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In loving memory of Sanford L. Byrd whose vision and dedication was a driving force in the creation of ESPER's first website.


Sanford L. Byrd was born on March 30, 1946 in Bad-Hersfeld Germany. His German name was Franz Xavier Maria Riemenschneider. The first 12 years of his life were spent living in two orphanages, one in Essen-Steele and the other one in Bad-Hersfeld. He often recalled some of his experiences while growing up in Germany. Everything he owned could fit in a small box that was kept under his bed. Meals were served at scheduled times, and if you missed one, there were no snacks to get you by until the next meal. Coffee was often served with the meals because milk was not supplied. Sanford remembered that every year the older children, including himself, would be taken to a farm to dig potatoes for the owner. He would say that they always looked upon this event as having fun because they knew that the owner would give them a good meal. Discipline was strict, and bad behavior was not tolerated. There were no toys. He and the other children played on the grounds and in the immediate vicinity of the orphanage. A great deal of emphasis was put on daily studying after he would return from the elementary school he attended.


In 1958, Leroy and Roxie Byrd adopted Sanford and brought him to Corpus Christi, Texas. They furnished a tutor for him initially because he could not speak English. The tutor was somewhat helpful, but Sanford learned most of his English by watching the westerns that were on television during that time. He was enrolled in the 5th grade at Booker T. Washington Elementary in Corpus Christi, but his educational background and previous learning exceeded that grade. This became more evident as he began speaking English. Sanford graduated from Roy Miller High School in 1964.


After high school, Sanford enlisted in the Army, where he spent the next 15 years. His travels were extensive including two tours of duty in Korea, and he came very close to being sent to Vietnam. Instead, he was assigned the duty of Supply Sergeant for pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies. Sanford began collecting German stamps while he was in the Army and kept this up for a while until his small collection was stolen. In 1979, he underwent his first heart by-pass surgery and subsequently retired for medical reasons. Sanford began collecting again in 1985 with the Black Heritage Series. He enjoyed reading and learning more about all aspects of philately which included but were not limited to first day covers, ceremony programs, African Americans on world wide stamps, African American people & themes, commemorative panels, souvenir sheets, and selected topicals. His collection is extensive and amazingly representative of all these areas, very neatly distributed and categorized in attractive albums. His communication with others in the philatelic arena was widespread. Sanford was a member of the APS (American Philatelic Society), the AFDCS (American First Day Cover Society), the ATA (American Topical Association), the ACPS (American Ceremony Program Society), and of course ESPER. Collecting was a true hobby for him, which he took very seriously.


Almost equally as important to Sanford was the joy he experienced from computing. Both hobbies worked very well together for him. Sanford essentially taught himself how to use the computer over a period of time, and he enjoyed updating his hardware, peripherals, and software. After becoming a member of ESPER, he wanted to undertake producing a newsletter for the organization. He threw himself into this project with the intense spirit that he often displayed with other endeavors. Reflections was his pride and joy, and he was excited that he could make this contribution to ESPER. Additionally, Sanford designed his own website to display a small portion of his collection. He received numerous accolades from viewers for his effort. Sanford Le Byrd was basically a private person. He enjoyed being at home, watching sports on television, being on his computer, and expanding his collection. He passed away at home, privately and peacefully in his office, at his desk on September 4, 2002. Sanford is survived by his wife of 17 years, a son and daughter-in-law, two daughters, four grandchildren, four stepsons, and other relatives and friends.


Sanford L. Byrd's African and African-American Stamp Collections, Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, Nelson Mandela Collection, African Americans on World-wide Stamps which includes Paul Robeson stamps are featured below.

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