There will be a Community Celebration of Life for Clyde l. Bysom from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Saturday, July 18, 2015 at the South Park Gazebo (12th and Massachusetts Streets) Lawrence, KS (Bring Lawn Chairs). Performing will be combined City Band & New Horizons Band, Jazzhaus Big Band, and Junkyard Jazz & Gaslight Gang.
Clyde Leon Bysom, 97, of Lawrence, passed away June 1 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He was comforted in his final days by family, friends and hospital staff.
Clyde was born October 13, 1917, in Adrian, Mo., the youngest of four children of Walton and Edna Bysom. He married Pauline Moore in 1943, and they celebrated 69 years together before she passed away in 2012. Clyde is survived by daughter, Terri Bysom Stringer; three grandchildren, Chris Stringer, Stacy Stringer Walters and Brett Chalmers; and five great-grandchildren. In addition to his wife, Pauline, Clyde was preceded in death by sisters, Ethel Isbell and Iona Chapman; and brother, Ralph Bysom.
A graduate of Lawrence High School and lifelong student at the University of Kansas, Clyde was an accomplished musician and bandleader, playing saxophone, clarinet and various other instruments while composing and arranging music. He performed in his first concert in 1929 at age 12 in South Park’s gazebo with the Lawrence Boys’ Band. As a junior at Lawrence High School, he began to organize combos and dance bands to play at KU and local events. He joined the KU Band in 1936.
During World War II, Clyde enlisted in the Army Air Forces and served as a corporal and B-29 Superfortress tail gunner in the 393rd Bombardment Squadron (509th Composite Group) under the command of Colonel Paul Tibbets Jr., pilot of the Enola Gay. While stationed on Tinian island in the Northern Marianas, Clyde found time for music as a member of the 509th Jazz Band and 313th Bombardment Wing Twentieth Air Force Band. After the war, he moved to Wichita and then back to Lawrence for good in 1949.
Joining bands—50 different groups according to Clyde’s estimate—was his favorite pastime, becoming a charter member of the Lawrence City Band, KU Alumni Band, Olathe City Band and New Horizons Band. He spent decades playing with the Crimson and Blues Brothers Band, which evolved into the current Jazzhaus Big Band. Clyde also traveled with the River City Six and toured with Paul Gray’s popular Gaslight Gang. Junkyard Jazz, a band Clyde helped get off the ground with the late John Weatherwax and others in 1981, was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
To finance his passion for music, Clyde spent his early years working in manufacturing for the Westinghouse Jet Engine Division of Boeing Aircraft and General Motors. Later in his career he helped construct pipe organs for churches and concert halls at Reuter Organ Company, retiring after 25 years of service as supervisor of the console department. For more than 10 years into his late 80s, Clyde was an instrument repair technician at Hume Music.
In his last diary entry on May 15, Clyde wrote, “Ending my 85 years of blowing horns. I have had a great, long tenure though and am thankful for that.”
The family will hold a private, graveside service in the coming weeks. A band concert, which will be open to the public, is being organized in Lawrence by friends and family to celebrate his life and rich contributions to the music community. The date is undecided, but the event likely will be held in late June or early July. An announcement will follow soon.