Cover photo for Fiona  Attwell Byrne Visser's Obituary
Fiona  Attwell Byrne Visser Profile Photo

Fiona Attwell Byrne Visser

March 3, 1927 — August 26, 2022

Fiona Attwell Byrne Visser

Fiona Attwell Byrne Visser passed away peacefully on August 26, 2022, after a lengthy illness. She was born on March 3, 1927 in Buenos Aires [B.A.], Argentina, the daughter of Scottish emigrees. Fiona grew up speaking English with a slight Scottish burr, which would later delight the congregations of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, where she was often a Reader. She attended both private and public schools, where she learned Spanish. She became fluent in both languages and later was certified for simultaneous translation work in the Chicago court system.

She and her second husband, Philip Visser, were both members of the Dutch social community in B.A. before WWII, when they were teen-agers. She recalled watching Philip board a troop ship bound for England and wondering if they would ever meet again. The war years passed and each married other partners and reared their children--he in the US and she in Argentina.

Fiona later became one of the first women in Argentina to obtain a divorce. She took over the family business and brokered Scottish periscopes to the navies of the world. She was a thoroughly modern woman—with manners.

She is survived by her daughter, Magdalena Aria Byrne, who is married to Juan Jose Yapur. Fiona’s two sons are Jaimie Eduarde Mac Alpine Byrne and Juan Nicolas Byrne, whose wife is Claudia Stancato. They all live in Buenas Aires. There are also 7 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Fiona always considered Philip’s daughter, Barbara Visser and her husband Michael Cronin of Alameda County, CA to be part of her blended family. They have 3 children and 4 grandchildren.

Four decades passed before Philip and Fiona met again at a party in B.A. She later described it as seeming as if they had never been separated. They were married in 1980 in Chicago where Philip was in business. Poised and elegant, Fiona had never faced the mundane American tasks of cooking or driving. There had been no need in B.A. She tackled learning both skills with curiosity and humor. Her early cooking disasters were legendary. She once cooked a Thanksgiving turkey for 24 hours and it still came out raw. Another day she roasted a watermelon that she thought was a squash. She took driving lessons, but could never orient herself geographically to being in the northern hemisphere. She frequently got lost.

While she always rose to every occasion, Fiona’s friends remember her best as a bilingual reader and book collector. Her artistic talents led to watercoloring and creating a lovely home.

A celebration of this remarkable lady’s life was held in the Memorial Garden of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Hot Springs Village, AR on Sept. 3, 2022.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Fiona Attwell Byrne Visser, please visit our flower store.

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