"The sweetest person you'll ever know;" Chatham community comes together in time of loss


CHATHAM, Va. (WSET) -- Chatham's mayor is recovering in the hospital after his house caught fire Thursday afternoon.

His wife, unfortunately, passed away in the blaze.

After the Chatham community heard what had happened, there was an outpouring of support for Mayor Roy Byrd's family, messages with sayings like, "Pray for the Byrd family" are right in the middle of town.

Roy Byrd has been the mayor of Chatham since 2012.

"You can call him at two in the morning and he would get out of bed and come to your house and fix the situation for you," said Joseph Ruggeri, who owns the Main Street Service Center in town.

But, now, his community is showing support for him.

Byrd's wife, Lois Byrd, passed away in the fire that Pittsylvania County Public Safety officials said was contained to the basement, where she was found.

Town Council members said they are in shock and are keeping the entire Byrd family in their thoughts.

Will Pace, a town council member sent the following statement:

On Thursday, our entire community was devastated and saddened by the news of the sudden and tragic death of Lois Byrd. Lois was one of the sweetest and caring individuals I have ever met. Her passing is a tremendous shock to us all.
As you know, Mayor Roy Byrd is in the hospital recovering from smoke inhalation. We all wish Roy a speedy and full recovery. Please keep the Byrd family in your prayers during this difficult time.
In the face of such devastating news we will remain “Chatham Strong” in the coming days and weeks by giving Roy and his family our love and support.

"She was the sweetest person you'll ever know," said Ruggeri, adding he doesn't know anyone that doesn't like Mr. or Mrs. Byrd.

He called the mayor influential and friendly.

"But at the same time, down home, and just an all around great person," he continued. "Come 'round, introduce himself, let them know who he is, see if he needs us to do anything for him. He's just that kind of person."

Janet R. Bishop, another Chatham council member also called the loss of Lois Byrd devastating and shocking.

"The loss of Lois Byrd has been shocking and devastating; she was a loved and valued member of our community, and we feel much sympathy for our Mayor Byrd and his loss."

Council member Pace said with such devastating news, the town will remain "Chatham Strong" for the Byrd family.

"Roy we miss you buddy, hope you get feeling better real quick," Ruggeri said.

The Byrd's daughter wrote on Facebook that Mayor Byrd is recovering from smoke inhalation and had just come home from the hospital the day before for heart problems.

The Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire and the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death.

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