Lessons from my Olympic Dad-Byron Krieger

My Dad, Byron Krieger, was a two-time Olympic fencer.

He also competed in the Pan American games, the Maccabi games, and many regional/national tournaments. He’s in 3 Hall of Fames.

Dad never boasted about any of this. Growing up, my siblings and I enjoyed hearing stories of his fencing days. He was clearly proud, yet his accolades were most often relayed to us by our uncles and mother. Years later, we’d learn even more about his accomplishments through reading newspaper clippings. 

Dad’s trophies and medals lined our living room. I liked to read the plaques and run my hands over the golden fencer figure on top.

Our friends were impressed, though we usually had to explain the sport of fencing had nothing to do with backyard boundaries. Once the kids heard about swords, their eyes would pop. “Did he ever kill anyone?”


A portrait of my father wearing his Olympic uniform hung in our family room. I’m sure my mom put it up.

Throughout our childhood, our father’s quiet but powerful presence emanated from this painting.

It’s funny how family pictures can become part of the background noise that you don’t even notice, until one day, after not having seen it for many years, everything comes back. 

Now, I can feel the weight of expectation, mostly unspoken, yet fully absorbed:

Work hard. Strive for excellence. Never give up. Face your fears.

Once, as a teen, one of my brothers asked Dad if he could wear his Olympic warmup jacket that hung in our front closet. His answer, delivered with a smile, surprised us. “No, because you didn’t earn it.”

Today, our father’s jacket is displayed in the Museum of Fencing

There were other ingrained lessons, too, mainly taught by example, lessons I still try to live by.

*Be the better person

*Avoid gossip

*Be kind.

*Don’t hold grudges.

*Treat all people with respect.

*Practice good sportsmanship especially when you lose.

*Deflect uncomfortable conversations with humor. 

*Admit and learn from mistakes.

*Don’t complain

*Be proud of your heritage


To honor his legacy, I created the Byron Krieger athletic scholarship for talented students who embody Dad’s values. 

Gabriella Hirsch

One of the special outcomes of this endeavor was hearing from children and grandchildren of Dad’s Olympic teammates.

The inscription on my father’s gravestone reads: Humble Champion.

The short phrase sums up a long and abundant life. ~

Author: EvelynKrieger

I'm a people watcher and word crafter, author of fiction and essays. I also blog on living the creative life during hard times. When not writing, I work as a private educational consultant. Special interests: dance, the moon, astronauts, beaches, poetry, staying alive.

17 thoughts on “Lessons from my Olympic Dad-Byron Krieger”

  1. Your dad sounds like he was a great father and person to know. It’s really kind of you to offer scholarships to athletes. You are amazing, Evelyn! Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I fenced at NYU in the early seventies, one of our team, Peter Westbrook went on to fence Saber in the Olympics, and today still host the Peter Westbrook Foundation to help kids through athletics and education. You must be very proud of you Dad !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. it takes a great daughter to assimilate these lessons so wisely! well said! would love if you’d contribute a guest blog post for my site. if you’re interested, please email me at ContactdaAL at gmail dot com

    Like

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