Rhuben R. (Ray) Byrd -- government chauffeur, son of a Virginia sharecropper, and brand-new millionaire -- is going to take his wife to the Grand Ole Opry and Disneyland.
William P. Walsh -- retired from an Army career of 21 years, with 20 more years in government service, and also a millionaire -- is going to get his '75 Plymouth fixed and may buy a new pair of shoes because the ones he wore yesterday had holes in them.
Byrd and Walsh, old Army buddies and now neighbors in Woodbridge, yesterday picked up their first checks -- $63,630 each, the initial installment on their jointly won $3.18 million D.C. Lottery winnings -- the second-highest prize won in the lottery's 3 1/2-year history.
"Nothing exciting ever happened to me before," Byrd said. In federal government service for 34 years, he said he probably will not quit his job but will wait until he is eligible for early retirement this summer when he turns 55.
Byrd and Walsh for years have met each Saturday in a Woodbridge restaurant to pool $5 each to buy D.C. and Maryland lottery tickets together. They had the winning "quick pick" Lotto number -- 03-13-19-25-35-36 -- chosen at last Wednesday night's D.C. Lucky Lotto Jackpot drawing. No one had a winning ticket for 19 prior weeks, boosting the award above $3 million, according to a lottery spokeswoman.
"I just thought, 'It can't be true,' " Byrd said, when he looked at the winning number in Thursday morning's paper. Walsh, who didn't know the number on the ticket Byrd had bought for them, "didn't believe me for two days," Byrd added.
"He bulls so much, I didn't believe him," Walsh confirmed.
Byrd went to work as usual last Thursday, drove a dignitary to National Airport, and then went to a bank where he put the winning ticket in a safe-deposit box.
Walsh, 59, said he will use the money to help out his five grown children and three grandchildren, fix up his house and pay off his mortgage. He sees no reason to buy a new car as long as he can get the '75 Plymouth fixed, and he has no immediate plans to quit his job as a management analyst for the federal government.
"I could work a couple more years. It wouldn't hurt me at all," he told reporters.
Byrd, who has three children, plans to set up a trust fund for college educations for his five grandchildren, saying, "I don't want them to grow up as dumb as I did." He also said he would help his children with their house payments, because they bought at a time when interest rates were high.
Beyond that, he and his wife, Helen, who manages a school cafeteria, will do the traveling they have longed for.
A record $3.4 million lottery award was won in August by Pasquale and Lynda Romano of Herndon. Byrd and Walsh will split $3,181,525, to be given to them in 20 annual installments.
The two winners yesterday went to Gillies 21 Liquors, at 2101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, where Byrd had bought the winning ticket, to receive their first installment. Twenty percent of their payment was withheld for federal taxes.
Walsh reacted to getting the check by saying, "Wowee," and planting a playful kiss on Byrd's forehead.
Byrd, after registering a skeptical look at his friend, responded, "Okay, Bill, let's go get drunk." CAPTION: Picture, Ray Byrd and Bill Walsh display their first checks, for $63,630 each, as $3.18 million winners in the D.C. Lottery.