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Giants in Their Realms: Close Encounters of the Celebrity Kind


Annex 1:  Autobiography


 (to hear music while reading, click on video link)


Nuovo Cinema Paradiso - Colonna Sonora--Ennio Morricone 


Kerry J. Byrnes OHS '63


The unexamined life is not worth living.

--Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC)


Flight Log for Kerry Joseph Byrnes (9/11/45 – present)

-- A Short Autobiography


Boeing Byrnes


In the process of writing a memoir, I hit upon the idea of comparing myself to an airplane (“Boeing Byrnes ) that has made many stopovers in many realms around the world. The analogy reminded that airlines are required to maintain a flight log for each plane, in effect, a historical record of a plane’s flights, takeoffs, landings, problems and maintenance.


I became a member of the American Airlines' AAdvantage Frequent Flyer program on May 18, 1986. Since “Boeing Byrnes has flown nearly two million miles just on American Airlines. If we go back to 1955 the log would tach out closer to three million miles flying on various airlines. I became an American AAdvantage One Million Miler (Gold for Life) a few years ago . Now just a little over 500 miles short of qualifying for Two Million Miler (Platinum for Life) status, I doubt that I will reach the rarified Ten Million Miler Level portrayed by George Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, in the film Up in the Air (2009).


At least the employers for whom I worked did not require me to travel around the world firing people as Clooney’s character did in the film. The common denominator of all jobs during my professional career remains today's most critical challenge-- sustainably create jobs, raise incomes, and reduce poverty in the rural sectors of the developing world.


Kerry (“Boeing Byrnes") Building Model Airplanes (circa mid-late 1950s)


When I was a child, I spoke as a child,

I understood as a child, I thought as a child:

but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

--1 Corinthians 13:11 (Webster’s Bible Translation)


I gave up building model airplanes and began flying on real airplanes during my primary school years. I took my first trip on an airplane in the summer of 1955. My father took the whole family to Europe for three months while on a consulting assignment.


The flight time pace picked up dramatically in 1963. My father moved the family to the Philippines, with interim stops in Ames, Iowa; Beaumont, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Tokyo, Japan, before finally touching down in Manila, The Philippines.


I became accustomed to flying to The Philippines and points in between during the years  (1963-68)  that I studied at Michigan State University (MSU). The vast horizons over the Atlantic and the Pacific as well as points south of the border, including Mexico and Colombia, became my world.


At Michigan State  I earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology  (1967) and a Master of Arts (MA) in Communication  (1968). Some years later, I earned a  Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology at Iowa State University (1975).


On completing my doctorate at Iowa Sate in 1975, I joined the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). I worked with IFDC for 9+ years and flew to countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), carrying out various assignments including conducting a major literature review on fertilizer adoption and diffusion research; designing sociological input into fertilizer use studies in Bangladesh and Indonesia; and organizing, delivering, and evaluating fertilizer-related training programs funded by the United Nations Development Programme.


I left IFDC in 1984 to work in Washington, DC  on projects funded by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID). My work focused on development projects in the LAC region. I also made two trips to Pakistan in the summer of 1987, conducting a study of water users associations (for the World Bank) and evaluating a farm forestry project (for USAID).


I logged a lot of miles on the “Boeing Byrnes” airframe, with a few hours down time for maintenance and repairs. I will spare you the detailed maintenance records (hernia surgery, cataract surgery, hip replacement surgery, cardiac surgery, etc.).


Highlights from the Mental Flight Log


1945-1959: I landed first in Dayton, Ohio (September 11, 1945) at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where my father served. My parents, Francis Clair Byrnes and Ethel Belle Overholt, still live in spirit and memory. My mother died in 1984 of emphysema and congestive heart failure (CHF) and my father followed in 1999 of adult primary liver cancer.


My earliest memory is a vague one from the late 1940s of our living room and porch of the small house in which my parents and I lived in a residential neighborhood of Dayton.


In 1948, at age three, the family moved to Worthington, Ohio. My father worked on improving agricultural journalism services at Ohio State University and in support of agricultural research and extension stations around the state of Ohio.


In 1951, at age six, I entered first grade at St. Michael Elementary in Worthington. I attended primary school there through the first few months of third grade when our family moved to East Lansing, Michigan. My father accepted a job as Associate Director of the National Project in Agricultural Communications (NPAC) at Michigan State College that, two years later in 1955, became Michigan State University.


I attended St. Thomas Aquinas primary school from 3rd through 8th grade. During 8th grade  I played on the school's basketball team. Gus Ganakas coached us and the East Lansing High School team. He later became the head coach of the MSU Spartans basketball team. Gus is now the color analyst on Spartan Basketball game radio broadcasts on the Spartan Sports Network.


My brother, Kevin Francis Byrnes, touched down in Columbus, Ohio on November 30, 1950. My parents took us on long road trips by car during the summers of our early years. In 1953 we took a trip by car to Ames, Iowa to visit my father’s parents and then on to Los Angeles and back. Another trip took us across the Mackinac Bridge into Michigan's Upper Peninsula.


In 1955, our flight to Europe marked my first air travel experience. My father engaged in a summer-long consulting assignment in France and Germany. He helped improve agricultural journalism in the European countries. We visited several European countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, England, and Ireland).


Two years later, on December 22, 1957, my sister Kathryn Ann Byrnes hit the runway in Lansing, Michigan. Both brother and sister bemoaned their birthdays getting lost each year in the holiday shuffle – Kevin’s amid Thanksgiving and Kathryn’s too close to Christmas.


Ethel, Kerry, Kathryn, Kevin, and Francis Byrnes (circa 1962)


1959-1963: I attended Okemos High School (OHS) in Okemos, Michigan, a town close to the Michigan State University (MSU) campus in East Lansing.


In athletics, I ran on the track and cross-country teams but never made the basketball team. Otherwise, I did not participate in after hour OHS extracurricular activities. Our home on South Hagadorn Road, across the street from MSU’s farm fields and campus, was actually closer to East Lansing than to Okemos. Unless my mother picked me up after an athletic practice, I usually boarded the school bus after school, went home, and did my homework.


During high school, I listened to a lot of Top 40 radio on WILS (1320 AM) with Erik O on the Radio—Lansing's voice of rock'n'roll.The father of one of the boys in our Boy Scout Troop 293 was the station manager at WILS. He commented during a troop outing that the worst song he had ever heard was Kathy Young's    A Thousand Stars.


I always felt a particular affection for the song. Maybe that WILS station manager secretly tuned into the competing station (WJIM FM’s “music for the middle brow”) that featured so-called “easy listening” artists but not “highbrow” classical music!


Back then, in the day of 50,000 Watt AM clear-channel broadcasting, I also listened, during the evening, to disc jockey Dick Biondi (“the wild I-tralian”) on Chicago’s WLS (890 AM).


Kerry in front of 4528 South Hagadorn Road (circa 1962)

House was torn down a few years ago to put the land up for sale.


Spring-Summer 1963: In mid-March 1963, our family moved to the Philippines. My father accepted a job with the Rockefeller Foundation to work at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, a small town in the province of Laguna, about an hour from Manila.


En route we made interim stops in Ames (to visit my father’s parents, John and Gertrude Byrnes); Beaumont, Texas (to visit my father’s sister, Betty); Los Angeles (to visit family on my mother’s side); and Honolulu. The latter and, in particular, Waikiki, became my favorite travel destination to which I would return five times over the ensuing years.


In the Philippines, we lived in a one-story home at the foot of the hill at the far end of the compound from the swimming pool.


Our Home in the Philippines


In the tropical humidity, by the time we hiked up the hill to the tennis court to shoot hoops or play tennis, we wanted to jump in the swimming pool to cool off.


During one visit to the pool, I tried to do a back flip off the 3-meter spring board and cracked open the skin on the bridge of my nose. Fortunately I didn’t break my nose, but I had two black and blue shiners.


Two shiners and a scraped nose


In early September, I returned to East Lansing to start my freshman year at MSU. I stopped in Ames, Iowa to visit my grandparents and hit the clothing stores to purchase some new threads. Maybe not the best dressed freshman at MSU, but at least I’d have a warm coat for the winter.


Top 40 radio was a whole new experience after being away from the States for half a year between mid-March and early September. The comparable Top 40 playlist of the Manila radio stations ran about six months behind the playlist of the tunes topping the charts on U.S. radio stations in the fall of 1963.


Suddenly I found that folk music (e.g., The Kingston Trio) had left the building and the British Invasion (e.g., The Beatles) had hit the U.S. shore, and the Beach Boys were no longer singing about sun, sand, and surfing but rather about girls, cars, and drag racing.


1963-1967: During my four years as an undergraduate at MSU, I took both required and elective courses, settling on a major in sociology. Of the majors of possible interest to me, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology required the fewest credit hours of courses for a major and provided me with the greatest flexibility to take courses offered by other departments.


In the summer of 1964, I took courses at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (Toluca, Mexico) and lived with a Mexican family. I traveled easily around Mexico by bus and visited towns such as Mexico City, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, San Blas, Veracruz and Acapulco.


That immersion experience in a Spanish-speaking culture allowed me to gain conversational fluency in Spanish after studying this language for three years in high school and second-year Spanish at MSU.


In 1965, I attended the College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines (Los Baños, Laguna) for a semester. The university’s student newspaper published my first, and so far only, op-ed piece titled “The Filipino Student Speaks Up.”


1967-1968: I completed my B.A in the summer of 1967 and immediately traveled to Lubbock, Texas to enter a Peace Corps training program for a community development assignment in Costa Rica. However, I ran afoul of the program’s psychiatrist and psychologist. They booted me out of the training program with an “involuntary de-selection” (translation: I refused to sign any of the papers that would have constituted a voluntary departure).


I caught a ride with one of the Spanish language instructors back to Washington, DC, taking up temporary residence with Uncle John Lamont and Aunt Marie (my mother’s sister) in Arlington, Virginia. I needed to determine my next step with the uncertainty of an induction (draft) notice for military service hanging over me.


In the meantime, and no doubt with back channel assistance of my father, MSU’s Department of Communication (where my father earned his Ph.D. in 1963) invited me to enroll in the department’s M.A. program during the 1967-68 academic year. I earned a M.A. degree, writing my thesis on The Relationship of Dogmatism to Channel Preference and Learning in Classroom Communication.


1968-1969: As I neared completion of my M.A. in 1968, my father sent a telegram suggesting that I contact MSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics to explore a potential employment opportunity with MSU in Colombia. MSU had recently won a contract for a project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to conduct an agricultural marketing study in Colombia’s Cauca Valley. The project became known as the “Proyecto Integrado de Mercadeo Urban-Rural (PIMUR) or, in English, the Integrated Rural-Urban Marketing Project.


I learened of this opportunity from my father. The Rockefeller Foundation reassigned him in early 1968, from IRRI in the Philippines to Bogotá, Colombia, to plan the design of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The Center was to be built near Cali in Colombia’s Cauca Valley. During the summer of 1968, my parents had moved from Bogotá to Cali, the city that coincidentally would be the site for the PIMUR project.


On receiving the telegram, I contacted the MSU Department of Agricultural Economics to explore if the department might be interested in hiring me to work on the PIMUR project. I met with two MSU agricultural economists – Kelly Harrison and Don Larson – who would be working on the PIMUR Project.


Both soon departed for Cali. Kelly suggested that I follow up with him after they were situated, and then we could discuss what might be possible. A few days after arriving in Cali, I made an appointment to meet with Kelly. We reached an agreement. I would work for $100 a month to conduct a marketing information and communication study in coordination with the project’s other studies (e.g., inserting my research questions in the project’s various survey questionnaires).


During this period I met a young lawyer, Sonia Gomez Naranjo. Sonia had just graduated from law school. PIMUR hired her to work on the project’s marketing laws and regulations study. Sonia and I wwere married within a year on August 30, 1969.


1969-1975: With the PIMUR project winding down in the late summer of 1969, I enrolled in a doctoral program in Sociology at Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames, Iowa. In early September of 1969, I traveled from Cali to Ames, Iowa, leaving my new bride in Cali until I could get settled in Ames. A month later, my parents helped make the arrangements for Sonia to travel to Ames.


In the spring of 1970, I received a draft notice, claimed Conscientious Objector (CO) status, dropped out of school, and along with Sonia joined Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). Following an orientation program in Atlanta, Georgia, we were assigned to Miami, Florida.


On September 10, 1970, I appeared before the Selective Service Board (aka “the draft board”) in Lansing, Michigan for an interview in support of my application for CO status. The next morning I phoned the Selective Service to find out the result of the interview and was told the Board had granted me CO status and that I could come to the office later in the day to pick up my new Selective Service (“draft”) card.


Coincidentally that day – September 11 – was my 25th birthday and the draft card with the CO status was the best birthday card I have ever received!


VISTA Volunteers Sonia and Kerry in front of their Miami apartment


I returned to Miami and continued my service with VISTA. I worked as a teacher assistant with young children in a local school's Head Start program, taught English in evening classes for Spanish-speaking Latino and Creole-speaking Haitian residents of Miami's Edison Little River neighborhood, and occasionally helped out in the local community center. During the day, Sonia worked with the same school's social worker who did not speak Spanish, helping as an interpreter when the social worker visited the homes of parents who only spoke Spanish; then, in the evening, Sonia also taught an English class.


In early 1972, after serving nearly a year-and-a-half in VISTA, my Selective Service Board notified me that the Board's earlier order for me to report to VISTA for Alternative Service had been cancelled. Relieved of the legal obligation to perform Alternative Service, I immediately contacted Iowa State to see how quickly I could return to Ames to resume my doctoral studies. My advisor invited me to come back immediately!


From early 1971 through mid-summer of 1975, I continued with my coursework, focusing during the last six months on conducting the research for and writing my doctoral dissertation.


Our son, Shannon Alexander, arrived August 28, 1974. I spent many of the nights preceding and after his birth working on my dissertation into the early hours of the morning. Six months to the day after I started conducting the research for the dissertation, I successfully defended it and was welcomed as ISU’s newest Ph.D. in Sociology. The dissertation, titled A Construct of Social Action for Small Farmer Agricultural Development, analyzed The Rockefeller Foundation-funded Puebla Project in Mexico in the context of the Social Action Model earlier developed by ISU sociologists George Beal and Joe Bohlen. This Social Action Model had been a staple in the training programs that my father had assisted in developing at Michigan State during the 1950s under the National Project in Agricultural Communications (NPAC).


During my last year at Iowa State, I learned that the Director General of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), located in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, planned to visit the campus on a recruiting trip to interview candidates for a position as Sociologist at IFDC.


Shortly after the interview, IFDC offered me the job. Sonia and Shannon spent the summer of 1975 in Colombia, while I packed up our belongings, arranged for their onward shipment to Alabama, and drove from Ames, Iowa to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to report for my first post-Ph.D. job.


Kerry J. Byrnes in His Office at IFDC (1975-84)


1975-1984: At IFDC, I initially worked in the Agro-Economic Division, conducting a major review of the research literature on farmer adoption of fertilizer technology. I also collaborated with IFDC scientists designing fertilizer use studies in Asia (Indonesia and Bangladesh).


In 1979, I transferred to the Outreach Division in support of a United Nations Development Programme-funded project to design, implement, and evaluate IFDC’s fertilizer training programs. Over my 9+ years with IFDC, I carried out short-term assignments in Africa (Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Upper Volta); Asia (Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand); and Latin America and the Caribbean (Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Mexico).


In early 1984, my mother (Ethel) passed away and, disappointed by opportunities at IFDC (including not having been able to line up an overseas posting), I began looking for a new job, leading to an invitation by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to come to Washington, DC for an interview.


The interview went well. USAID offered me the job and my family packed up our belongings in Florence, Alabama and, in late October of 1984, moved to Reston, Virginia. By this time my father was working with the International Agricultural Development Service (IADS) located in Rosslyn, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. We moved into my father's townhouse until we could sell our house in Alabama and buy a home in Reston. As it turned out, we purchased a townhouse on the 7th hole of the Reston Golf Course, a few stone throws away from my father’s townhouse on the 18th hole.


During the summers, our son Shannon had a lucrative business running a lemonade stand on the edge of the golf course until he discovered there was a greater demand for beer than lemonade (and, no, we told him he couldn’t sell beer). Finally, the golf course’s management told him that he was not allowed to hawk lemonade and Shannon had to shut down his illegal lemonade still.


1984-1989 – My initial job in Washington, DC was as an employee with the then so-called “Graduate School-USDA” (now “Graduate School USA”) under a contract with USAID and physically located in Rosslyn, Virginia in USAID’s Office of Rural and Institutional Development in the Bureau for Science and Technology. Coincidentally, my office in USAID was in the building adjacent to the building where my father worked with IADS. During this period, I developed a concept paper and a proposed design for a research project on the untapped role of producer organizations in agricultural and rural development.


Towards the end of my first year this job came to a screeching halt. It came to light that USAID’s contract with the Graduate School-USDA -- a private sector-based organization that did not receive appropriated funds from the U.S. Congress and thus was not a USG agency -- was not legal because it had been sole-sourced (not competitively let). The fallout was that USAID terminated the contract and I and several colleagues working with USAID under that contract were released.


I quickly became a freelance consultant, over the next two years, carrying out various assignments with the Academy for Educational Development (AED), Agricultural Cooperative Development International (ACDI), Associates in Rural Development (ARD), Chemonics International, Management Training and Development Institute (MTDI), Ronco Consulting, Winrock International, and the World Bank.


With the exception of two assignments in Pakistan and several U.S.-based consulting gigs (proposal writing and training courses), all my assignments were conducted in Spanish-speaking countries (Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Peru). Around 1987, I returned to a full-time job with USAID’s Center for Development Information and Evaluation (CDIE), initially under a contract with Price Williams & Associates, and subsequently with Labat-Anderson.


Over this four-year period, I am proud of three work assignments:


  • As consultant to the World Bank I conducted a field-based study in Pakistan that the Bank published under the title Water Users Associations in World Bank-assisted Irrigation Projects in Pakistan;


  • As Senior Social Science Analyst in CDIE, A Review of A.I.D. Experience with Farming Systems Research and Extension Projects; and


  • As a consultant to MTDI, developing and conducting a Spanish version of the Management Communication for Development seminar that my father and Michigan State colleagues had originally developed under the NPAC project in the 1950s.


November 1989-September 22, 2012 – In November 1989, I resigned my position with CDIE to take a job with Chemonics International on the USAID-funded Latin America and Caribbean Agriculture and Rural Development Technical Services Project (LAC TECH).


I served from 1989-1993 as the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Advisor, providing analysis, strategy development, and evaluation services to USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) and technical support to USAID Missions throughout the LAC region.


In mid-1993, USAID moved my position to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Over the next 19+ years, I worked for USDA’s Office of International Cooperation and Development (OICD) or, as currently known, the Office of Capacity Building and Development (OCBD). My initial role was serving as Institutional Development Advisor. I developed an Organizational Management for Sustainability (OMS) Workshop that colleagues and I conducted for NGOs in the LAC region.


In 1995, USDA in consultation with USAID redefined my position as Economic Integration and Free Trade Advisor in the Office of Regional Sustainable Development. I assisted USAID’s LAC Bureau and Missions in designing trade capacity building programs to help the LAC region’s smaller economies and developing countries prepare for participating in and benefiting from free trade agreements with the United States.


Around 2008, USDA in consultation with USAID redefined my position as Senior Program Specialist, focusing on two major areas:


  • Provide technical support to the design and implementation of the U.S. Government's food security program (Feed the Future) in support of the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative; and


  • In support of USAID's Local Capacity Development initiative, revitalize the Organizationl Management for Sustainability (OMS) workshop. In early 2012 I traveled twice to Asunción, Paraguay to plan and conduct this workshop for Paraguayan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) being assisted under a USAID/Paraguay-funded democracy project.


September 23, 2012 – September 30, 2014 – I worked 19+ years (1993-2012) as a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service employee under a Participating Agency Services Agreement (PASA) between USAID and USDA. On 9/23/12, USAID transitioned my position in the LAC Bureau’s Office of Regional Sustainable Development (LAC/RSD) to a new employment category.


I became a USAID Foreign Service Limited (FSL) employee with the new title of Agriculture Development Officer (or Senior Agricultural Advisor). In this role, I continued to represent the LAC Bureau and USAID field Missions in LAC countries in design, implementation, and evaluation of the Feed the Future program.


During this period, I also provided leadership to the design of:


  • A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) project to identify and address constraints to competition in food security-related markets in Central America;


  • An assessment of constraints to the growth of the horticulture sector in Central America, including research on drip irrigation of horticultural crops; and


  • An Inter-Agency Agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to design and carry out a program of regional workshops and country-specific “train-the-trainer” courses on food safety to help LAC countries prepare for implementation of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act.


Work-related Travel to the Developing World - Since the late 1960s, “Boeing Byrnes carried out over 170 short-term assignments in 37 countries, racking up nearly 2 million miles on American Airlines plus untold earlier miles on overseas and domestic airlines. While many of those domestic airlines – Braniff, Capitol, Republic, Eastern, and Pan Am – are now defunct, "Boeing Byrnes continued to rack up the miles.


Family – After my wife Sonia, son Shannon, and I moved to Virginia in 1984, Sonia earned a teacher’s certificate from George Mason University and began teaching Spanish in local high schools.


On July 1, 2011, she retired after 20+ years of teaching. During retirement her passion has been travel to distant locales, most recently visiting Istanbul, Barcelona, Dubai, and her home city of Cali, Columbia.


Our son, Shannon, born in Ames, Iowa, August 28, 1974, graduated from Virginia Tech. In 2004, he completed a Masters at Marymount University and married Jeannine Long.


Shannon initially taught 6th grade math and science in a local primary school but decided he liked teaching younger children and switched to teaching 3rd grade until the 2015-16 academic year when the school’s administration reassigned him to teaching 6th grade.


During basketball season, which runs nearly all year long, Shannon coaches basketball in Reston at his former high school (South Lakes High School), rising over several seasons from assistant freshman coach to freshman coach to junior varsity coach to, effective with the 2014-15 basketball season, assistant varsity coach.


Shannon’s first and only child, Braden Ezequiel, was born September 17, 2008. For a seven-year-old, Braden is an amazing basketball player, already having a skill set far surpassing what his grandfather had at the same age.


My mother, Ethel Belle Overholt Byrnes, an ISU graduate (B.S. in Home Economics, 1938), died in Virginia in early 1984 of a weakened heart and emphysema. After my mother’s passing, my father, Francis C. Byrnes (B.S. in Agricultural Journalism, Iowa State University, 1938; and Ph.D. in Communication, Michigan State University, 1963), continued working with Winrock International or other clients as a consultant for 15 years, until June 1999, when he took ill, dying of adult primary liver cancer just one month later, a few days short of his 82nd birthday.


My father always told me his motto was, "We must never quit trying."

He never did until the day he died and neither will I.


Just eight months earlier (in October 1998), I accompanied my father on a trip back to Ames, Iowa, where Iowa State University awarded him its second highest honor – the Henry A. Wallace Award for his Outstanding Contribution to International Agriculture in Writing, Teaching, Research and Leadership.


Had my father and mother, surely now in heaven, still been alive at the time I retired from USAID, they would have been proud that the Agency honored their firstborn son with its second highest award, the Administrator's Outstanding Career Achievement Award for a career marked by exemplary contributions in the fields of agricultural development and trade capacity building in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Passions – When not “on the road,” spare time beyond family and home “moanership” is dedicated to film music, initially collecting film soundtrack records and eventually converting this passion into a sideline business (Kerry’$ Kollectible$), selling records on ebay.com (tracer*007) and writing about film music, which you can sample by reading “Next Stop... Willoughby: Film Music Voyages in The Soundtrack Zone.


On the sports front, I follow MSU Spartan football and basketball and Washington Redskins football. During the NFL season, the Redskins-Cowboy rivalry is alive and well in Reston. Both my son Shannon and grandson Braden are avid Dallas fans. We argue over who's the better quarterback -- The Cowboys' Tony Romo or the Redskins' - and former MSU Spartan - quarterback Kirk Cousins. No Contest!


In the fall of 2012, I started working on a memoir, a sort of reverse autobiography, of which this short autobiography is a part, writing about people that I've seen, met, studied under, and/or worked with who had a large or even small impact on my personal life and/or professional career. This OHS Alumni website will include a number of the memoir's vignettes, the first to appear being the vignette I wrote about one of my teachers, Dale Brubaker, who taught economics, history, and American Government at OHS in the early 1960s.


Retirement – I set September 30, 2014 as the date that I would retire, and on that date pulled “Boeing Byrnes out of service, at least out of full-time employment. I redeployed the airframe to a healthy living program, post-retirement hobby pursuits, and travel to Cali, Colombia (where Sonia’s family lives) and other destinations which to date have included Waikiki, Hawaii; Cali, Colombia (twice); Istanbul Turkey; and Barcelona, Spain, with Cancún. Mexico next up for August 2016.


My decision to retire at the end of September 2014, a year earlier than previously planned, was driven, in part, by my difficult recovery from the open-heart surgery I underwent on July 5, 2013. But the decision was hastened by my employer’s rapidly declining interest in agriculture and rural development in the LAC region, with USAID increasingly focusing more and more on Africa than the LAC region.


In January of 2016, Sonia and I downsized from the two-story house that we lived in for 22+ years to a three-bedroom condo in Reston Town Center, thus freeing us from the risk that one might have to shovel snow on any given winter day. Plus, just arrange for someone to come in weekly to water the plants, then lock the door, and take off on another mini-vacation to the next tropical - or temperate - port of call.


The graph below presents a biographical timeline overview of the life and professional career of “Boeing Byrnes up through retirement on 9/30/14.



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