Words can’t express how much this wonderful man will be missed here on Earth. How much I am missing him. Uncle Boyd was truly one of a kind. A Renaissance man with so many God given talents and a fun loving personality to go with those talents.
He loved children and always made sure they were included, going out of his way to make sure they felt special and were recognized. He got down on their level (which wasn’t easy to do with his tall stature) and softly spoke to them instead of at them. I loved seeing him interact with my mini me. Although they only met a few times, I have pleasant memories of my daughter laughing at her Great Uncle Boyd’s jovial antics. And as a mother, I appreciated the authentic connection he made with her.
Uncle Boyd was a wordsmith. And when he spoke I hung onto every word! I can think of nothing I loved more than sitting in a comfy chair in his living room and listening to Uncle Boyd share his thoughts on education and learning. He was so well read, so well spoken…a brilliant mind! I always walked away from one of those conversations enlightened, looking at things in a new light and feeling more optimistic for the future. And like all great teachers, he never stopped learning. He constantly sought new experiences, studied and acknowledged differences and was willingly open to challenging himself. You would always find him reading a new book or two, often one for pleasure but always one or more on education reform or how the brain works or on how people learn. He never lectured “at you” but with his warm and gentle manner, guided you to think outside of yourself and to look at things in a different way. What a blessing those mini lectures were! What a blessing Uncle Boyd was to me and to my family of three! I truly am a better person because of him.
After my husband and I married and Uncle Boyd and Aunt Dixie became my new relations, I always made a point to meet up with them when I was in Minnesota for work. The educators I worked with would often comment how nice it was that I would take the time to visit my husband’s aunt and uncle but what they didn’t realize is I was the one benefiting from those visits! Uncle Boyd always asked me questions and he listened to me with interest and full concentration. When we were engaged in conversation I felt safe and carefree, as if the world and all of it’s problems were put on pause and the only thing of importance was our present conversation.
Uncle Boyd didn’t know a stranger. He was beloved everywhere he went. When I accompanied him to many of his favorite establishments (Punch Pizza, Nicollet Island Inn, Culver’s, just to make a few) he was given a personal greeting. Uncle Boyd always took the time to get to know others whether it be his neighbors, students, workers, church members or the servers at his favorite restaurants. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if Uncle Boyd could go anywhere without being recognized! When he and Aunt Dixie traveled to our wedding, a consultant friend of mine saw Uncle Boyd at breakfast and asked, “Dr. Purdom, what are you doing in southern IL?” He was one of her favorite college professors and she couldn’t believe I was marrying his nephew! Another time I was training teachers and happened to mention Uncle Boyd. Several teachers and an administrator commented how they had him as a professor and he had changed their views on child advocacy and adoption, inspiring one to become a foster parent. He noticed people, made them feel important and his smile and gentle nature always made people happy and at ease.
My family of three hosted Christmas for the first time this year and before we even heard of his illness I had planned to read one of Uncle Boyd’s poems before dinner. It seemed fitting that his most recent poem was about family. He loved his family so very much. Along with education, those memorable conversations in his living room would always include stories of family. Stories of his days as a professor and his students, many who were like family. Aunt Dixie and Uncle Boyd opened their home up to college students during the holidays and always made sure that students who couldn’t be with their families had a place to gather. His face lit up as he shared stories about his daughter Angela. How very proud he was of his little girl! Some tell tale stories about his brothers and his wife and her sisters would always provide some good laughs! Uncle Boyd was a man of great faith and a conversation would never go by without him acknowledging his Heavenly Father and his love for his church. Uncle Boyd brought joy to all of us and we will all miss him. The lessons he taught, the jokes he played, the words he wrote, the pictures he painted and the love he showed to all of us, will never be forgotten. He will live on through each of us and through future generations. Until we meet again, my dear Uncle Boyd.