Richard Byrne (“Byrne”) Vickers, 89, died Jan. 27, 2022, in Wichita, Kansas after a decade-long journey with Alzheimer’s. He was born on Nov. 2,1932, to J.A. (“Jack”) Vickers and Helen Elizabeth (“Nell”) Vickers in Wichita, Kansas – the sixth of their eight children. Byrne attended Blessed Sacrament Elementary School in Wichita and Cascia Hall in Tulsa for high school. After high school, Byrne first attended Santa Clara University in California and later Oklahoma State University, where he graduated with a B.S. in Animal Husbandry.
On December 31 1958, he married Rebecca Anne (“Becky”) Hunzicker of Oklahoma City.
They had four daughters in quick succession: Beth, Laurie, Lisa, and Trish, and also had
little “doggie daughters,” a number of beloved Westies throughout the years, most recently
Molly and Gracie. Although Byrne worked for many years with Harris Burns Insurance
Company (and later retired with IMA Insurance), his true passions were his faith, his family,
and sports. He was an active golfer and loved watching football and basketball as well as
traveling to many NCAA March Madness rounds throughout the years with friends and
family. Additionally, he and Becky enjoyed traveling immensely and explored much of the
US and Europe. He especially loved trips to Colorado and Montana in the US and to the
UK, France, and Italy in Europe. Byrne served on the boards of Big Brothers, Catholic
Charities, and the Catholic Care Center for many years. He faithfully donated blood
monthly at the Red Cross during much of his adult life. In addition, he delivered Meals on
Wheels to the homebound during his retirement years.
Those are all salient facts, but what truly describes the measure of a life? Quality relationships,
special times with those you hold dear, impacting lives for good. We want to pay tribute to our
dearest husband and father, Byrne Vickers. Each of us is missing him and grieving the loss of
the man we knew and loved in our own way. Each of us was touched by him in very particular
and unique ways, but all of us were touched by his love and dear heart! Byrne was a man of
integrity, a man with a generous and kind and loving spirit, a man with a funny sense of humor.
Quiet. Understated. Sometimes mischievous, often ornery!
Most of all, Byrne was a man of incredibly strong faith, which was his guiding light and his
“rock” throughout his life. Byrne attended Catholic schools, and was particularly supported in
his life by his relationships with the priests and his friends from Cascia Hall in Tulsa where he
went to high school. Father Spielman was his mentor, and Byrne maintained a close friendship
with him throughout his life. Byrne lost his own father at age 8, and these priests filled such an
important, essential fatherly role for him always. Summers spent at Camp Holy Cross and The
Broadmoor also made a significant impact as to who Byrne was to become.
Along with his faith, Byrne was deeply devoted to his family - to his beloved wife, Becky; to his
four “girls” Beth, Laurie, Lisa, and Trish; to his nine grandchildren; to his mom and siblings while
they were living; and to his extended family, especially his many nieces and nephews. Byrne’s
primary vocation was taking care of his family. Much like St. Joseph, he had a servant’s heart.
No matter what, he was there. Always there. Supportive, generous, quiet but connected, with a
big love that he didn’t always know how to express, but there nonetheless. His steadfast
presence, encouragement, and support spoke volumes.
Byrne’s great care and kindness extended well beyond his family and encompassed his friends
as well as those he encountered on the street. He would always go out of his way to help
someone in need. Driving into the mountains of Colorado, snow falling thickly and blanketing the
highway, a person whose car had broken down - Byrne stopped and gave assistance. A woman
stranded in the Dillons’ parking lot - Byrne gave her a ride home. Years of dedicated delivery of
Meals On Wheels to people confined to their homes. Much like Jesus, who, with unsurpassed
love, was always reaching out to help those in need, Byrne consistently walked the faith he
Right up there with faith, family, and friends for Byrne was golf! He was an avid golfer his entire
life and enjoyed golf trips with his brothers for many years. He spent untold happy hours on
fairways and greens at the Wichita Country Club, Flint Hills National Golf Club, and Castle
Pines as well as at a number of other courses around the US and in the UK. A caddy at
Wichita Country Club once said of Byrne, “Always a gentleman!” That very much captures the
essence of Byrne’s character and demeanor. Byrne endeavored to pass his love of golf on to
his four daughters, but failed miserably; however, he was much more successful in passing his
enthusiasm on to his son-in-laws and grandchildren!
Without a doubt, one of Byrne’s great legacies was his toffee-making. He was known far and
wide for it, and it was much prized and coveted by those who received it at Christmas each
year. Spouses were known to hide it from each other or to dole it out parsimoniously over the
course of several months to make it last longer. His daughter, Beth, and niece, Corie, continue
the toffee-making tradition.
Byrne was a storyteller at heart and loved regaling listeners with numerous humorous
anecdotes from his past. He also loved sharing words of wisdom with almost anyone who
would listen. Naturally, one of Byrne’s favorite maxims was connected to golf: ”Keep it in the
fairway! And if you get out of the fairway, get your ass back in there as fast as you can!” He
thought it was excellent guidance for both golf and for life. Another life principle he loved to
share, particularly with his grandchildren, was “the 7 ‘P’s’ of West Point:” “Proper prior
planning prevents piss poor performance!” Byrne absolutely lived by this principle and put it
to good use through the meticulous planning of their homes in Wichita and in the Flint Hills as
well as in plotting numerous trip itineraries. Another lasting-legacy that Byrne inadvertently
handed down was the “colorful” and extensive vocabulary to his grandchildren from an early
age, much to the dismay of their parents!
Some might say that Byrne “suffered” from Alzheimer’s in his later years. Although the disease
presented many challenges, we also witnessed a return to childlike wonder and joy and good
humor. He was content to gaze up at the clouds in the sky and sing “Blue skies … nothing but
blue skies,” or spend time out in the garden enchanted by nature, or simply watch birds flying
overhead, and take such delight in the beauty of life around him, a wide smile of gratitude and
joy lighting up his face! We all marveled with him these last number of years at the miracle of
the “glowing hour,” when the setting sun, without fail, illuminated a statue of Mary at the end of
the garden each evening at about 7. The statue, from his childhood home at Vickridge, was a
special reminder of his own mother.
One of Byrne’s most special experiences in these last, more challenging, years was when
Terrylee “kidnapped” him and took him to the OSU/K-State football game in Manhattan several
years ago. They had a very big adventure! Terry planned every detail of the day with loving
care from the drinks and snacks he had packed in the car, to the special parking pass, to the
private box seats for the game. When they returned home at the end of the day, Dad
remembered very little of what had happened during the day, but his ear-to-ear grin told the
whole story, and he was radiating happiness. And, the photos they took are a lasting reminder
of their perfect day.
Alzheimer’s is often a challenging and heartbreaking experience for the entire family, but during
these last several years, Byrne was incredibly blessed to be the recipient of excellent care and
exceptional kindness from seven extraordinary angels: Cheryl Robinson, Liberty Robinson,
Christy Lane, Aquila Wilson, Lisa Buller, Carla Crockett, and Shirlon Dawson. We also extend
enormous gratitude to Terrylee Littlejohn, Rosie Brooks, Tagen Pacheco, Deano Taverius,
Jackie Cleary, Serafin Torres, and Carmen Dick for unending friendship, continuous support,
and invaluable help. All of those mentioned here are like extended family to us and so very
dear to our hearts!
How does one sum up a life? So many memories we each have! What is undeniable is that
Byrne had “a life well lived!” and profoundly impacted the lives of so many people around him.
We love you so very, very much, Byrne/Dad, and we will miss you even more!!! Let’s go fly a
kite, up to the highest heights!!
Byrne was preceded in death by his parents, John Aldred (“Jack”) and Helen Elizabeth
(“Nell”) Vickers, and siblings:v Helen Clark (Preston); Patricia A. “Pat” Sinclair (Tommy); J.A.
“Jack” (Cally) Vickers, Jr.; Paula M. Petrie (Jack); James W. “Jimmy” Vickers; Robert F.
“Bobby” (Susan) Vickers; and Thomas M. “Tommy” Vickers. He is survived by his wife,
Becky; their daughters, Beth Lockard (Mike), Laurie Vickers, Lisa Hupp (Keith), and Trish
Doerhoff (Dale); grandchildren, Todd Lockard, Austin Lockard (Christine), Elizabeth “Lizzie”
Lockard, Brian Campbell, Aiden Campbell, Ian Campbell, Cashion Hupp, Lillian Rebecca
“Lilly” Hupp, and Ryan Doerhoff (Hannah); and his great-granddaughter, Rowan Doerhoff, due
March 21, 2022 as well as many nieces and nephews and two sisters-in-law, Rhonda Vickers
McClure and JoDee Vickers.
Rosary will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 4, 2022, at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic
Church,1321 N. Stratford Lane, Wichita, Kansas 67206.
Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 5, 2022, at St. Thomas
Aquinas Catholic Church,1321 N. Stratford Lane, Wichita, Kansas 67206.
Memorials or donations may be made to Meals on Wheels (Senior Services of Wichita)
or Catholic Charities, Diocese of Wichita.