Byerne Kenneth

Byerne Kenneth "B.K./By" Wilcox
(1945 - 2003)


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General Details

Name: Byerne Kenneth "B.K./By" Wilcox
Gender: Male
Age: 58 years old
Lived: Thursday, 3 May 1945 - Tuesday, 22 July 2003

My Story

I was born Byerne Kenneth Wilcox in Glenwood, Minnesota, on May 3, 1945, to Kenneth Andrew Wilcox and the former Joyce Evelyn Mae Smith (I always hated my first name because no one could ever pronounce it right; it was BUY-URN but I got everything from BEEYERNIE to BARNEY, so I was always known as just 'By' or B.K.). My dad was a manager for Nash Finch and my mother was a stay-at-home mom, like most women in the 1950s.

After living in Fargo, ND, for awhile, and then Marshalltown, IA, after my birth, my parents and my older sister Donna and I moved to Rapid City, SD, when I was 12 years old. I graduated from Central High School in 1963. To save up money for college, I played the drums in my own bands at several gigs around the Black Hills area.

In February 1967 I was playing at a gig near Spearfish, SD, when I met my future wife, Myrna Dayton, who was out with friends one weekend and attending college at Black Hills State, the same one I went to. We hit it off and by the summer we were engaged to be married. We tied the knot on December 27, 1967, in Rapid City. My wife and I moved to Hulett, WY, after our marriage and taught school there, she in science and me in music.

A few years later we moved to the Bison, SD, area where we taught for a couple years. After I graduated from Black Hills State University in 1973, we moved to Lemmon, SD, where Myrna taught biology. I taught band there for awhile, but then went back to Bison, commuting back and forth between the two towns every weekday. On June 7, 1979, our daughter Kenna BriAnne was born, which I later told people was the happiest moment of my life. She would be our only child.

In 1988, I accepted a teaching job in Custer, SD, and had to move away from my family. Myrna and Kenna would visit me on the weekend or I'd drive the 200+ miles back to Lemmon, but we three never lived again in the same house for very long together. Most people thought this living arrangement was strange, or that my wife and I had divorced or separated, but the truth was was that Myrna had family in Lemmon and didn't want to uproot our daughter from her friends and family. It turns out it was a good thing she didn't follow me to Custer because after 4 years I had accepted a teaching job in Hot Springs, SD. From there I would teach in Buffalo, Bison, El Paso, TX, Yuma, CO, and back to Buffalo again in the span of 11 years.

During the summertime starting in the late 1980s, while living in Custer, I was given the opportunity to perform at the Mountain Music Show. I was the "funny drummer" and the clown of the show. I had tons of fans, some coming from different countries year after year to see me. They loved my act and the weird faces I would make during songs. Unfortunately, I fell out with the boss, Pee Wee Dennis, in 1991. Me and two other guys from the show, Chan and Roy, decided to buy an old theater in downtown Custer. We renovated it and intended to put on our own comedy and music show to rival that of Mountain Music's. My wife sang a couple songs in the show, and my 13-year-old daughter played some parts in comedy acts, but unfortuntely our theater never got off the ground and we had to close it down after just a year. Even though people said our show was a lot better than Pee Wee's, we just couldn't make it work. After that, my old high school classmate, Herman Jones, had just bought the buildings and props from the set of the movie "Dances With Wolves," and was planning on opening up a country music and comedy show just outside of Rapid City. He offered me a job and I took it. I went back briefly with MMS for a couple years, but returned permanently to Ft. Hays in 1996.

On July 21, 2003, I told my coworker Chan after the show that night that I wasn't feeling good and that my back was killing me. I told him I was going to go home and rest because I thought I was getting the flu. Chan was worried about me and wanted to call a doctor. I told him not to worry about it, that if after I took a nap and still did not feel good, then I would call an ambulance. When I didn't show up for work the night of the 22nd, Chan was very worried. He called my wife up in Lemmon the next day, saying he hadn't heard from me and described the symptoms I was having to her. She told him, "My god, Chan, that sounds like a heart attack," at which time he hung up the phone and immediately called the police after trying several times to rouse my daughter, who was fast asleep at her house with the ringer on the phone turned off. The police went to my daughter's house and then to my apartment where they found me. I had passed away some 30 hours before.

I wouldn't say I had an extraordinary life, or at times even a very happy one, but I lived it as best I could with what I was given. People misunderstood me and assumed I was the same goofy, lovable personality that I was on stage, when at home I could be very morose and reserved. This caused friction between my daughter and wife towards me, but I know they were very sad when I passed. I certainly never imagined that my own daughter would find me dead on my bed someday. How horrible it was for her and I am sorry she had to go through that.


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Fathers Name: Kenneth Andrew Wilcox
Mothers Name: Joyce Evelyn Mae Smith
Spouse's Name: Myrna Dayton
Children's Names: Kenna
Siblings Names: Donna Mae
Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
City of Residence: Rapid City, SD
Occupation: Education & Training
Marital Status: Married
Religion: Other Christian


Favourite Sport: Motor Racing
Favourite Book: Autobiographies on entertainers
Favourite Movie: Any movies made from the 1920s to 1950s
Favourite Music Genre: Jazz
Favourite Artist: Too many to mention


Place of Passing: Rapid City
Date of Passing: 22 July 2003
Cause of Passing: Heart attack/ruptured aorta/congestive heart failure
Type of Funeral: Memorial
Place of Burial: Cremation, spreading of ashes at Ft. Hays
Funeral Location: Ft. Hays, Rapid City, SD
Funeral Date: 26 July 2003
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