|Birth: ||1949, USA|
|Death: ||Oct. 6, 2012|
Brenda Byers, of Canterbury, CT and Longwood, FL, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her loving family, on Saturday, October 6, 2012, after a courageous year long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Brenda was the daughter of the late Elwood and Gladys (Ebert) Byles and grew up in the Central Village area, graduating from Plainfield High School in 1958. She was a former physical education and drama major, attending the University of Connecticut and the Leland Powers School of Radio, Television and Theatre in Boston, where she received her degree in 1961.
Brenda started singing professionally at the age of thirteen and was also very active in 4-H, achieving recognition in the late 50s and early 60s as the national winner in recreation, leadership and citizenship and was then selected in 1962 and 1963 as the entertainment director for the annual 4-H convention in Washington, D.C. Another honor was bestowed upon her in 1964 as she was selected from over 900 hopefuls to tour the country as Miss Pepsi Cola. During this time, she had already begun her acting career, performing on stage and in television, including the afternoon soap opera, General Hospital.
She followed this with a hugely successful career as an entertainer, singer and recording artist, performing in supper clubs all over the world, becoming a regular for three years on the Arthur Godfrey Show, appearing on many of the talk shows of the day, including The Tonight Show, Joey Bishop and Merv Griffin, performing on numerous cruise lines, touring with her group, the Neighbors Four and eventually becoming one of the top convention acts in the business, entertaining with the likes of Bob Hope, George Burns, Jerry Van Dyke, Wayne Newton and the Smothers Brothers. Brenda left show business in 2010 after an amazing 40 year career and spent her far too short retirement years enjoying the company of friends and family at her winter homes in Florida and her summer home in Connecticut.
She will be remembered for her vivacious personality, living life to the fullest with a generous, kind and caring heart. She touched many lives and will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.
Brenda is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Elisabeth and Morris Rainville of Canterbury, CT, her niece and nephew-in-law, Kimberly and Kyle McCarthy of Canterbury, CT, her four nephews, James Oliver III of Danielson, CT and Daniel, Garth and Eric Frost of Southern CA, several great nieces and nephews and many wonderful, dear friends, whose loving care and support throughout Brenda's illness will be remembered always. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her sister, Barbara Byles Frost.
Brenda's family would like to thank all the wonderful doctors and staff at MD Anderson Orlando and from the Eastern Connecticut Hematology & Oncology Group in Norwich, CT as well as the exceptional team of nurses and auxillary staff from Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut for all their expertise, professionalism and the compassionate manner in which they handled Brenda's illness.
Visitation will be held on Monday, October 15, 2012, at Dougherty Brothers Funeral Home, 595 Norwich Road, Plainfield, CT from 4:30-8PM. A funeral service will be held at the First Congregational Church of Canterbury, 6 South Canterbury Road, Canterbury, CT on Tuesday, October 16, 2012, at 11AM. Burial will follow in Evergreen Cemetery, Central Village, CT. Another celebration of her life, to be held in Orlando, FL, will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Brenda's memory to the Windham County 4-H Foundation, Inc., 326 Taft Road, Pomfret Center, CT 06259 or to Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut, c/o Development, P.O. Box 632, Putnam, CT 06260. Dougherty Brothers Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. Published in Norwich Bulletin on October 9, 2012
Created by: Ms. Clyde
Record added: Oct 12, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 98738882