March 13, 2021, 68, Goldsboro –
Donnie Ray Byrd died on March 13, 2021 at Wayne UNC Health Care at the age of 68. Following a brief, but courageous, battle with cancer, he passed away peacefully in the arms of his loving wife, Becky, and surrounded by his family.
Donnie was born and raised in Dunn, North Carolina, son to Percy Ward Byrd and Myrtha Beasley Byrd. As a young teenager, his family relocated to Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he developed a knack for building late 1960’s muscle cars. While he initially used a part-time job with a local grocery store to fuel his passion for cars, he quickly learned how to leverage a tireless work ethic into a successful career in management. Donnie retired from Colonial Stores after 21 years with the company. In 1988, he was presented with an opportunity to combine his automotive and retail experience at a company that would become near and dear to his heart. Over the next 30 years, he would master the art of using enthusiasm, excitement, and pride to drive teams of AutoZoners to record setting performance levels. He retired from AutoZone in 2019 to tinker on his classic car collection and spend time with his family.
Donnie married his high school sweetheart on August 2, 1975, establishing the cornerstone of his greatest achievement and legacy – his family. A devoted husband, father, and “Granddaddy,” everything he worked for in life was merely a means to shower his wife with love, provide opportunities for his children, and teach them the values they would need to be successful and perpetuate his legacy for generations to come. To celebrate his success in this endeavor, he never passed up an opportunity to spoil his grandchildren. Above all else, Donnie believed that raising his family was his way to leave the world a better place than when he entered it, and he remained committed to that mission until his very last day.
Donnie is survived by his wife of 45 years, Becky Powell Byrd; daughter Jennifer Byrd Pfaadt and son-in-law Donald Joseph “D.J.” Pfaadt, Jr., of Atlanta, Georgia; son David Ryan Byrd and daughter-in-law Emily Southerland Byrd of Goldsboro, North Carolina; grandchildren Donald Joseph “Tripp” Pfaadt III, Edward Wellons “Wells” Pfaadt, Patrick “Ward” Pfaadt and Beatrice Wellons Byrd. He is also survived by his mother-in-law Jo Ann Wellons, sister-in-law Belinda “Susie” Nicely, brother-in-law William Lee Wellons and wife Diane, and many nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sisters, Edna Byrd Norris and Geraldine Byrd Hinson; brother ,W.J. Byrd; and father-in-law William Freeman Wellons.
A graveside service and visitation will be held at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. with Dr. Glenn F. Phillips, Jr., officiating. Attendees are asked to wear a face covering and practice social distancing.
Prior to the graveside service the family will have a private celebration of Donnie’s life at First Baptist Church.
The family expresses heartfelt appreciation to many special friends for their prayers and support during his illness.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, 125 S. John Street, Goldsboro, NC 27530, Prayer Shawl Ministry or Helping Hands Ministry.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.seymourfuneralhome.com.