Byron W. Mayo
Byron W. Mayo
Byron W. Mayo, a truly charming and revered character in the Sonoma community, a marketing genius, a decorated World War II pilot, and a favorite at the Sonoma petanqué courts, passed away peacefully in bed at home in the early afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. He was 90 years young with an indomitable spirit to the end. His health had been declining since a heart attack in the spring and a series of mild strokes in the summer slowed his pace, but only in his last few days he had been confined to his bed. The day before he died, he was chipper, laughing and making jokes with his nurse and enjoying the company of his beloved wife of 62 years, Mary, who was with him until the end.
Born and raised in Portland, Ore., during the Roaring ’20s and then the Great Depression, Byron grew up tough, smart and ever curious. He would eventually get a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. He married and settled in Marin County, alternately calling Sausalito and Mill Valley home. He and Mary were very involved with the arts community that thrives in Marin, and they both loved exploring the Northern California beaches and wilderness areas along the coast.
Greatly inspired by Charles Lindbergh as a child, when World War II broke out, Byron enlisted in the Navy Pilot Training School. Graduating near the top of his class, he was tapped to swap services and get advanced training as a U.S. Marine pilot. Ultimately 22 pilots formed a new squadron, the Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 242 (VMTB-242).
Byron flew the Grumman Avenger TBF Torpedo Bomber in aggressive action in the skies over Bougainville and Rabaul, through the Marianas and the Iwo Jima campaigns. He was awarded the U.S. Navy Distinguished Flying Cross for “Extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight from 20 March 1945 to 27 March 1945.” His service also awarded him three Air Medals during those campaigns.
Before he retired to Sonoma in 1983, Byron had been a senior vice-president with Foote, Cone & Belding Advertising, mostly at the San Francisco office in an association with Foote, Cone that spanned a 37-year career. Byron took time off from FC&B to take the helm as president of the Sea & Ski Corporation during the ’60s through a period of intense growth that earned him a national award as “Marketing Man of the Year” in 1969, by the American Marketing Association.
Byron is survived by his lovely wife, Mary (86); daughter, Cathye (66), in Santa Fe, N.M.; and son, Byron Robert, (61) in Beverly Hills. Mary and Byron also had two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Mary has moved to Sante Fe to be near Cathye and enjoy the city which Mary and Byron had often visited.
As in any obituary, so much goes unsaid.
To celebrate the life of Byron in more lasting detail than any memorial service or obituary could, his family built a memorial website at www.ByronWMayo.com. It is very rich in content and is filled with photos, documents, Byron’s resumé and magazine articles, family info and photos, a blog viewers can contribute to, info about Byron’s favorite sport, petanqué, and Byron’s Memoires – a fascinating mini-book which can be read online or downloaded to electronic readers. Many people only knew a small window into Byron’s life. His family is taking this opportunity to expand that window for those who want to know Byron more intimately.
Continue reading at www.ByronWMayo.com.