John J. Byrnes Sr., 84, of Keene and Swanzey, passed away on Jan. 9, 2022, after a short illness.
John was born in Bellows Falls on June 6, 1937, to parents Lawrence and Helen Byrnes, and was raised in North Walpole. He married Dorothy Blake on Oct. 12, 1957, and moved to Keene, where he worked at the Keene Police Department from 1959 until his retirement in 1984.
John was a member of the National Ski Patrol, working at several ski areas in the region. He attained “senior” status, a title earned after passing a series of difficult tests in skiing proficiency and first aid. This allowed John to work a full-time Ski Patrol job at Mount Sunapee for a number of years after retirement. John also acquired a commercial driver’s license and drove tractor trailers for a time.
Through the Cheshire County Republican Party, John became active in campaign work at the local, state and national levels. He worked on campaigns for current N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu, former U.S. Senator John E. Sununu, Gov. John H. Sununu, former U.S. Rep. Charles Bass, Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and candidate for President, Sen. Bob Dole. At the local level, he worked to support current Mayor George Hansel, former State Senate President Tom Eaton of Keene, and former Keene Mayor Michael Blastos. John also provided vision and assistance to the City of Keene in the rededication of The Michael E.J. Blastos Community Room through proper signage, photo and a plaque honoring Mayor Blastos that he believed was a fitting finish of the space at the municipal complex on Marlboro Street.
He served as the N.H. Senate doorman in Concord after one term as the District 12 Representative in the N.H. House of Representatives, from 2001 through 2012. John was responsible for several fundraising events that benefited Keene: $48,000 for the Keene Fire Department for three thermal-imaging machines; $41,000 for more than 300 new band uniforms for the Keene Middle School; and $23,000 for the purchase of new honor guard uniforms for the Keene Police Department.
He is survived by his children: Michael Byrnes of Keene; Sheryl (Byrnes) Beckta of Keene; John J. Byrnes Jr. and his wife, Kiersten McKenney, of Brattleboro; and Timothy Byrnes and his wife, Jennifer, of Troy; his grandchildren: Ryan Byrnes, Ian Byrnes, Dr. Jason Beckta and his wife, Julie; Adam Beckta and his wife, Madeline; Jessica Muzzey and her wife, Stacie Mathieu; Josh Byrnes and his wife, Jessica; Jamie Hsu and her husband, Chien-Luke; Colin McKenney and his wife, Lulu; Allison Alger and her husband, Gavin; and Emily Byrnes; several great-grandchildren; and his niece, Diane Hughey, and her husband, Paul, and nephews, Todd and Nathan. John is also survived by his brother, James, and his wife, Luci.
John’s wife, Dorothy, predeceased him in 2021.
Family and friends are invited to call on the family Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fenton & Hennessey Funeral Home, 55 Westminster St., Bellows Falls. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. Charles Parish, 31 Cherry Hill St., Bellows Falls, on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Cemetery Road, Westminster, Vt. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John’s memory to the Community Hospice House, 7 Executive Park Drive, Merrimack NH 03054. Donations may be made online at www.hhhc.org/how-to-help/memorial-gifts/.