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Lee Bentley Byrd


Last updated 3/14/2019 at 7:36pm

Lee Bentley Byrd bid farewell to a long and happy life Feb. 22, 2019, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, May 15, 1930. His predeceased parents were Lindsey and Juanita Fortner Byrd of Arkansas.

Lee grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Henderson State College. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois and an Master of Business Administration at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Lee was a member of the United States Air Force for 22 years, retiring from his last post at the Pentagon in 1973 as a colonel. During his service, he received multiple decorations, including the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Following his retirement, Lee began a long career in research and development in the aerospace industry in California and Virginia, culminating with 14 years at Magnavox Electronics.

Never one to take it easy, Lee began a third career, in politics, in Rancho Palos Verdes. He served on the planning commission and city council and as the city’s mayor in the 1990s.

Much of Lee’s later years were spent in Fallbrook, where he continued to follow local and national politics and enjoyed restoring antique scales. Along with his wife Elaine, Lee was known to be a kind and generous neighbor, serving on numerous neighborhood associations and sharing lively conversation over a glass of merlot. He leaves behind friends, colleagues and admirers in each of the many posts and residences he took up over his lifetime.

He is survived by his best friend, life’s partner and love of his life, wife of 67 years Helen Elaine Byrd; his loving children, Gary Byrd and his wife Aileen, Susan Pfingst and her husband Craig McCurdy, Leslie Saeta and her husband Dave, Rick Byrd and his wife Shellie and Jeni Reedy and her husband Tom; 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Lee’s family will receive visitors at a celebration of life reception Saturday, March 16, from 1-3 p.m. at South Hills Country Club, 2655 Citrus Street, in West Covina. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Lee’s name to his favorite charity, the Wounded Warrior Project, at


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