Andy Byars finds the life he always wanted here in Jasper
by Al Blanton | Image by Blakeney Clouse
Andy Byars realizes he could have carved out a life pretty much anywhere, but he chose to come back home and live in Jasper. Many folks his age might have thought that coming back to Jasper was some form of “settling.” Andy has quite a different perspective.
Between his work, his home, and his church life, Andy has found his version of paradise here in Jasper. He’s discovered, however, that a busy life requires being intentional about quality time with his family.
Every morning during the week, the Byars family is rushing out the door. Andy and his wife, Samantha, are hurrying to their respective jobs and their two girls, Norra and Eliza, are leaving for preschool. “So mornings are hectic,” Andy says.
Because there is so little space on the weekdays for family time, weekends serve as respite for Andy’s harried life. After the gruel of a long workweek, Andy values the precious time he spends with his family on Saturdays. “We wake up as a family and we can eat breakfast as a family and we are not rushed,” he says. “We’re big on eating meals as a family. Eating at the table, whether it’s dinner or breakfast. During the week, the morning is always rushed. Saturdays you don’t have that rush. It’s very relaxed, no agenda. You just have a good time and hang out with the family.”
For Andy, Saturdays may look differently, depending on the season. In the summers, he enjoys taking his family to Musgrove Country Club, where the girls can splash in the pool, where Andy can play golf or the family can dine in the rustic dining hall. In the fall, he loves grilling out in his backyard and entertaining friends while the football game is on. Nights, he might build a fire in the outdoor fireplace where the family will cozy around. Sundays are always the same, no matter the season. It’s church in the morning and an afternoon of relaxation.
It isn’t uncommon for the whole family to collect in the downstairs living room, where the kids will be splayed out on the floor watching TV or playing with toys, and Mom and Dad might join them. “Our kids are fun. We love hanging out with them. I know everybody says that, but I truly do. I love hanging out with my family,” Andy says.
Work-wise, coming home to help with the family business that’s been insuring Walker Countians for generations fit Andy like a glove. In fact, he works from the very same desk where his grandfather once worked, and carrying on the tradition of Byars|Wright Insurance and the family name carries special importance to him. “I think about the tradition that we’ve had, from my granddad to my dad and uncle Steve,” he said. “I love the history of it, having that support system. We’ve always been an extremely close family.”
Because the company is growing at such a rapid pace, there is some travel involved in his work, but Andy truly enjoys meeting new people and learning about the varied businesses all over the state of Alabama. “From a work standpoint, the office is growing significantly,” he said. “I’m in Birmingham a decent amount; I’m here a decent amount. And I’m extremely busy. But I love my work.”
Behind the noise and distractions of a frenzied week, there is a rhythm to Andy’s life—an order, if you will—that he finds through his Christian faith. “Sam and I talk a lot about what our priorities are in life and we break it down to three things: God is first, family is second, work is third. That’s very important to us. That’s how it’s going to be. We don’t want it any other way because ultimately, God is the most important thing to us, and we try in every way we can to teach our girls that,” he said.
While he recognizes that other towns may have more to offer in terms of frills and things to do, Andy feels most at home in Jasper. “I’ve always loved Jasper. It was home, but I like a small town feel,” he said. “I like going in places and knowing everybody. That’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed. Some people like going into a restaurant in Birmingham and not knowing anybody. That’s well and good, but I like being able to go into a place, see a lot of people I know and talk to them.
“For what I want in life, it’s perfect for me.” 78