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Obituary: Lala Jean Byrd Isom, Columbus

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Lala Jean Byrd Isom

Lala Jean Byrd Isom, 83, passed from this life Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in Columbus. She was a beloved mother and grandmother and accomplished businesswoman.

Lala was born on July 24, 1930, in Casey County, Ky., to Noah and Dorothy (Hughes) Wethington.

In 1948, she graduated from Greenwood High School in Greenwood.

She married Carl E. Byrd, who is deceased. She married Rolland E. Isom on April 21, 1976.

In 1952, Lala co-founded the Kustard Kitchen Drive-In in Greenwood, with Carl E. Byrd. Lala was approached by Colonel Harland Sanders to sell his chicken at her drive-in and became a charter member of Kentucky Fried Chicken. She co-owned and operated Byrd Enterprises, which had franchises of Kentucky Fried Chicken and H. Salt Fish & Chips, a subsidiary of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Later, she owned and operated Isom Enterprises with her husband, Rolland, and had Kentucky Fried Chicken stores in Brownsburg and Danville.

Lala was a real estate investor, owning and managing properties in Hendricks, Johnson and Bartholomew counties. Since 1956, she was a Realtor.

Lala was known for her fashion and style. She was a model at the Wm. H. Block and L.S. Ayres department stores in Indianapolis and Walker’s department store. She was also first runner-up in the National Restaurant Association beauty contest.

Lala owned late model race cars and had a car compete at the Daytona Speedway.

Lala attended Indiana Girls State and was a supporter of the organization throughout her life. She was a member of the Gideons International Auxiliary. She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, First Presbyterian Church and the Rural Homemakers Club. She was a supporter of the Columbus Symphony.

Lala is survived by her husband, Rolland; her daughter, Janeen M. (Richard L.) Sprague of Columbus; daughter-in-law, Virginia Byrd (widow of Lala’s son, Jonathan E. Byrd); and grandchildren, Nicholas L. Sprague of Columbus, David N. (Jewel) Byrd of Litchfield Park, Ariz., and Jonathan E. (Abigail) Byrd II of Greenwood. She also is survived by great-grandchildren, Jonathan E. Byrd III and Evelyn R. Byrd of Greenwood, Geneva Byrd, Noah Byrd and Nathan Byrd of Litchfield Park, Ariz., Ashleyanna Byrd of Phoenix and Taryn Byrd of Anchorage, Alaska. A stepson, Michael (Denise) Isom of Monrovia, and a stepdaughter, Rena (Danny) Pierson of Indianapolis, also survive.

Lala was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, Levi Wethington; a sister-in-law, Ann Wethington; and a son, Jonathan E. Byrd.

The funeral will be conducted at 1 p.m. Monday at Barkes, Weaver & Glick Funeral Home, 1029 Washington St., Columbus, with the Rev. Scott Hill officiating. Family and friends may call from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and from noon to time of service Monday at the funeral home. A graveside service will be conducted at 3 p.m. Monday at Forest Lawn Memory Gardens in Greenwood. Following the graveside service, family and friends are invited for a gathering at the Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis/Greenwood at Interstate 65 and County Line Road, exit 101.

Online condolences may be sent to the Isom family at


Memorial contributions can be made to the American Legion Auxiliary — Hoosier Girls State, 777 N. Meridian St., Room 107, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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