On December 6 , 2016 , Dubuque lost one of its greatest treasures – author Robert “ Bob ” Byrne passed away .
Many in Dubuque knew Bob personally . Millions around the world knew him through his books , whether it was about billiards ( his avocation ), some thriller involving engineering ( his vocation ), or growing up Catholic in Dubuque in the 1940s ( his religious inclination – at least as a youngster ).
On May 22 , 1930 , Tom and Clara Byrne welcomed Robert Leo Byrne to the family , which already boasted three boys . His Catholic instruction began at St . Columbkille ’ s elementary school , a few blocks from the family home on State St . and the inspiration for St . Procopius School in Memories of a Non-Jewish Childhood .
At the age of 12 , he embarked on his career as a pool hustler when he won 85 cents from the gas meter reader in a game of eight-ball on his family ’ s basement pool table . Since then he has won numerous awards and prizes for his skill and is recognized the world over as the preeminent teacher and commentator in the world of pool and billiards .
He subsequently went to Loras Academy and Loras College before transferring to Iowa State University . While there he edited a humor column in the school newspaper , displaying another of the talents that would later become apparent in many of his books . He transferred again to the University of Colorado where he edited Flatiron , the school ’ s humor magazine , and graduated in 1954 with a degree in Civil Engineering . That same year he was hired by the City and County of San Francisco Department of Engineering , Bureau of Public Works , Division of Highways as a junior civil engineer .
A year later , he went to work for Western Construction magazine as a reporter for the heavy construction industry and in 1961 was named editor , a position he held until 1971 .