By BLAIR AMES
The Frederick News-Post
EMMITSBURG, Md. (AP) — Byron Stay thought he would grow up to be a professional trumpet player.
But after he was drafted in 1970, he joined the U.S. Army band and thought to himself, “What would I like to be doing in 13 years?”
His answer: “Leading a discussion on `Ulysses’ by James Joyce.”
He followed that desire to a career. After 32 years teaching argument, creative writing, freshman and senior seminar, and public speaking at Mount St. Mary’s University, Stay will retire at the end of the spring semester.
“I still feel like the new kid on the block,” he said.
Stay created the university’s writing center when he was hired in 1980 and has served as chairman of the communications department and associate academic dean.
“It’s just starting to sink in,” he said of not returning for a 33rd year.
With the college implementing a new core curriculum, Stay decided it was time to retire.
Plus, he wanted to retire while he was still running marathons, he said.
His goal is to run the Boston Marathon when he is 80.
Stay, 64, estimates he has about 20 years left of running marathons. He just qualified for Boston at the Richmond Marathon on Nov. 12 by completing 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 49 minutes.
The Boston qualifying time for his age bracket is 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Stay started running in ninth grade. In his 30s, he realized the longer the distance, the better he ran. He has since run 18 marathons and did not rule out entering the JFK 50-mile ultramarathon in Washington County.
“I think I’d probably be good at it,” he said.
He typically runs six days a week, clocking 35 to 45 miles a week while training for a marathon, with a long day consisting of 10 miles.
“The only reason to do 20 is so you know you can do the distance,” he said. “I already know I can.”
Originally from Tacoma, Wash., Stay received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy before enrolling at the University of Delaware, where he earned his master’s degree in English.
While backpacking with a friend along the Appalachian Trail during his time at Delaware, he fell in love with the scenery between Baltimore and Frederick.
“I love Maryland,” he said. “I have no intention of leaving.”
Throughout running marathons, his teaching career and traveling, Stay never gave up his trumpet.
In fact, trumpet-playing led him to his wife.
His niece asked Stay to play at her wedding in March 1999. His future wife, Claire, was the organist.
They hit it off immediately and were married Jan. 1, 2000. The couple performs weekly at Zion United Church of Christ in Hagerstown and monthly at the Frederick Seventh-day Adventist Church. They have also played at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, where they were booked five years in advance after submitting an audition CD.
“She’s the finest musician I’ve ever played with,” Stay said of his wife.
In his retirement, Stay plans to keep playing the trumpet, running and visiting one of the few countries he has not been to: New Zealand.
“We’re going to do that,” he said.
Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)