May 22, 2018
Bill Byrne, MassWildlife Photographer/Naturalist for Four Decades
PETERSHAM- William C. (“Bill”) Byrne, Jr., of Petersham, MA, passed away unexpectedly on May 13th, doing what he loves: capturing stunning images of wildlife species in their natural habits. His prolific photography graced covers of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) magazine as well of countless articles, publications and agency presentations.
Longtime MassWildlife friend/colleague Bill Davis: “MassWildlife and the greater Massachusetts conservation community lost a great friend and advocate...Bill will be missed but his presence will be felt for years to come through his enduring photography and a special place in our hearts.” His work touched thousands.
Bill’s photo assignments for MassWildlife covered the Commonwealth, from tiny endangered Puritan tiger beetles along the Connecticut River, bald eagle restoration efforts at the Quabbin Reservoir and wild turkey reintroductions in the Berkshires. He documented the secret lives of bobcats, and stalked nesting plovers and terns on Cape Cod and offshore islands.
Curious about wildlife and wildlife behavior from his youth as an explorer scout, Bill was an accomplished biologist, birder, tracker and observer, with a keen eye and strong attention to detail. Working day and night to get the shots he needed, he could be found in ground, tree or water blinds, in boats and trucks. He could also be waist deep in swamp water, perched on a bridge or building with falcon nests or snowshoeing into the remote and wild corner of Massachusetts.
Bill, predeceased by his beloved parents, William C. (Bill) Byrne and Dorothy Gerety Byrne, was born in Boca Raton, Florida, August 25, 1945. Bill graduated from LaSalle Academy in Providence, RI, and studied at the University of Maine in Orono, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Management. During his summers, he worked with wildlife biologists in Vermont, Labrador and the sub-Arctic tundra of Hudson Bay. Before joining MassWildlife, he served two years in Vietnam as an Army sergeant teaching infantrymen rapid rope descent from Huey helicopters to landing zones 100’ below. Bill received several awards for his service.
Bill’s photography has also been published by Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, Down East, Maine Fish & Wildlife, Natural History, and Sports Afield. He was also an avid bow & arrow deer and turkey hunter.
Bill is survived by two sons Charlie Byrne, Hingham (spouse Ellen, children Chandler and Mitchell) and Shawn Byrne, Wellesley (spouse Sarah, children Keira, Colin, Aidan);
brother, Brian Byrne, Lincoln ( Julie); and sisters D.M. Thérèse (Terry) Byrne, Boston and Sharon Byrne Kishida, Rockport (spouse Earl, sons Perry and Christian).
A Funeral Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m on Thursday, May 31st, at Our Lady of Immaculate Church, 192 School Street, Athol, MA 01331.
Following Mass, a reception will be held at Hartman’s Herb Farm, 1026 Old Dana Rd, Barre, MA 01005.
In lieu of flowers, The Trustees of Reservations, 200 High Street, Boston, MA 02110 Attn: Development or via www.thetrustees.org. or MassWildlife Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, 1 Rabbit Road, Westborough, MA 01581. https://www.mass.gov/orgs/masswildlifes-natural-heritage-endangered-species-program.
Witty’s Funeral Home, 158 South Main Street, Orange, is directing the arrangements.
You may offer your sympathy online at www.wittyfuneralhome.com