Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Philly Mourns Loss of an Adopted Son

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Philly Mourns Loss of an Adopted Son

Article excerpt

While cautioning that Philadelphia Daily News Senior Editor W. Russell G. Byers would never want his murder to become a signal for residents to abandon hope for Philadelphia, an editorial in the paper following his demise Dec. 4 captured the effect of his loss on an entire city:

"A man who used his wealth and influence to make people's lives in Philadelphia better is killed by some lowlife thug in the city's safest-seeming community, Chestnut Hill. Who wouldn't feel rage and despair? We certainly do."

Byers, 59, and his wife of 26 years, Laurada Beacham Byers, were returning from a dinner party when they stopped to buy four pints of Hagen-Dazs ice cream at a convenience store a few blocks from their home.

A man came "out of the shadows," Laurada Byers said later, and ordered her husband to hand over his valuables. Byers resisted, attempting to lead the robber away from her, and the man plunged a knife into his heart - which, by all accounts, was more than large enough to power his imposing, silver-haired frame as well as his civic impulses. Byers died before his wife could reach his side.

Byers was born into fortunate circumstances in Pittsburgh. His great- grandfather founded the A.M. Byers Steel company. The "G." in his name stood for Grace, and came from his mother, a member of the W.R. Grace family, founders of the global chemical and construction products firm.

A graduate of Yale University, Byers worked for decades in government service - as an aide to U. …

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