Born in Buhl, Idaho, Byron moved to Texas at age five and grew up in Lubbock, Texas during the Great Depression era of the 1930s. Working in the family restaurant from age 10 through high school years, Byron participated in sports and extra-curricular activities by working evening and weekend shifts.
He attended the University of Texas, Kilgore College, and numerous Navy schools and special programs throughout his Naval career. During World War II he served as a naval aviator, first as an instrument flight instructor for fighter pilots, and later in multi-engine transports in the Western Pacific. After WWII,
Byron returned to civilian life as a reservist until recalled by the Navy for action in the Korean War where he flew from the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier on anti-submarine warfare missions. After the Korean War, he transferred from the reserve to regular Navy and became a Navy Public Affairs Officer. Assignments included news writing, newspaper, Armed Forces Radio & TV management, public and community relations, and media adviser to various admirals. Near the end of the Vietnam War with 27 years of total service, Byron retired from the Navy.
|Varner family arriving for tour of duty, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 1963.|
Civilian career included sales, public relations, real estate development, and writing. Since 1988, Byron has served as president of a national association of military personnel, making frequent personal contacts with congressional and government leaders. He wrote and published the association's news magazine until converting it from a print format to the KeepingApace Web site in 1999.
|Admiral Bulkeley congratulates Byron on promotion to Commander, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.|
Byron was active as a volunteer in many civic affairs at Lakeway, Texas for over 25 years. He aided in establishing several of its community organizations and served on various boards, and was honored as Lakeway's Outstanding Citizen in 1993. Other accomplishments include originating the Lakeway Historical Society, Inc., and coordinating its activites for 10 years, including designing, fundraising, and coordinating construction of its large granite Spirit of Freedom Memorial honoring Lakeway residents who served in America's wars. In 1998, the Historical Society added further honors by naming its entity The Byron D. Varner History Center.
He authored several books and numerous articles for newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Byron traveled extensively, visiting several foreign countries and all of the United States except Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota.
In 1997, Byron moved from Lakeway, Texas, to The Woodlands, Texas where he volunteered to organize and coordinate a senior program for The Interfaith, and coordinated fundraising for the Houston Maritime Museum. Byron retired in Sarasota, Florida in 2002 with wife Bonnie, whom he married the same day he got his Navy commission on July 22, 1944. They have three children and five grandchildren.
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Private Memorial Service