Keith H. Byington taught at the MU School of Medicine, was devoted to education

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 | 6:12 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Dr. Keith Harlan Byington, who grew up on a family farm in northern Iowa and went on to teach at MU's School of Medicine, was devoted to education throughout his life.

Dr. Byington of Columbia died Tuesday, April 1, 2014. He was 79.

He was born March 14, 1935, in Plymouth, Iowa. He spent his early life working on his family farm.

He attended Union Number Seven, a small rural elementary school in Worth County, Iowa, and graduated from high school in Plymouth, Iowa. Dr. Byington then attended Mason City Junior College, where he met his wife.

Dr. Byington married Nancy Jeanne Code in Nashua, Iowa, in 1955.

He continued his education at the University of Iowa where he received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1958. He went on to receive a master's degree in physiology and a doctorate in pharmacology from the University of South Dakota in 1964.

Dr. Byington worked in postdoctoral research between 1964 and 1968 at the University of Florida and the University of Wisconsin. 

In 1968, he joined the Medical Pharmacology and Physiology Department at the MU School of Medicine as an associate professor. He taught and conducted research for 45 years, and he tutored first-year medical students in the Problem-Based Learning curriculum between 1994 and 2013. He retired in December.

He is remembered for loving his family, research, education and his garden. He became a member of the M. Graham Clark Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in May of 2011, former president Russ DeVenney said.

J.Y. Miller II, current president of the M. Graham Clark chapter, said people always had nice things to say about Dr. Byington.

"He was a gentle and kind man," Miller said.

Dr. Byington is survived by his wife, Nancy; his four children and their spouses, Jay and Pat Byington, Pamela and Daniel Mertz, Bill and Tammy Byington, and Ann and Mike Krohn; eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and a sister, Katherine Kearns.

His parents and four brothers died earlier.

Dr. Byington's family held a private family service per his request. The family will receive those wishing to pay their respects from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at 302 Westridge Drive.

Memorial contributions can be made to the ALS Research Foundation, 1275 K Street, NW, Suite 250, Washington, D.C. 20005.

Condolences can be posted at

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.