-in-law.

The donation to Friends for a New Boonsboro Library, to help pay for a new branch library building, will help the community for generations to come, Jamison said Thursday during a reception at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.

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The Washington County Commissioners, the Boonsboro Town Council and the library support a plan to build a 10,000-square-foot Boonsboro branch building on town-owned property on Potomac Street, near Shafer Park.

Byrd's donation, announced Thursday, increased the amount of total pledges for the project from about $525,000 to $848,754, according to Friends documents.

The new building, which is to replace a smaller library building in the town, is expected to cost about $1.2 million.

At Thursday's reception, Jamison reflected on David Byrd and his wife, Julia. Jamison, who is married to Julia's sister, said he is a representative of the foundation.

David Byrd died in February 2000 and Julia Byrd died in August 1984, Jamison said.

David Byrd did not attend school beyond about the sixth grade because his mother died and he had to get a job, Jamison said.

Byrd often talked about his difficult childhood and said people back then told him he never wouold amount to anything, Jamison said.

Byrd opened the Red Byrd Restaurant in about 1959 and ran it until about 1971, Jamison said.

Jamison said Byrd told him he chose the name for the restaurant because he was financially in the red at that time.

Byrd sold the restaurant in 1971 and bought a 50-acre farm in the area, Jamison said.

During the reception, Boonsboro Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman recalled that the Byrds never objected when teenagers, including Kauffman, stayed at the restaurant for hours after school football games, eating cheeseburgers and fries.

Attorney William Wantz, who represents both the town and the foundation, said he suggested the donation to Jamison and the idea was an instant hit.

In addition to fitting perfectly with Byrd's dreams, Jamison said he can see the proposed library branch site from his house and will be able to watch it being built and used.

Library Director Mary Baykan said the library's meeting room and children's story room probably will be named for the Byrds.

Wantz had his own suggestion: Put a red bird on a weather vane on top of the library. People will see it, ask about it and learn about David Byrd and the Red Byrd, he said.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said he has been impressed with the pledges made toward the library project, which include $125,505 from the Nora Roberts Foundation and $200,000 from the county.

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