Friends, colleagues remember Guy Bilyeu - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Friends, colleagues remember Guy Bilyeu

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The Chattanooga community and the animal rescue community are mourning the sudden loss of the Humane Educational Society's executive director, Guy Bilyeu. Bilyeu passed away Saturday from injuries he received in a bicycle accident last week, when he fell and hit his head.

He was a champion for animals. Bilyeu was with the Humane Educational Society for 10 years. Those who knew him well and worked closely with him, say they are still processing this sudden loss.

"It was so abrupt. Basically, he was just as fit as the rest of us and he was just out for a bike ride. So the sudden nature of it is really the biggest shock," says Dr. Tai Federico.

Federico is the president of the board of directors for the Chattanooga Humane Educational Society. He says Bilyeu turned the HES into the successful operation it is today.

"He was the key man that allowed the Humane Society to go from its darkest days to its brightest days in just a few years," he says.

Bilyeu started a program at HES to end euthanasia for "treatable, adoptable and trainable animals."

"We will do anything to help animals," said Bilyeu, in a previous interview with Channel 3.

He was not only a friend of the animals, but also a friend to Channel 3. He would often appear on our programming to help dogs and cats find a good home.

"Every year, incredible people from this community donate because we're trying to get our animals a home for Christmas," he said in a December 2012 interview.

"He was just one of the most warmest, genuine people I have ever known," says Federico.

"Guy was very charming. He was really fun to work with on a lot of things. He had a great way of delivering his message so that people really felt what he felt for the animals," says Karen Walsh.

Karen Walsh is the executive director for McKamey Animal Shelter. She says Bilyeu's passion may be unmatched, but she and others say they will work hard to make sure his efforts continue.

"I hope that he looks down on us in Chattanooga and is there to help us so that we can continue on the mission that we're all on to be a wonderful place for animals," says Walsh.

"We are going to work as hard as we can to make sure that his legacy, the good work he has done in Chattanooga continues and grows going forward," says Federico.

Bilyeu was 54 years old.

Visitation will be held at Hamilton Funeral Home in Hixson, Tuesday, from 2-8 p.m. A graveside service will be held at noon on Wednesday at Chattanooga Memorial Park.

Bilyeu's family asks in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Humane Society in his honor.

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