• 70°

Leaders mourn death of

Troy Council pioneer Byrd

By BETH LAKEY

Staff Writer

March 7, 2000 11 PM

Public officials are mourning the loss of a man who broke the color barrier on the Troy City Council.

Former Troy Councilman Alphonsa Byrd, who was the first black male to serve the City of Troy as a council member, died Monday night.

He had recently been hospitalized at Edge Regional Medical Center.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford received the sad news early Tuesday morning.

"Alphonsa was just a prince of a fellow," Lunsford said of the man he considered "a father figure" to those who have served on the council. "The City of Troy has lost a true friend."

Lunsford passed the news on to Perry Roquemore of the Alabama League of Municipalities, who was upset to hear of Byrd’s death.

"He was a good representative of the City of Troy," Roquemore said.

He said Byrd was helpful in coordinating trips to Washington, D.C. for the Second Congressional District.

Roquemore said Byrd was "an active participant in the League" and offered his assistance on a number of occasions.

"He was a good, Christian man," Lunsford said of the man he credited with helping to make the transition from commission to council smoother.

When Byrd and his fellow council members were sworn in on May 8, 1985, they all made history by being the first to serve in the mayor-council form of government. Troy had a commission form of government for 40 years before the change was made.

But, it was Byrd who went on to make history with his constituents in District 5.

State Rep. Alan Boothe said it was his "pleasure" to serve with Byrd the 10 years they worked together for the betterment of Troy.

"He was a fine, fine gentleman," Boothe said upon hearing of Byrd’s death.

"He had the people’s needs at heart," he said, adding Byrd was the true definition of a public servant.

Boothe recalled seeing Byrd, who oversaw the utilities department, take money from his own pocket to help someone who couldn’t afford to pay his bill.

Boothe said Byrd was also a key player in the sale of the hospital, which now bears the name Edge Regional Medical Center.

But, Byrd, who served on the city council until 1996, wasn’t only active in city government. He was also active in his church, Lunsford said.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.