The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 24, 2013

Kingsville Public Library creative writing class honors Suzanne Byerley at reading

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

KINGSVILLE — Chuck Becker’s voice was strong and clear as he read the words of his dear friend Suzanne Hartman Byerley.

Byerley, a local writing instructor with the Kingsville Public Library Writers Group, wrote about the art of total observation, about sitting perfectly still for awhile amid a busy world, and just taking the time to experience the hustle and bustle.

Her advice after total observation? “Grab a notebook and have at it.”

The small circle of local scribes and friends gathered Wednesday night to read their words and honor the woman who inspired them, pushed them, praised them and then kept them writing.

Byerley, 76, of Solon died on May 14 after a semi-tractor trailer collided with her car on Route 7, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reports. A former resident of Pierpont Township, Byerley remained committed to her writing group, which includes poetry, short stories, essays, children’s books, songs and more.

Group moderator Donald Lee said Byerley’s creative writing class was a place of encouragement.

“She was a teacher, and editor and a friend,” Lee said. “She gave us a start, she gave us encouragement. She will be greatly missed.”

Byerley opened the class to anyone interested in writing — even setting up a computer for video conference so former Ashtabula County resident Tom Harris, who now lives in Georgia, could participate. The group relaxed its “adults only” requirement for a 6-year-old girl interested in writing poetry, with Byerley writing her encouragement on the girl’s crayon-drawn illustrations under her typewritten poems.

Becker said Byerley, who issued “assignments” to her students including to write an observation, write about a haircut and to write about Lake Erie, “was a never-ending source of inspiration.”

“For Suzanne, it was always about us,” he said. “She was so giving. She was a wonderful friend to everybody and she will be terribly missed.”

Nancy Genger, who concentrates on writing family stories for future generations, said the group is going to continue to meet, and write, though she said it won’t be easy.

“We are going to try,” she said. “Otherwise, we feel like we let Suzanne down. I think above all, she would want us to keep writing. It won’t be easy — Suzanne was the kind of person who wouldn’t let you give up on something and she always had another assignment waiting for you.”