David Byrd Gwinn died Thursday, February 4, 2021, in Pinehurst, North Carolina, of complications from the Covid-19 virus.  He was 77.

He will be remembered always by his loving wife of 55 years, Molly, his devoted son David and daughter-in-law Janice, and his cherished grandchildren, William and Nora.  He is survived by his sister Anne Gwinn Fox and brother-in-law John Jay Fox, of Richmond, Virginia, by eight nephews, three nieces, and numerous cousins, as well as a bounty of dear friends and colleagues.  He was predeceased by his beloved son William Edward, who died in 1984, and by his older brother, James Anderson Gwinn, who died in 1996.   

Byrd had a long and distinguished career as an executive in the property casualty insurance business.  When he retired after 30 years from the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies as Deputy Chief Underwriting Officer, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, he had managed numerous branch and regional offices for the corporation.  Later, he worked for Kemper Insurance Companies as President of the Northeast Region, with offices in the World Trade Center on 9/11 when the towers were destroyed. Throughout his professional life, Byrd was known for bringing his talent for innovation and a disciplined yet personal management style to all facets of the insurance business.

Byrd and Molly retired to Pinehurst in 2005, following two generations of Molly’s family who had loved the community since the 1920s.  Byrd spent many years as a member and president of the Board of Directors for Penick Village.  He also served a number of terms on the Planning and Zoning Board for the Village of Pinehurst.  And he was a member of the Finance Committee of Emmanuel Church in Southern Pines.  He played golf at both the Pinehurst Country Club and the Country Club of North Carolina.  In addition, he could be found daily on the Village walkways with his black and white springer spaniel, Sophie, and generally on Friday nights at 195. 

Byrd was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia, and never lost his distinctive accent or his attachment to the Ohio River Valley.  He graduated from Culver Military Academy in 1961, Washington and Lee University in 1965, and the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development, in 1986.  He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1965, and served a three year tour of duty in Mannheim, Germany, retiring as a captain in 1968. Throughout his life, Byrd loved sports and games, as a player and spectator, beginning with his summers as a Little Leaguer and Cincinnati Reds fan and continuing with tennis, squash, golf, and family ski trips.

Byrd had a gift for friendships with his business colleagues, acquaintances from numerous communities across the country, and their children.  He will be deeply missed by so many family members and friends for his intelligence and wit, his curiosity and sense of fun, and for his generous heart.

Memorial gifts may be made to The Benevolent Assistance Fund, Penick Village, 500 East Rhode Island Avenue, Southern Pines, NC, 28387; the William Edward Gwinn Memorial Fund, Haverford School, 460 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA, 19041; or the 22q and You Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation, PO Box 781352, Philadelphia, PA 19178.

 

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  1. Molly,

    I’m very sorry to hear about Byrd’s passing. We were contemporaries at Chubb and, although we didn’t know each other well, I respected him and remember in particular a wonderful eulogy he wrote for Jim Hiney.

    I was the branch manager in Houston sometime after Byrd and you were there. A mutual friend, Verle Petri, told me a funny story about him that still makes me laugh today. It was the early 1980’s and the economy in Houston was booming. And, unfortunately, someone Byrd had just recently hired quit for another job that paid more money. As he and Verle were walking to lunch, Byrd turned and said, “Verle, you know what this town needs? A good recession!” Well, two years later it got it!

    My deepest sympathy to you and the rest of your family.

    Dick Vreeland
    Chatham, NJ

  2. I am truly surprised that Byrd let this happen!!!……(only his friends will understand this thought) …..AND lots of love to Molly

  3. Molly,
    As you already know, we were so saddened to hear about Byrd’s passing. He will be sorely missed by all of us in Jim’s family. Jimmy, John and Kevin will especially miss him and remember so many good times with all of you. How well we remember how much you and Byrd did for us during Jim’s illness and after he was gone. God help and keep you during this difficult time
    Dody Gm

  4. Molly, so saddened to hear of Byrd’s passing. We had many wonderful Friday nights at the bar (195)! He will be missed immensely! Much Love to you!

  5. Molly,
    I know there’s little we can do or say to mitigate the anguish of your loss. Please know that Sarah and I think of you every day. Our hearts are with you.

  6. Molly – it seems like yesterday that Byrd and you got married in Fayetteville, NC. You asked me to be in the wedding, and I came to NC from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to be part of your ceremony. It was a wonderful week-end.

    Then Byrd and you and the boys came to Houston, and Donna and I loved having your family here. It was fun to have such good friends in the city.

    And the memories of Jim and Byrd at W&L are still so fresh. We had such fun there.

    I am so sorry about your loss, and hope that you are OK.

    Donna and I are so sorry about your loss, and we send our love to you and your family.

    Don

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