Acclaimed maritime artist and larger-than-life local activist, Alexander Byron, 87, died September 5th in Plymouth. Born in New Bedford, Alex was a lifelong local, residing in Wareham, Bourne, and Scituate before settling in Marion with his wife Suzanne over 50 years ago.
A self-taught oil painter, Alex spent the last decades of his life interpreting and preserving the maritime history he knew and loved so well. He created incredibly detailed and vivid recreations of historic ships and events, using blueprints and endless research to build his paintings like ships, in layers. His love of New Bedford whaling history took him all the way to the Arctic Circle, where he led several expeditions in the 70's to recover the sunken whaler Ansel Gibbs. After surviving a blizzard for several days alone on Marble Island, he was named "Mad Dog" by the local Inuit, a name he carried proudly -- and was always careful to live up to -- for the rest of his life.
Byron graduated from Bourne High School and Duke University and earned a master's degree in economics from George Washington University. He spent his early career in PR and politics in Washington D.C., working for two U.S. presidents and going on diplomatic missions to Russia and Greece. By the mid-sixties, Alex and his wife had settled into family life, owning and operating Byron's Landing restaurant, a waterfront landmark on Route 6 in Buzzard's Bay until its close in 1986. If you ate at Byron's Landing, there's a good chance you met and were charmed by Alex. He probably showed you some of his early paintings, hung (or painted) on walls he personally lined with wood from historic buildings he tried to save.
Alex served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Honor and tradition were important to him. He was a family man, a self-described "love slave" for his wife of 52 years and a devoted father and grandfather, always striving to inspire and enrich those around him. He gave freely of his time and love. He believed all things were possible. He was adventurous, wildly intelligent, and fun to be around; an indomitable spirit who will forever loom large to all who loved and knew him.
Alex is preceded in death by his parents, James and Evelyn Byron of Wareham, and his brother, the Honorable Chris Byron of Rochester.
Alex is survived by his wife Suzanne of Marion; sons James Allen and Christopher Charles of Marion; daughters Florence Marie of Marion and Suzanne Elizabeth of Wareham; granddaughter Anthea Tripanier and her husband David of Fairhaven; brother Charles of Wareham; and sisters Florence and Joanne Byron of Wareham.
Graveside services will be held at Evergreen Cemetery in Marion Thursday, September 14 at 1:30 pm, with a reception to follow nearby.