After Don Byer’s death in 1958, Ruth spent the next few weeks concentrating on caring for five-year-old Janet. Although Ruth received help and kind words from her neighbors and friends she still felt alone. Most of her family had passed leaving her with only a sister and brother along with a few cousins. Her in-laws lived near Philadelphia.

Don -Byers-337th-Infantry-parentsTwo weeks after Don’s death, his father, George, passed from cancer. A month later, Adela Byers’ mother died. She was devastated and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She couldn’t fathom how she would care for the family home and pay bills let alone live without the most important people in her life. Adela stayed in Philadelphia for a year to stay close to her only living relative, her brother Harry. But in 1960, she moved to Wilkes-Barre; to an upstairs apartment above her only grandchild and daughter-in-law.

Although Ruth struggled to raise her daughter and care for her elderly mother-in-law she did it with grace. By living through the Great Depression, Ruth learned how to be humble and modest and only ask for help when it was absolutely necessary.

It took several years for Adela to overcome the deep depression following her family’s deaths. It took the births of her great-grandchildren, James and Michael, to lift her spirits: she had two little boys to love now. She read them the books, cooked pudding, and told them stories about the grandfather they never met. Adela did so until she passed at 103-years-old on July 19, 1993.

byers-my-american-odyssey-337th-infantry-regiment-bookRuth concentrated on raising Janet and became very involved in church activities like the choir, fundraisers, and its girl scout troop. She socialized going to dinners and trips with friends, but never sought the company of a man. She had been married twice: once divorced and once widowed; at 46-years-old she couldn’t bare the thought of losing another husband. Ruth remained a widow until she finally joined Don on May 22, 2016.

Janet Byers attended college and worked as a secretary in the human services field until retirement. She has few memories of her father since she was 5-years-old when he passed. John Wayne became a surrogate parent teaching her about pride and integrity as she watched The Duke battle villains in western movies. Janet has stayed in contact with her namesake, Jan Lewis Miller, trading letters and telephone calls hoping to reunite in the near future.