Choice Leaders Mourned

Published February 1, 2000

Dr. Daniel D. McGarry, Scholar

Scholar and parental choice advocate Dr. Daniel D. McGarry died on October 24, 1999 at his family’s home in Laguna Beach, California.

McGarry was founder and chairman of the Educational Freedom Foundation and a trustee and research director of Citizens For Educational Freedom. He also was editor of Educational Freedom, a scholarly journal.

A prolific writer and authority on Western civilization and medieval history, McGarry was a professor of history at St. Louis University from 1950 until his retirement in 1976. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles and, after further studies at the University of Louvain in Belgium, he taught at Indiana University in Bloomington before moving to St. Louis.

During World War II, Dr. McGarry served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an air combat intelligence officer, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

McGarry is survived by his children and their families: Mary Anne McGarry of Laguna Beach; Patricia McGarry of Los Angeles; Margaret Bennett of St. Louis; and Daniel J. McGarry of Phoenix. His wife, Margaret, died in 1987.

W. Russell G. Byers, Columnist

Philadelphia Daily News columnist W. Russell G. Byers, a strong advocate for parental choice in education, was murdered during an armed robbery attempt on December 4, 1999, while apparently trying to move the gun-wielding assailant away from his wife.

In a 1999 article, “It’s the Schools, Stupid,” Byers argued that giving parents vouchers to direct education taxes to the school of their choice could not only reverse the decline of city schools but also reverse the decline of the cities themselves.

“[Vouchers and charter schools] represent the best hope, and perhaps the last opportunity, to stop and then reverse the flight of the middle-class from the cities,” he wrote.

Last August, Byers wrote a powerful editorial in response to a judge’s order barring the use of vouchers in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Decades ago, federal judges defied the racists and opened the schoolhouse doors for the poor,” Byers wrote. “Now a federal judge in Cleveland seems determined to slam the door in the face of 4,000 mostly black children desperate for an equal shot at an excellent education. . . . To the cheers of the teachers unions and liberal elitists everywhere, U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. threw cold water on Cleveland’s voucher plan, which provides the princely sum of $2,500 to desperate parents seeking effective alternatives to their dysfunctional public schools.”

Before becoming a columnist a decade ago, Byers, a Yale graduate, spent most of his career in government service, working with Philadelphia City Council members, state officials, and as regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Byers, who was 59, is survived by his wife, Laurada Beacham Byers, their two children, a grandson, two brothers, and two sisters.