When Stacy Strickland helped create the South Central Motorcoach Association’s J.H. Byrd Outstanding Service Award, she never imagined she would be the first recipient. The award is dedicated to the memory of her father, a founding member of Louisiana’s motorcoach industry.
It was created to honor individuals in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi who support the motorcoach industry by promoting safe and compliant operations and being a political advocate for issues affecting the industry on a local, regional, and national level.
“I got overwhelmed when my name was called,” said Strickland, who cried as she gave her acceptance speech. “A lot of people love my dad. I was really honored.”
Strickland, president of Salter Bus Lines Inc./Salter Trailways, in Jonesboro, Louisiana, received the award in July during SCMA’s regional meeting in Springdale, Arkansas.
Family history in the industry
Strickland comes from a multi-generation transportation family. Her great great-grandfather Robert Thomas Salter partnered and started Salter Bus Lines in the early 1900s. In 1971, at the age of 18, her dad started his career alongside his mother, Philodean Salter Byrd, eventually taking over ownership of the 100-year-old Salter Bus Lines/Salter Trailways.
Following in his family’s footsteps, J.H. Byrd continued a daily line run until the 1990s. A member of Trailways since 2000, Salter originally provided daily, intercity, fixed-route line run services and later shifted to charter bus service. Salter held the oldest operating authority number in Louisiana.
Byrd was a founding member of the Louisiana Motorcoach Association, launched in January 2005. He was instrumental in the addition of state members to the current SCMA and was a long-standing member of the United Motorcoach Association. He also served on various boards throughout his extensive career. The U.S. military has recognized Salter several times as an outstanding transportation company.
“My dad was a friend to everyone who crossed his path,” Strickland said. “He was full of knowledge about maintaining and operating a motorcoach. He worked hard on keeping the transit agencies from operating a private charter service. If you ever took the time to speak to him, you would leave knowing he was an advocate of the motorcoach industry.”
Byrd devoted 51 years of his life to his business and the industry, says his daughter.
“I learned everything from him,” said Strickland.
Her career detour
She stepped away from the business to attend nursing school but left when she became pregnant.
“I ended up losing my daughter,” she said. “I just took a little time off, and then my dad got cancer, so he called me and asked me if I would come run the business while he was doing treatments. I said, sure.”
That was 2003. Byrd got better, Strickland stayed, and she worked by his side for another 20 years.
He was her best friend. The two were inseparable.
“They used to call me little J. H. because I was his right-hand man,” Strickland said.
Strickland’s nursing training didn’t go to waste. She says it’s been helpful in keeping her steady during high-stress situations that can send others into a panic. Her emotions catch up to her later when things are calm again.
“I’m usually really steady at the moment and have a take-charge kind of personality,” Strickland said.
Byrd died in August 2022 at age 69.
When SCMA began thinking about creating a legacy award, then-president Tom Skinner, with Cline Tours in Ridgeland, Mississippi, suggested naming it after Byrd.
“My dad was really loved by pretty much everybody that he ever met. He was just one of those guys that you meet and you leave being his friend,” Strickland said.