One Hundred years ago, on May 9, 1914, Florence Marguerite Van Fleet married Russell Herbert Byrum. This was after they had not seen one another during their two year engagement. They were married within days, after Florence and her mother rode the train from Colorado to Chicago where Russell had been studying at the Chicago Art Institute.
The newlyweds rented a room in a boarding house. After some weeks or months there, the lady of the house shared the story of Jesus and His love with the couple at her kitchen table. Both accepted Christ as their Savior that day.
After Russell finished his education the couple settled in Denver, Colorado, where they raised two daughters. Both Russell and Florence were active in their church, as well as with the Gideons—which places Bible in hotels, with doctors & nurses, teachers, etc. Florence became the president of the Gideons’ women’s auxiliary, traveling the country by train to lead conventions, etc. She also served as a leader in their church’s missions outreach.
Russell opened the Byrum Advertising Agency and carried some of his accounts well into his 70s. He loved to share Christ at the stockyards where cattlemen gathered to sell their livestock. He also was active in the Denver area USO, especially during World War 2, often leading young GIs to Christ before they shipped overseas.
The Byrums shared an exemplary marriage for 55 years before Russell passed away at age 80. Florence lived on to reach the age of 94.
The descendants of Russell and Florence number nearly 200. Many of them have carried the message of Jesus and His love to other countries. At last count they had preached or taught the Bible in 94 nations.
The Byrums’ influence continues today – nearly a hundred years later – through the many lives they touched, and the ones those in turn have touched—a reminder that “none of us lives to himself.” Our influence spreads out as do the rings when a pebble is tossed into the waters of a still lake.