Mr. Wilbur Earlie “Wil” Boyd, Jr, 88 years old, of Mountain City, TN (formerly of Boone, NC and Albuquerque, NM) passed at his home, into the loving arms of his Savior, Jesus Christ, on Sunday, November 1, 2020. Wil was born October 6, 1932 in Cabot, AR to Wilbur Earlie Sr and Emma Jean Webb Boyd, and was the oldest of six children.
After finishing school in Jacksonville, AR, Wil joined the United States Air Force in 1953. While on active duty, he was stationed in Albuquerque, NM at Sandia Specialty Weapons Base/Kirkland AFB/Manzano Specialty Weapons Base as a Nuclear Weapons Technician. There, he provided surveillance, maintenance, and strike readiness preparation of the nuclear weapons. He recalled it was a very tense time, especially during the Cold War. He was honorably discharged in 1957 and remained in the Reserves until 1961.
After leaving the Air Force, he and his family remained in Albuquerque and he accepted a job at the Lovelace Research Center where he worked with Dalmatian Dogs to determine the effects of sudden pressure changes on the lungs. This research was of valuable use to the future Mercury Project astronauts. Following his tenure with Lovelace, Wil began his career as a gifted Engineering Technician beginning with Sandia National Laboratory working on many highly classified projects. In 1971, he accepted a position in the small mountain town of Boone, NC at IRC/TRW where he was integral in the development of the element for the first hand-held hair dryer produced by Schick. Once again, Sandia National Labs would call him back to Albuquerque where he would again work on some of our country’s most classified projects until his retirement in 1997.
Sadly, while in Boone, Wil’s wife, and mother of his four children, Clara Mae Jones Boyd tragically passed-away from cancer on October 3, 1973. Fortunately, on October 31, 1974, a sweet lady named Betty Belle Mitchell would accept his invitation for a date. On April 6, 1975 at the Foscoe Christian Church, Wil and Betty would marry and become an extended family of 10 as she had two children (as well as Betty had two bonus daughters, she remained close to). As a honeymoon, Wil and Betty relocated back to Albuquerque and for 20 years Wil and Betty completed their careers. After retirement, they returned to Betty’s hometown of Zionville, NC and then to their current home a short distance away in Mountain City, TN.
Wil had many hobbies and interests including car restoration, reading, traveling, sailing and obtaining his pilot license and piloting his Lark Commander and Cessna 182. One of his and Betty’s favorite trips was to Hawaii where on Dec 7, 1990, he and Betty would rent a plane from the Hickam Field Aero Club and fly the route the Japanese took in the sneak attack of Pearl Harbor. Trips were also made back to visit family in NC, AR, IL, and Washington State with Wil at the controls of the airplane. After he could no longer obtain his health certificate for flying his airplanes, he still took to the sky with his Ultralight aircraft.
Wil was raised in the Baptist faith, but his faith for the Lord would become stronger in retirement as he began to research and follow the teachings of Ken Hams’ “Answers in Genesis” and Creation Science. He and Betty attended her church, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, and as his love for the Lord deepened, he professed his faith in Christ and joined the church in the believer’s baptism. He enjoyed teaching the Men’s Adult Sunday School class, singing in the choir and continuing to research biblical topics. As Alzheimer’s took his memory and abilities away, his love for the Lord was not taken. His love for singing would also remain in his final days. He would often sing the songs of his generation without missing a word and Wil also loved to sing love songs to his “bride” as he called Betty.
Left to cherish his memory, advice, funny stories, songs, and adventures are his wife and excellent caretaker of 43 ½ years, Betty Belle Mitchell Boyd of the home, sons Barry Boyd of Matoaka, WV and Gary Boyd of Mountain City, TN: daughters Roxanne Martinez of Haxtun, CO, and Suzanne (Tino) Martinez of Sterling, CO. His “bonus” son, Ronald (Cindy) Gore of Zionville, NC and “bonus” daughters Darlene Greene-Caudill (Jeff) of Deep Gap, NC, Kathy Greene Jones (Phil) of Garner, NC and Karen Greene Lerch (Bert) of Vilas, NC. To his 17 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild, he will always be known as Grandpa Boyd or Pepaw. He is also survived by two sisters, Irma Jean (Don) Barrett of Huntsville, AL and Annette (Johnny) Hammons of Cabot, AR, four sister-in-laws, Barbara Boyd and Phyllis Boyd of Cabot, AR, Judy Boyd of Carthage, MO and Louise (Landon) Goad of Naperville, IL. Many nieces, nephews and cousins also remain. He will be greatly missed by his constant companion of the last six years “Maureen O’Hara” or more affectionately known as “Mini MO”, his loving Chihuahua who gave him great comfort as his dementia progressed.
In addition to his parents and his first wife, he was preceded in death by three younger brothers Joe, Kenneth and Glenn Boyd.
Funeral services took place at Austin and Barnes Funeral Chapel in Boone, NC on Sunday, November 8th at 2:00 with Pastor Steve LeaShomb officiating. Visitation was from 1:00-2:00 prior to the service. Burial followed at Mount Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Boone, NC with military rites provided by American Legion Post # 130.
Although saddened by his leaving our sight, I Thessalonians 4:13 reminds us, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial tributes be made to the Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital, ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. Online condolences may be shared at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Boyd family.