Dennis Michael Byars, 81, died peacefully at his home on Thursday, April 14, 2022. Dennie was born August 23, 1940 to Preston R. and F. Ione (Penny) Byars in Beatrice, NE. He graduated from Beatrice Senior High School in 1958 and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1958-1961). Dennie was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the National Guard and served from 1958 to 1968. On April 10, 1981, Dennie married Janet Busboom at St. John Lutheran Church in Beatrice, NE. They made their lifelong home at the southwest corner of Eighth and Summit, where they raised their two sons, Mark and Jonathan.\nDennie began his professional years as a salesman with A. Palmer Furniture (1962-1972), where he worked with his father, and owned ERA Collins-Byars Real Estate Agency (1977-1982). He was active in Sertoma, the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce, Gage County Economic Development Corp. (now NGage), and numerous other organizations. He moved twice to Colorado to start retail businesses - to Estes Park (1972-76) and later to Steamboat Springs (1983-85) - but Beatrice was the home in his heart. In 1986, Dennie started a 15-year career as a development officer and governmental affairs director with the Martin Luther Homes, (now Mosaic), where he found his passion in advocacy for persons with developmental disabilities. In 2001, Dennie became the Executive Director of the Beatrice Community Hospital Foundation until his retirement in 2010.\nDennie dedicated much of his life to public service. He was grateful to the people of Beatrice and Gage County for allowing him to serve and was elected to various positions 11 times. He proudly served in elected office for 38 years over the course of seven decades, as Justice of the Peace (1969-1972), Beatrice Board of Education member (1972), Gage County Board of Supervisors member (1977-1983, 2009-2022), and as Gage County's longest-serving Nebraska State Senator (1988-1994, 1999-2006). He viewed his service as an opportunity to help others and promote the community he loved, and he cherished the relationships he built along the way. His volunteer work extended beyond public office to service on the boards of Region V Systems and Services, the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association, the Nebraska ELCA Synod Council, and many others. He was a longtime member of St. John's Lutheran Church and was currently a member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church.\nDennie loved Beatrice basketball, walking his dog (Joey), vacations to the family condo in Estes, Hershey's milk chocolate nuggets, and his evening treat of butterscotch pudding. He loved the kids in the neighborhood and would frequently say, "The kids are outside playing, I think I'll take a walk." He enthusiastically cheered for Nebraska football, using his booming voice to boost the team when they needed it. Dennie delighted in spending time with his five grandchildren, and always looked forward to their hugs and telling them a joke. More than anything, Dennie enjoyed being out and about in the town he loved - flashing his smile, shaking your hand, and sharing an encouraging word to brighten your day. He was once asked, "If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?" His reply was, "Beatrice. I want to be able to walk down the street and see and visit with the people I know."\nDennie is survived by his wife, Janet (Busboom) Byars of Beatrice; his sons, Mark (Nicki) of Omaha, NE and Jonathan (Chantal) of Denver, CO; his grandchildren, Macy and Spencer Byars of Omaha, NE, and Reagan, Chandler, and Adeline Byars of Denver, CO; his brothers, Rev. Dr. Ronald (Susan) Byars of Lexington, KY, and Dr. Steven (Donna) Byars of Lee's Summit, MO; his sister-in-law, Judy (Randy) Fischer of Beatrice; and his nephews Steven Byars, Matthew Byars, Michael Byars, Andrew Byars, Paul Brinkman and Jason Brinkman and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents, Preston R. and F. Ione (Penny) Byars and his parents-in-law, Jerry and Dorothy (Zimmerman) Busboom.\nFuneral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at St. John's Lutheran Church of Beatrice with Pastor Kathee Forrest and Pastor Megan Morrow officiating. The service will be live streamed on the church's Facebook page and web page. A family prayer service will be held at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at the church. The body will lie in state from 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Monday at the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice and at the church one hour preceding the service on Tuesday. Burial will be at the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery with military honors provided by Bitting-Norman Post #27, American Legion, United States Army National Guard, and the Legion Riders. A memorial has been established to Mosaic - Beatrice Program; Region V Foundation, and Nebraska Synod, ELCA, with Dr. Dave and Mickey Gleason and John and Barb Rypma in charge. Sign Dennis' online guest book at www.ghchapel.com.\nThese services have been entrusted to the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice.