Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Oct. 27, 2006

Tribute to Marie

The birthday card was still propped on my desk when I heard the news. I was planning on mailing it so it would arrive a few days before Marie's birthday this week. But she died a little more than two weeks before she would have turned 98.

Although I was sad to learn of her death, I was also glad that I had known Marie Boyd through my work at the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media at Kansas State University. The widow of McDill "Huck" Boyd, Marie was active and engaged in life. Petite, proud, warm, smart and independent, she was a delight to be around.

She and Huck were partners at the Phillips County Review in northwest Kansas for many years. She told me that when her daughters were young, she often took them with her as she picked up news and ads for the paper in downtown Phillipsburg. But she and her husband were known for their service to their community as well as for their newspaper work. They lived by the words of Huck's grandfather: "community service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on this earth."

I don't recall the first time I met Marie, but I remember her at the dedication of the Huck Boyd Community Center in Phillipsburg in 1997. She was so proud of the center, with its 500-seat auditorium, teleconference facility and model railroad museum. But what she was most proud of was that it was named to honor her late husband.

Never seeking center stage, she worked behind the scenes to ensure that her husband's legacy continued. She was an integral part of the planning when the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development were established at Kansas State University in the early 1990s. Even as late as last spring, she was present at community activities in her hometown.

When we began the Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media series at K-State in 1999, I thought it would be appropriate to invite former Sen. Bob Dole to be the inaugural speaker. Huck Boyd was the man who encouraged Sen. Dole to enter the world of politics and the senator considered Huck to be his mentor and friend.

When I asked Marie to introduce Sen. Dole, she hesitated, saying that she wasn't really much of a public speaker. But she wowed the crowd in McCain Auditorium with her words and nearly brought the Senator to tears. She said it was fitting that Dole would be the first speaker in the lecture series because of his friendship with Huck.

"The real Bob Dole, Bob Dole, the man, has never forgotten the values his parents taught him," she said. "He has a deep compassion and uncommon sensitivity."

And Sen. Dole returned the compliments.

Although Huck was his mentor, Marie was always there with friendly advice, too. He said Marie would keep Huck and him on track. He was visibly moved as he talked about Huck and Marie, whom he considered friends.

Marie would later tell me in a letter that introducing Bob Dole was "one of the most privileged and meaningful honors that I have every had."

For me, it was a great privilege and honor to have known Marie Boyd, a gentle, wise lady whose presence in the world enriched my life and the lives of many others.

I wasn't able to attend the memorial service for Marie in Phillipsburg. I was in Oklahoma City moderating the "Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium," co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media. I think Marie would have approved.

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