The Cleveland Public Library was renamed the “Jay C. Byers Memorial Library” in 2002 in honor of the former Cleveland attorney who left a sizable financial gift to the library upon his untimely death. Jay C. Byers was a graduate of the Cleveland High School Class of 1955.
Born with spina bifida, he overcame the challenges of that condition and learned to walk with crutches. He had a passion for books, as they gave him a wonderful avenue to explore the world around him. With the same determination that fueled his walking, Byers earned two degrees from the University of Tulsa — a bachelor’s in history in 1959 followed by an LL.B. in 1961. After graduating from law school, he returned to Cleveland where he practiced law with his father, Louis.
Byers was a familiar face in Cleveland for the next 35 years, as he practiced law and took an active civic-minded role in the community.
“Jay wanted to give back in appreciation for what he had received.”
After retiring, he relocated to Round Rock, Texas, where he died tragically in a traffic accident in 2000.
CHS classmates say Byers never considered himself handicapped, in fact, he didn’t even have a handicapped sticker on his car. They recall that he never complained about anything.
In addition to his gift to the Cleveland Library, Byers bequeathed a large portion of his estate to the TU College of Law. In his honor, the College of Law created the Jay C. Byers Endowed Scholarship Fund, remodeled and created the college’s Student Services Center, and furnished the Student Center in the new Boesche Legal Clinic. Jay’s sister, Shirley Laws, explained simply, “Jay wanted to give back in appreciation for what he had received.”