Community remembers Boyd with fondness

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A man is not judged by what he takes with him; rather, he is judged by what he leaves behind.

In death, Joe Boyd’s influence will continue to be felt for many years to come through the lives he influenced as a teacher, a coach and an administrator and as a husband, father, friend and community leader.

Boyd died on Thursday, May 24, 2018, after a long illness. He is remembered with honor, respect and love by those who knew him well.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Clint Foster, a member of the Pike County Board of Education, is a 1989 graduate of Pike County High School. And, speaking for himself and the many others who were “supervised” by Boyd, Foster said Boyd’s influence has been and will continue to be far-reaching.

“For us as students, his greatest influence was as a disciplinarian,” Foster said. “When you were called to his office, you left knowing that you had been disciplined. But he was fair; it didn’t matter who you were, you got what you needed. We all had great respect for Mr. Boyd.”

Respect and loyalty were the two words Foster said best describe Boyd.

“Joe Boyd had the respect of others and he was extremely loyal to the administration and to the school,” Foster said. “He was the assistant to several principals and they probably could have named their own assistant but they all chose him. That says a lot about him, as a man and as an administrator.

Boyd worked in the Pike County school systems for 40 years, 24 years at Pike County High School and 22 of those years, as assistant principal.

Dr. Johnny Wright was the principal at Pike County High School during much of Boyd’s long tenure as assistant principal.

“Mr. Boyd and I worked together for about 15 years,” Wright said. “He was kind; he was fair; he was dedicated and the students loved him. He was truly interested in them and wanted to see them succeed and he did his part in making it happen.”

Wright and Boyd worked together to bring back “the glory days” to PCHS.

“Greater emphasis was placed on academics, athletics and the arts,” Wright said. “That was the beginning of the state championships in football and the arts programs including the Madrigal Singers. Joe Boyd was instrumental in the improvement in all those areas. He continued at PCHS after I retired and continued to make a positive impact on education and in the lives of the students.”

Myra Wilson taught history at PCHS. She said Boyd backed the teachers and supported their needs.

“If the teachers had needs, he saw to it that those needs were met,” Wilson said. “If there were things that I wanted to do in the classroom and for the students, I would give Mr. Boyd an explanation and he would back me.”

Wilson said Boyd had the respect of the students and the parents.

“He was fair in his dealings with the students, the teachers and the parents,” she said. “If he said something, he meant it. You could count on it. Respect is something you earn and Joe Boyd earned respect and he got it.”

Sara Bowden was the guidance counselor at Pike County High School during the 1960s and Joe Boyd was “her” assistant principal.

“I will always cherish the years that Joe Boyd was my assistant principal,” Bowden said. “I was fortunate to have him. He was in charge of the discipline of the students and was always fair in his dealings with them. They respected him and they liked him. My job was a lot easier because I always had his support. I don’t know what would have become of me if it had not been for Joe Boyd.”

Bowden said she had opportunities to see two sides of Boyd.

“We all looked to him to settle things,” she said. “He was remarkable in doing that. He was no nonsense. When he said something, that was it. And he had a great sense of humor. It was a little on the dry side and sometimes I didn’t know exactly how to take it. But he made my job interesting.”

And when the day came to integrate the local school, Bowden was assigned to ride the bus to Bethel School and bring children from the middle school back to Pike County High School.

“Mr. Boyd assured me that when we got back to the school with the children, there would not be a single incident,” she said. “There were three of us on the bus going up to Bethel – Buren Thompson, the bus driver, a federal marshal and me.”

Bowden went inside and the teachers instructed the children, about 10 of them, that they were to go to PCHS.

“They were displeased, but they went,” she said. “When we got back to the high school, there was not one student to be seen. A deputy sheriff was there but it was just as our assistant principal had said. He had the confidence that everything would be all right and it was.”

Bowden said Boyd approached every day with a renewed spirit.

“He knew challenges would come but that everything would somehow, someway be all right,” she said. “He was an inspiration to me and to others, more than we’ll ever know.”