Monday, June 25, 2012

Yuma Joe Byrnes , Joe Frank Byrnes, Joe Byrnes Was the Sweetest Man I Ever Met

I found out yesterday Joe died.  He died on June 21, 2012.  I am not sure yet if it was suicide or accidental. Yuma Joe Byrnes was probably the sweetest man I have met in my life. A gentle soul. He was the drummer of the band, Broken Horse, Tarnation, and countless others.
A couple of years ago, my brother told me Joe landed in jail for killing his dog. My brother said Joe heard voices telling him to do it. After he did it, Joe brought the dog inside a church. This was where he was arrested. This was in San Francisco where Joe has lived for more than 20 years.

I heard the judge let him off on the condition he had to get psychiatric help. I do not know if he did or anything from then on. I sent him a message on Facebook telling him to come back to Tucson where life was easier and rent was cheap. I never heard back.
I am waiting for his good friend Alex to call me with the exact details. I am hoping it was an accident. I do not want to think about the despair sweet Joe might have been feeling. I am sure the guilt of killing his beloved dog was always with him. Joe would not hurt a fly under normal circumstances.

There are so many good medications out there that make the voices go away. Folks can lead a normal life on these meds. I work for a behavioral health agency in town. I see the wonders of the right medications daily.   Another thing that would work wonders is removing the stigma of a diagnosis of a mental illness in our culture.  A person with the diagnosis of diabetes can lead a normal and productive life with insulin.  A person with a diagnosis of a mental illness can lead a normal and productive life with the right medication and therapy. 

Having auditory hallucinations is one of many symptoms for a diagnosis of
schizophrenia. This is what I think happened to Joe. Most likely broken dreams, the pain of remembering his dog, and life in general added to his distress. The gentle and sweet ones usually cannot take this world that can be so cruel at times.
This photo of Joe with the motorcycle is the only one that is mine.  He gave it to me while he was in Tucson for my brother's first wedding in 1994.  Joe and I went out after the wedding and reception.  We went to the Hotel Congress and saw the Meat Puppets.  The next day we went on a drive through Gates Pass and beyond.  It was a perfect day.  Sweet Joe.   You will be missed.


Lisa r. Miller said...

Dear Mary, Thank you so much for your words of compassion and pictures of the kind friend I loved so much and one of the gentlest, most creative souls I ever knew. I only found out this afternoon that he was gone and the loss breaks my heart. My deepest condolences to you and all his family and friends back home.

I would very much care to send a card to his family; if you know how I can reach them, you can email me privately at:

Mary Cuevas said...

Hi Lisa,
Did you read the article in SF Weekly? Please read the comments his friends are leaving. Do you know Alex? He is one of his oldest friends. I am going to text him and let him know you want his familiy's address.

It is heartbreaking. He was so good. So sweet.

Naoki Onodera said...

I loved Joe ! He treated and support me as an artist.