Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Talking to a Nonagenarian

If you are a historian, you yearn to talk to an nonagenarian. These are the people who are closing in on a century of living. To us fanatical history nuts, the tales and stories they tell you remind you of the day you first went on an Easter egg hunt. These folks have forgotten more events than many of us remember. As soon
as you get a chance, go out an find one. They aren't that hard to find. Don't just talk to them. Listen and listen intently. Oh, by the way, take detailed notes.

Loryea Lee Boyd came into this world on November 14, 1909. Though he lived most of his life in his native South Carolina, Mr. Boyd now lives in Swainsboro, but visits his son Larry and his wife Yvonne here in Dublin every chance he gets.  Mr. Boyd grew up on a farm, sharing his modest house with nine siblings - six
brothers and three sisters.

At the relatively old age of thirty-four, Loryea Boyd served his country in the Pacific during World War II. As a member of the Quartermaster Corps, Boyd drove a jeep carrying messages and working as a mail clerk in India. At the end of the war in Europe, Boyd was preparing to leave for the inevitable invasion of Japan. But along the way, he met his brother. The Boyd boys had a marvelous reunion and visited the sites around Calais, France. Loryea, or "L.L." as his friends call him, left Europe on this thirty sixth birthday bound for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey before virtually coming home to Augusta. During his years in the service, L.L. Boyd circumnavigated the globe.

When L.L. Boyd was born, William Howard Taft was the President of the United States. Since then, Boyd has lived under the administrations of seventeen presidents. His favorites are Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Roosevelt's fireside chats are still vivid in his ninety-eight year old mind. He thinks not very highly of Herbert Hoover. It was during the "Hoover Days" when Boyd and his neighbors lived in hard times. But he remembers, "I lived on a farm, but we didn't need anything. We had plenty to eat and never sought any relief."

It is indeed amazing how so many nonagenarians remember ancient things in details we youngsters can't remember from yesterday. Like the time L.L. needed a truck. He and his brother bought it from their uncle and took up the payments on a 1929 Chevrolet truck. Boyd remembers to the penny the $190.00 he spent on his 1931 Ford. It was about then when L.L. graduated from Wofford College in his home state. He did a little work on the vehicle before trading it in for a brand new '33 Plymouth and its spoked wheels. To help pay for these vehicles, Mr. Boyd kept a grocery store and a gristmill before going into the insurance business. With a good job in hand, Boyd married Lila Sheppard of Tampa in a marriage which lasted sixty five years.

Loryea L. Boyd's secret to a good life are having a good family, not drinking and not smoking. He does have some vices, chocolate - chocolate pie, chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream. When a piece of red velvet cake is put in front of him, few, if any, crumbs are left.

Among his heroes are Lou Gehrig and Strom Thurmond. But, just ask him. I think he is more proud of his sons, Larry and Edward. His pride in his sons is reflected in their pride in their dad.

"I have never known him to do anything except what is considered the right thing. He taught us by example, not words," said Edward. Though Edward was sparingly used as a substitute in high school sports, his father was there at every game and never complained to the coaches, not once. When his granddaughter graduated from college two years ago, her 96-year-old grandfather insisted on buying her a class ring out of his limited income.
Hard working men like L.L. Boyd have little time for hobbies, though he did love the occasional fishing trips and dove hunts. Most of his free time was spent in church, where he rarely missed a Sunday School class or a morning sermon. For more than fifty years, he served as a member of the Lions Club. He was president
of the club and remained active, even when the club's membership dwindled down to three. Lion Boyd was there on the first day of the Allendale, S.C. Lions Club and fifty years or more as president. He sold light bulbs, brooms and candy on the streets and in homes to raise money for Lions Club projects. Several times Lion Boyd accepted the role as club president and was elected by his peers as Lion of the Year.

As a member of the Allendale Masonic Lodge, L.L. Boyd earned he way up the all degrees of the Masonic brotherhood, only to be forced into retirement when he moved to Georgia. For more than twenty five years, Boyd worked to attract doctors to practice in rural Allendale County.

When he wasn't doing any of the above, L.L. Boyd worked for the County Heart and Cancer Associations. By the way, he also served on the school board and town council.

At the age of ninety eight, L. L. Boyd considers every day a gift and so does his son Larry, who has his Daddy here for one more day.
Mr. Boyd will be the first to tell you all about his life, but he will also be the first one to tell you that he is not a special person and did nothing outstanding. He doesn't toot his own horn. All the things he did, whether for his family or for his community, he did out of love without questions, without complaints and without a moment of selfishness.

During this American History month, let us salute L.L. Boyd and the many folks like him, who serve their community with their time, expertise and devotion, often with little or no pay - monetary that is - just for the love of his fellow man. And, in the end, that is what we as Americans should all be about.

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