Remembering Brother Lionel Byrne

Lionel Byrne

In Loving Memory

On the morning of July 7th, 2021, in his 81st year, Joseph Lionel Byrne (Lionel) passed away at home in Kingston Ontario, with his loving and devoted wife Judith (Judi), of nearly 48 years, by his side.

His extraordinary life started on April 1st, 1941, in Bobcaygeon Ontario. Born to Zeta (Simpson) Byrne and (Thomas)Leo Byrne he was oldest of 13 children. Lionel spent much of his youth in Fenelon Falls Ontario doing his best to keep his 7 brothers out of trouble. He graduated from high school and then entered, in good Irish Catholic tradition, St. Augustine’s seminary in Toronto. He also studied at Loyola University Chicago. Lionel was ordained in 1965 and was a pastor for 7 years in the Peterborough diocese.

Lionel left the priesthood and travelled extensively throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Upon returning to Canada, he found employment in Orillia Ontario. He worked here while he waited to begin his Master of Social Work at Carleton University. It was while working at the Huronia Regional Institute that he fell in love with a feisty redhead that would become his partner in life. Lionel and Judi (Clements) were married on October 5th, 1973 in Ottawa Ontario.

Lionel and Judi began their nomadic style life with their move to Halifax. Upon graduating with his Masters of Social Work, they moved to Fort Smith, North West Territories, with their young son Sean. Here they lived and worked until Lionel made the decision to join the Canadian Forces as a Military Social Worker. At 35, he was the oldest cadet, but graduated top cadet after 16 weeks of basic training in Chilliwack British Columbia. Their family grew in 1977 with the birth of their daughter Erin, in Victoria B.C.

The military moved them to Ottawa, Kingston (RMC), Lahr West Germany, Ottawa, and finally Trenton. Lionel officially retired from the Military in 1995, but quickly returned to work for the military as a civilian. Lionel took on the role of Director of the Military Family Resource Centre for a few years, but eventually returned to his true vocation of counselling. Lionel continued to work in this role until the age of 75. By this point he and Judi returned to Kingston to live close to their four grandchildren Anna, Claire, Simon and Luna. Lionel’s most cherished times were always those spent with his family, in particular those moments when was he was cheering on his grandchildren at the hockey rink or taking advantage of naptime with Luna.

Lionel will be deeply missed by his wife and soulmate Judi, his son Sean and his wife Laura, his daughter Erin and her husband Jonnie Walker and their children Luna, Anna, Claire and Simon respectively; He leaves behind his brothers and sisters, Mike and wife Nancy; Gary and his partner Carol; Greg and his wife Carol; Paul and his wife Joan; Stephen and his partner Marilyn; and his sisters Linda; AnnMarie and her husband Richard White; Philomena and her husband Marty Childs; Ruth Ann and her husband Roger McInnis; and Sister-in-law Pat. He is predeceased by his parents Zeta and Leo and his brothers Kevin and John, and his sister Janice. He will be missed by his mother-in-law Florence Clements of Orillia; his sisters and brothers in laws Joanne and Peter Ward, Joyce and Earl Giffen, Janice and Ken Laing. His many nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews will miss their Uncle Lionel. Lionel’s life’s vocation was motivated by faith, family and a genuine care for others. He held many titles over his lifetime and his impact was far reaching. Aside from ‘Dad’, his favorite title, by far, was ‘Grandpa’.

Family and friends will be received on Wednesday July 14th from 2-4pm at The Gordon F. Thompkins Funeral Home on 435 Davis Drive, Kingston. Visitors must call the funeral home in advance at 613-546-5150 to reserve their attendance. There will be a private family funeral with interment to follow at Cataraqui Cemetery.

A special thank you to Dr. Sladic, Dr. Peters, Dr. Thomas, the staff on Davis 5, and the PSWs who supported Judi in caring for Lionel at home. Not to be forgotten are the many friends and neighbors of the Emerald St. community.

Please consider making a donation, in his name, to the Parkinson’s Society or a charity of your choice.


(With thanks to G.F. Tompkins Funeral Home -Township Chapel)

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