Dr. and Mrs. Roger Byrd named Grand Marshalls

Dr. and Mrs. Roger Byrd named Grand Marshalls of the 2016 Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade

During his 30 plus years of involvement with the Rochester Rotary, Roger Byrd has helped build many floats for the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade. Little did he know that one day he and his wife Mary Jo would lead the Parade down Main Street as its Grand Marshalls. “We were very surprised, we never expected to be asked,” Mary Jo said in reaction to the news. 

Dr. and Mrs. Byrd have lived in the Rochester area since 1974, when they moved from Macomb County. Dr. Byrd, a graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, opened the Rochester Dermatology Clinic PC in 1973 and has been actively involved in his specialty’s many professional organizations. He served as the national president of The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology in 1982. An active member of the Rochester Rotary, Roger has been part of an international organization whose members use their talents, expertise and leadership in humanitarian service.

Dr. and Mrs. Roger Byrd named Grand Marshalls of the 2016 Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade

Dr. and Mrs. Roger Byrd named Grand Marshalls of the 2016 Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade

Dr. Byrd says he has been happy to be his wife’s assistant in her many community and charity endeavors. While raising four children, Mary Jo was active in their education, spending volunteer time at Kingsbury School in Oxford, Marian High School and Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills. Mary Jo played an active role in the children’s extracurricular activities as well.  She worked with the Central US Ski Association at a time when parents not only drove the children to events but spent time on the hills moving gates.

She volunteered in the religious educations department at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Rochester, teaching Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes. Mary Jo was also active at the Paint Creek Center for the Arts as its famous event, Arts and Apples, got off the ground. She served as president of the Meadow Brook Theatre Guild promoting the theater to the community.

Mary Jo is not a stranger to community recognition. In 2012, she received the Greater Rochester Sunrise Pinnacle Award for outstanding community service. She has used her leadership skills for the benefit of Crittenton Hospital Medical Center, chairing its prestigious Gourmet Gala and other events.

But nearest to her heart are the programs of The Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan, where she served as president 2002 – 2003. Mary Jo proudly explains the work of the Assistance League in providing Assault Survivor Kits to victims of abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. Since 1995, the Assistance League has delivered 13,997 personal kits including clothing and toiletries to women whose own clothing was destroyed by their perpetrator or retained by police. The Assistance League raises funds through its Resale Connection Shop on Main Street in Rochester and through its successful Mistletoe Marketplace Fundraiser. Since 1995, over 29,000 area children have been the beneficiaries of Operation School Bell. The Assistance League provides new clothing and supplies in a store like setting, allowing children to choose their own items. Mary Jo explained that choosing their own clothing has improved the children’s self esteem and school attendance.

Mrs. Byrd was also one of the founding members of the Women’s Fund. Established in 2000 with the vision of helping women within our community, the Fund’s grants assist women in dire need. The Women’s Fund works with local non-profits to empower women and their children to strengthen their lives through focused programs and academic scholarships.

The Byrds will be joined in the parade by their four children, Scott, Julie, Michael, David and their six grandchildren.  Julie and David have joined their father in his dermatology practice. Mary Jo enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, babysitting as needed, spending special birthday time with each, and even rescuing her oldest grandchild when she ran out of gas on the way to school.

Dr. Byrd is not surprised that his wife has been recognized for her years of community service and repeats that he is very pleased to be her assistant again.

The 2016 Parade will be held on Sunday, December 4, at 2:00 p.m., and includes dignitaries, bands, children’s group, community organizations and local businesses.

The Mission of the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce is to provide leadership by advancing business development in partnership with civic, cultural and educational interests for the benefit of Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township.  Founded in 1955, the RRCC is the principal voice of the Rochester business community, focused on fostering a favorable climate and promoting orderly and progressive development for this region.

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