James Michael Byrd gained his angel wings April 6, 2023. Mike was born March 2, 1960 to the late Mary Parker Byrd and Thomas B. Byrd. In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by his beloved brother, “Bubba”, sister, Linda and his maternal grandparents whom he cherished. Mike was a 1978 graduate of A.E. Beach High School and also attended Brewton-Parker College. Some of his earlier careers included home improvements and post storm disaster inspections. He traveled across states to help families assess the damage of their homes. He also worked with his father at Tom Byrd Motors.
Grandmaster Mike Byrd, “Master Byrd”, was locally renown for his impact on the community through Byrd’s Korean Martial Arts Academy. Thousands of students passed through the doors for over 20 years. He made yearly trips to South Korea to train with his instructors, who he grew to call family, and maintain his certifications of which he earned his final degrees as an 8th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido and 7th degree in Tae Kwon Do . In 1996, Master Byrd was inducted into The World Martial Arts Hall of Fame who also presented him with the Life Achievement Award in 2000. He spent time training marine recruits at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Section on Parris Island, South Carolina. In 2005, WTOC presented him the Hometown Hero award for his efforts with the youth in the community such as the school system where he taught anti-bullying, stranger awareness, and self defense classes. He also sponsored local sports teams and other numerous youth fundraisers.
Others may know Mike by the smell of his amazing BBQ from his food truck, Southernkicks BBQ. He was great at cooking up delicious ribs and feeding the locals. Mike enjoyed hunting, fishing, all things music, playing the bass guitar with several bands including his brother’s, and spending time with his family. He loved traveling with his wife and their worldly adventures. His daughter and grandchildren were his pride and joy and spoke of them to anyone who would listen. He loved watching them grow and live life in the country.
He is survived by his wife, Christine Byrd, daughter, Ashley Byrd Toro (Bernd), Stepsons, Richard and Khanh Lucas; 3 Grandchildren, Parker, Cannon, and Lacey Toro; Brothers, Rick and Gary Byrd; his previous wife Denise Woodard and extended family.
Celebration of life for Grandmaster Mike Byrd will be Friday, April 14th at 11:00 at City Church Savannah. Family will receive friends one hour prior. Any former students of Master Byrd’s who are able to participate in the service are asked to please arrive by 10:45.Print This Obituary & Condolences