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O’BYRNE, James E. (Jim)

September 15, 1933 – February 1, 2019

Jim O’Byrne passed from this life peacefully surrounded by family on Friday, February 1, 2019, after a life well lived and filled with love.

Jim leaves behind his best friend, true love and wife of over 60 years, Leone, along with their clan of children, spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren numbering almost forty. Many people in both his personal and professional life have been blessed and influenced by the legacy Jim created through all that he did and how he did it.

Jim was born on September 15, 1933, to Lewis and Marie O’Byrne in Arborfield, Saskatchewan.  He was one of the five “bush babies” born in northern Saskatchewan to complement their earlier five “prairie chickens”.  Jim has three sisters who survive him; Pat Dixon (Seattle), Rose Marie Akeson (Calgary) and Louise Haine (Houston).

Jim left the Arborfield farm home in 1948 to complete his high school and university at Notre Dame College at Wilcox, Saskatchewan. Wilcox was his family’s prairie home before the drought of the 1930s drove them to northern Saskatchewan.  In 1957 he made his way to Edmonton where he joined Pan American Petroleum Corporation, which supported his love for competitive curling and helped him to develop as a landman.  He married his college love Leone Froehlich on July 5, 1958 in Marquis, Saskatchewan, and together they had seven children, Daniel (Teresa), Michael (Ruth), Mary Louise (Scott Wilson), Susan Graham, Debbie Barry (Bill Carpenter), Kimberly (Ron Wunder) and Patricia (Brent Brown, deceased). Jim and Leone have 22 grandchildren and one great-grandchild and Jim often said, “Each one is nicer than the other.”

In 1963 Jim and Leone followed Pan American to Calgary where they took up residence in the Scarboro area and have lived for more than 55 years.  Jim spent many years flooding ice, coaching hockey and fastball and encouraging neighbourhood children to come out and play.  He was widely known as one of the loudest umpires in southwest Calgary.  Jim and Leone were active members of Sacred Heart and St. Michael’s Parishes.  Jim truly loved Calgary, boldly defending it at all times from his “Rider Green” relatives in Saskatchewan.

Jim served as Director and President of The Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen (CAPL), the American Associations of Petroleum Landmen (AAPL) and the Canadian Petroleum Association. He also served as a Calgary Catholic School Board Trustee and Director of the Calgary United Way and Calgary Catholic Family Services.

Jim’s daytime passion was the land management part of the petroleum business.  Retirement was never considered.  He was a noted guru regarding industry agreements and was responsible for driving the creation of many standardized documents widely used in the industry.  He instructed courses and presented seminars for thousands of students, served as an expert witness in many court cases providing insight to industry practice, and has been a mentor for many oil and gas professionals. He was often invited to provide advice and counsel to First Nations communities across the country. He received numerous awards and honours recognizing his contributions to CAPL and AAPL. Most recently, CAPL recognized his lifelong contribution and legacy with the dedication of the “J.E. (Jim) O’Byrne Classroom” in its new teaching facility.  He truly respected the oil industry and touted its contribution to the health, education and civility of our communities. In 1991 Jim served as a special delegate to the United Nations Asia-Pacific Roundtable in Kuala Lumpur on fiscal and administrative strategies for petroleum exploration and development organized by the UN and Petronas. Jim admitted that this sounded a bit heady for a farm-boy from Saskatchewan but his Notre Dame mentor, Father Athol Murray, did not permit his students to think small, encouraging each of them based on his own mantra, “To him who does what in him lies, God will not deny His grace.”

Jim wanted us all to know that his life was a wonderful journey thanks to the love, friendship, and interactions that he had with Leone, his loving family, his cherished friends, and those he mentored.  In his Irish way, Jim’s wish to the end was that, “The bright Alberta sun would shine warmly on each of us and that its chinook winds would blow gently on our backs”.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Michael Catholic Community (800 – 85th Street S.W., Calgary, AB) on Friday, February 15, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. Graveside service to follow at St. Michael Catholic Community Columbarium. Reception to follow at the Glencoe Club (636-29 Ave. S.W., Calgary, AB) at 3:00 p.m. Condolences may be forwarded through

In living memory of James O’Byrne, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park on Jim’s birthday – September 15th, 2019 by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Patrick O'Byrne :

    Our warmest thoughts are with you and your family at this time.
    Patrick and Angela O’Byrne and family.

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  2. Corinne Keough :

    Dear Debbie and family:
    I am so sorry to learn of your loss. My best thoughts.

    Corinne Keough

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  3. Joe, Antonietta and Vic Astorino :

    To Leone , Dan , Mike and the entire O’Byrne family, our deepest condolences
    On the passing of Mr. Jim O’Byrne.
    Jim was truly an incredible person. He was a leader and a man who left his mark. A big man who cast a big shadow.

    We always looked forward to his visits to the barber shop. Jim was always happy and had a great sense of humor. Everyone in the oil industry knew him and Jim took the time to get to know everyone. Despite all his successes he was one of the most humble, genuine down to earth men I ever met.
    In the shop he never talked business, it was only ever jokes or proud stories about his children and grandchildren.

    Currently out of the country, my fathers heart broke on news of Jim’s passing.
    He said “Jim was a client and friend for almost 60 years. The most loyal of customers Jim also brought Mike and Dan to the shop as kids.”

    A truly larger than life spirit. Jim will be missed by everyone. Take comfort in knowing high above , Jim is watching with a smile on his face and cracking a joke to someone.

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  4. Caroline (nee Cornish) :

    Dear Debbie and Family,
    I have such fond memories of your Dad. He had such a great sense of humor, as one would need coaching a bunch of 10 year old giggly girls. Mr O’Byrne was so kind and made everyone feel welcome, like family, at your family home in Scarboro. We were all lucky to have known such a true gentleman.
    Thanks for the great memories Mr O’Byrne!
    My deepest condolences to all of the O’Byrne clan.

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  5. After I left Amoco Jim took me under his wing to work with him at Range and later on at Crimson then Altima. He was great to work for/with always providing encouragement and being supportive. When negotiating Jim always seemed to be able to make others feel comfortable and relaxed while convincing them to do the deal because “it was a good piece of business”.
    He will be greatly missed, deepest condolences to Leone, Mike/Ruth, Dan and the rest of the family.

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  6. Diana Verbeek Munro :

    I remember so many times being at the O’Byrne house in Scarboro. It was such a welcoming home filled with excitement and laughter. Tricia’s friends were many and we often descended there and were always welcomed my her parents. I remember thinking it was almost like that Walton’s family on tv. So much love for one another. What a beautiful precious gift to have that as his legacy. My deepest condolences and prayers for you all.

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  7. Greg Van Tighem :

    Scarboro O’Byrne’s
    My sincere condolences to all of you on the passing of Mr O’Byrne.
    Right now the first memory that come to mind is the old community hall, skating rink with rotten wood floors and wood stove. It was between periods of a pee we hockey game, my dad and a few others were out shoveling the snow off the rink and Mr O’Byrne was getting all us kids to take are skates off and rubbing life back into our frozen toes all the while encouraging us to play hard and have fun.
    I will never forget the road trips in the old blue and white Ford Van ( before seatbelts) Mike might remember that old Ford Van (one night on 17th ave,) lol.
    Mr O’Byrne was truly an inspiration and the most positive role model to all us kids growing up in Scarboro.
    He was and to this day has been a constant influence in my life,
    I am saddened by his passing but happy to have felt his positive influence to not only me and my family but so many more people.
    RIP Jim (I never called him Jim)
    A true gentleman, family man, coach and community ambassador, his legacy lives on forever in everyone that had the pleasure of knowing him!

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  8. Arlene Hamilton, Calgary :

    My deepest condolences to the entire O’Byrne family. Jim was one of the biggest influencer of today’s and many years past of the land aspect of the petroleum industry. It was my pleasure to know him personally and be present as he and Leone celebrated an anniversary some years ago. A lovely family whose parents set the best example for them. RIP Jim. You will be deeply missed.

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  9. Debbie Nash (nee Patterson) :

    Debbie and family
    I have great memories of the wonderful Mr. Obyrne! He was one of the best and I know he will be truly missed. Prayers of peace for you all during this painful time.

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  10. Dave & Shelley Froehlich :

    Dear Aunt Leone and family,
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. We reflect on the many Froehlich gatherings where Uncle Jim shared his love of life and family. Happy times and sad – weddings, reunions or funerals – he brought his unique style and wonderful sense of humor. May warm memories bring comfort now and always……

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  11. Ghislaine Cleiren :

    Dear Leone and family,
    Our deepest condolences to you all. I have good memories of Jim from my many visits to your home and the many CASEA get-togethers we had there.
    We will be out of town this coming weekend and unable to attend the funeral mass. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Wishing you strength and courage,
    Ghislaine Cleiren and Jan Sniekers.

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  12. A giant has been laid to rest.
    It is rare to have a soul connection with someone.
    I will always harbor the sense of him.
    Rest In Peace Jim.
    My sympathies to Leone and family.

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  13. My sincere condolences to Aunt Leone and all your family. Uncle Jim was a very special individual with an amazing talent to make you feel welcome and loved. His mastery of words and his wisdom captured your attention and I never wanted to miss what he had to say . He always built people up. I will continue to keep you all in my prayers durning this time of great loss. May he RIP.

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  14. Donna Jean Patterson :

    My Sincere Sympathy to the O’Byrne Family You have Lost Someone So Special .
    My Love and Prayers to all of you.
    May He Rest In Peace
    Sincerely Donna Patterson

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  15. Brian Burke-Gaffney :

    Mrs. O’Byrne, Mike, Dan & O’Byrne Girls & Your Family’s
    My heart goes out to all of You at this difficult time for Your Dad (Mr. O’Byrne). My memories of your Dad start with the rink at Scarboro in the winter with your Dad flooding and cleaning the ice and making sure there was a hockey program for all of us to participate in. In my own life I have been fortunate enough to experience some of the importance of what your Dad did for all of us. I also remember your Dad tinkering around always with a project on wearing his casuals and giving us advise and asking what we were getting into. Your Dad and Mom were also at some of my most important events in my life and for that I will always be grateful. My Love and Prayers to All of You. Brian Burke-Gaffney (Burke-Gaffney Family)

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  16. Peg and Nick Taylor :

    Our sympathy to all. We have spent many years in the CCD and business and realize what a gem Jim was.
    Sorry to miss funeral as we will be out of town.
    God Bless Peg and Nick

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  17. Lenni Werner-Schmidt :

    Dear Leone and Family. There are few, if any, that have left such a magnificent legacy as Jim has left with our CAPL land association. He will be truly missed. I have had the pleasure to personally know Jim and to have conducted land negotiations with him. It was widely known of and by Jim that he most often had the upper hand on wisdom, finesse and industry knowledge…yet he was always so very gracious in conducting his business and personal interactions. God bless you and sincere condolences in your loss. May Jim rest in eternal peace.

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  18. Stamatina (Tina) Ierakidis :

    Our deepest condolences to the O’Byrne family. My sisters and I have cherished memories of Mr. O’Bryne teaching us to ride our bikes, climb trees and put on skates while growing up in Sunalta.
    We are thinking of you at this difficult time.
    Sincerely, the Kolias Girls (Angela, Stamatina, Margaret and Vivian).

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  19. Shannon (O'Byrne) Normandeau :

    Hello everyone, My deepest sympathies to you all. Great Uncle Jim was a blessing to know in the small amounts of time we had there with him at the O’Byrne family reunions… in BC hot springs, then in Saskatoon, etc. I am thankful my parents made the effort to include us in those events – creating many memories and traditions. Also sharing in the Notre Dame way of life, which we all hold dear to us. Again, my thoughts are with you in this time of loss. As losing a great man, is never easy – but I’m sure you are comforted knowing he lived a great life like he mentioned. But still not easy to ever say goodbye to someone so dear to you all. Hugs from Ste. Anne MB.
    Love, Bob & Shannon (O’Byrne) Normandeau
    Daughter of Allan O’Byrne

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  20. My sincerest condolences to the O’Byrne family on the passing of Jim. As one of the teachers and coaches of his daughters, I always knew that I could count on his support. The same could be said in his role as a Trustee. Men like Jim will truly be missed.
    My thoughts and prayers will be with you at this difficult time.

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  21. Jim was a guru, leader, volunteer, and man that showed his professionalism and strong values every time we met, worked together and spoke.

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  22. I had the pleasure of working directly with Jim over the latter ten years of our careers. Jim was a constant voice of reason and I turned to his advice often as we served on a Board of Directors. Jim’s negotiating skills were legendary whilst his underlining goal was a good deal for all. He will be missed as a patriarch of the industry and of his family whom he loved so dearly. My condolences to the entire O’Byrne family. Well done Jim, Well done.

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  23. Joanne O'Byrne1 :

    My sincere condolences on the death of Jim. I will always have fond memories of Jim – and what a legacy.
    It was always a pleasure to be in his company – such a witty sense of humor, so generous and yet humble.
    I know that Bob would feel a great deal of sadness by Jim’s death.
    My sincere sympathy to all of you.
    With prayers & blessings,

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  24. Leone and family
    Sue and I offer our sincere and deep condolences to the O’Byrne family. Jim was a wonderful neighbour of ours and we will miss him. I will continue to enjoy a cup of coffee on our preferred picnic table across from both of our houses and I will reflect on Jim’s wisdom and wonderful sense of humour
    May our God wrap his arms around this wonderful soul

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  25. Erika Carrasco and Jennifer Marshall, Field Law :

    Our deepest condolences to the O’Byrne family. We were deeply saddened by Jim’s passing. He was an amazing person we all admired. He will be missed by those of us who had the good fortune to have worked with him over the past year at the firm.

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  26. Jim was a great mentor to me and a wonderful father figure for us all. My thoughts and prayers are with him and the whole O’Byrne family.

    Jim Moore

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  27. Dear Mrs. O’Byrne, Mike & Ruth… Dan and All the family,
    My sincere condolences to you all. When I think of the O’Byrne home…there are
    many fond memories of our high school days and how welcomed all us kids were at any time. There was an ever openness and love. Many a New Year’s party was celebrated there…and to that I will always be grateful. Only parents who loved us kids would grant that to happen. Mike & Dan, your Dad was a great man and lived his life to the fullest. Take care of your Mama…and your siblings and families, at this very sad time…remember all the good times, remember your Dad’s legacy and may it guide you and fill you, to carry it forward into the future. Sending prayers of comfort and strength to you all. Jhulsz Emily aka (Julie Gendron)

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  28. Gary Montgomery :

    Our thoughts and prayers are with all members of the O’Byrne family. Jim was a mentor , teacher and an inspiration to so many of us in the land profession. His leadership in the petroleum industry was exemplary. He will be missed but never forgotten.
    Gary & Carolyn Montgomery

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  29. Hesther Stables Fofonoff :

    Jim is a legend.

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