Harold R. Boyette
December 3, 1922 – July 1, 2020
Harold Raines Boyette, age 97, passed July 1, 2020 at his home in Orange Park, Florida. A native of Hamlet, North Carolina, born on the Boyette family farm, Harold suffered from asthma which he eventually outgrew. Harold worked as newspaper delivery boy on his bicycle as a teen in the 1930's. A short stint at Mars College in Mars Hill, North Carolina, was interrupted by work for Seaboard Airline Railroad in Jacksonville, Florida, then WWII service in the U.S. Navy. Stationed at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, serving as an Aviation Machinist's Mate, he had a variety of duties, but most of all talked about his time flying in the sea planes of that era, notibably the PBY Catalina. A model of a PBY flies in his study in his home as a reminder of those days. After the war, while he was studying and training for a career, he married his high school sweetheart, the former Dora Margaret Stroupe. Harold pursued Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, graduating with honors. His professional career included years with Union Camp Corporation paper mills in Savannah, Georgia, where son Joseph (Joe) was born, and Seaboard Airline Railroad again, where he worked the rest of his professional life. Harold's father and several of his brothers worked for Seaboard where Harold eventually rose to the rank of Assistant Chief Mechanical Officer. While working for Seaboard and its successor railroads, Harold moved from Savannah to Norfolk, Virginia, and then Richmond, Virginia, where they stayed seven years, and finally to Jacksonville, Florida, in 1967. Son, Joe, remembers riding bicycles together, sledding in the winter, cub scouts, building a room addition to the house on Severn Road, making things of all manner, as well as building and flying model rockets, and Harold was scout master of Troop 24 in Orange Park for several years. Retiring in 1981, Harold began a new phase in his life by purchasing and completing a 33 foot sailboat which he subsequently enjoyed on the St. Johns River and trips up and down the intercoastal waterway in Florida and Southern Georgia and to the Bahamas with his friend Tom Ritch. Wife, Dora, passed away in 1989 after struggling with heart disease. Harold confided in his son, Joe, that there were several occasions where he loaded her in the car and went flying down Plainfield Avenue to Kingsley to the Orange Park Medical Center emergency department. Newly single, Harold made new friends at the Continental Yacht Club in Orange Park, where he kept his boat. Sometime in 1991, as Joe recalls, Harold spoke of a girl that he was interested in, the former Mildred (Millie) Brubeck. Marrying later that year, Harold and Millie began a loving and fulfilling life together, building a new condominium home at Fox Valley in Orange Park, enjoying many local activities, and traveling to many places in the world. A few of those activities included volunteering at the food bridge at Orange Park United Methodist Church, participating in Clay County's annual clean up, dancing classes, volunteering as hosts at the Thrasher Horn Center, and volunteering on the home owners association at Fox Valley. Sadly, Millie passed away in 2008, bringing this wonderful time to an end for Harold. But love was found two years later when Harold met Bonnie Brown at the church and they began seeing each other in 2010.
Harold was predeceased by his first wife Dora, second wife Mildred, father Jodie John Boyette, mother Ida Belle Boyette, brothers Kenneth Boyette, Ollie Boyette, Purvis Boyette, Shirley Boyette, and sister Mozelle Skeenes. Harold is survived by his son, Joseph Harold Boyette (Julie), grandchildren, Joseph Harold Boyette Jr. and Jonathan Russell Boyette (Rebecca) with his great grandson, Julian Thompson Boyette. Harold was comforted and assisted as he grew older by his family, friends at Orange Park United Methodist Church, neighbors at Fox Valley, and the staff at Orange Park Medical Center and St. Vincent's Medical Center.
Funeral services will be a grave side service at Magnolia Cemetary, 1040 Kingsley Avenue, in Orange Park, Florida. Arrangements by Hardage-Giddens Rivermead Funeral Home, 127 Blanding Boulevard, Orange Park, Florida.
- Harold was predeceased by his first wife Dora, second wife Mildred, father Jodie John Boyette, mother Ida Belle Boyette, brothers Kenneth Boyette, Ollie Boyette, Purvis Boyette, Shirley Boyette, and sister Mozelle Skeenes. Harold is survived by his son, Joseph Harold Boyette (Julie), grandchildren, Joseph Harold Boyette Jr. and Jonathan Russell Boyette (Rebecca) with his great grandson, Julian Thompson Boyette.
Learn more about the Boyette name
Friday, July 10, 2020
Harold R. Boyette
William (Bill) Stroupe
July 13, 2020
When my sister, Anne, and brother, Carl, and I visited our relatives, we always looked forward to seeing Uncle Harold. He invariably greeted us with interest in our lives and ambitions, treated us with kindness, and avoided talking down to us, even though we were just kids. We enjoyed his playful sense of humor and genuine empathy for others. Uncle Harold was one of the most caring people I have ever known. The world was a better place because of his presence.
July 10, 2020
One day after the engine and tranny were installed I remember Joe making a custom drive shaft to fit the new length dimensions between new front end and old back end. I do not recall if Mr. Boyette and Joe had replaced the rear axle or not. I am sure Joe remembers if they did or not.
All I know is one day the day came to try it out on the street. I think Joe actually had a seat installed for him, but for me all I got was an old milk crate sitting in the passenger side not bolted down.
I remember rolling out onto hiway 17 and sitting at a traffic light and Joe was ready to punch it when the light turned green and he did punch it but we did not go anywhere. He now had so much more horsepower in that chevy engine than the old rotten tires could handle and Joe spun the tires right off the rims and all the car did was dit down on blown out tires.
Well, once those tires were changed out with new ones, it back out on the highway for a trial run. Same setup. Joe driving and me sitting on the old milk crate next to Joe riding shotgun.
Light turned green and Joe punched it and this time I flew backwards and almost fell through the hole in the floor in the backseat area.
Looks like it works!
Now back to the house more carefully so as to not throw me around too much.
Next was rebuilding the rusted out floor. I remember lots of tar and sheet metal hammered into place and riveted into the holes to cover them.
And little by little, piece by piece that old 1940's car came back to life as a one of a kind car now.
Mr. Boyette quite obviously worked at a very high level of mechanical knowledge and skill that to this day I am still in awe of. Cutting cars in half with 60 seconds of quick measuring and rebuilding frankenstein cars with no drawings or written notes of any kind. All in his head.
And this is what he passed down to his son Joe, and that little neighborhood kid who always pestered him- and Joe- to learn more.
Thanks for it all, and RIP Mr. Boyette!
July 10, 2020
And I think later that same day or within a few days I remember seeing Joe and his dad driving this old clunker into the circle. I thought it was a 1977, but Joe said it was a 1970 Impala he and his dad had bought from a junkyard for around $300. And the dam thing still ran! They drove it home. But at the time I saw this I still had no idea what was in the works.
Mr. Boyette did the same thing with that junkyard car he had done with the 1940's car and took a few quick measurements and had Joe cut off the front end of the Impala, and weld the front end of the 1970 Impala to the frame of the 1940's dodge!
Apparently it was not feasible to rebuild all of the 1940's engine, front end, steering, suspension, and transmission, so Mr. Boyette simply cut it all off and tossed it aside and decided on upgrading that old 1940's car with newer V8 chevy engine, power steering, and newer chevy suspension, and newer chevy transmission and even power brakes too.
I never saw Mr. Boyette put anything down on paper. It was all in his head. No drawings. No written measurements. It looked like to me he was just winging it as he went along.
Never in my life before or since had I ever seen anything like this. I mean who in their right mind cuts 2 cars in half and then welds one front end of one car onto the back end of another car? Unreal!
But that's what I remember.
Taking it further... I remember as this new frankenstein of a car came together... Joe and his dad rebuilt the V8 and I think they sent out this particular transmission, though I would not be surprised if they rebuilt it too. I do remember the two of them rebuilding a tranny at some point but I do not recall which car it went to.
I was amazed at how easy all of this seemed to be for them to do. Like they knew and expected it to all work out no matter what.
July 10, 2020
I remember the Boyettes had this old Wheel Horse lawn mower that was more like a small tractor. I think I learned how to drive on it. I believe it was the first thing I ever did learn to drive.
I remember when the old engine blew up, Mr Boyette and Joe put a bigger motor on it. Now that sucker could pop wheelies! Long before lawnmower grand prix, the Boyettes had a souped up hot rod riding lawn mower! Now I really wanted to drive it around and would mow the yard for free just to drive it.
One story I told Joe today that I really have to tell is the one car I remember the most Joe and his dad rebuilt an old 1940's Dodge I think it was. It was a car rusting away up in Virginia with someone they knew up there, maybe a relative. I think they brought it back to Florida on a trailer.
I remember this old car had the side split hood raised up from the side of the car. One on the right and one on the left side. It had suicide doors on it and I think a split front windshield. Man what a rust bucket! The flooring inside was all rusted out and if you opened the trunk you saw the ground.
Joe and his dad stripped this car down to the frame. I recall Mr. Boyette telling me they sent all the chrome parts out to be re-chromed like the bumpers and door handles.
So one day I walk over to the Boyette's garage and see just the frame of this car sitting on the floor in the garage. Joe was doing most of the work.
What happened next blew me away and still blows me away to this day!
Mr. Boyette comes out to the garage and takes a look at the frame sitting there and he and Joe are discussing how to proceed from here. Next thing I saw, Mr. Boyette whips out just a tape measure and I watch him as he begins to take a few measurements. And in less than 60 seconds he is now using the tape measure as a pointer and he tells Joe to grab the blow torch and cut the entire front end of this car off and toss it all out into the side yard behind the garage.
July 10, 2020
So if I was to learn how to do things it was from Mr. Boyette and Joe. I learned how to check fluids on cars, how to change oil, change transmission fluid, differential oil, how to check and clean spark plugs and check gap distance, and how to change a tire and brake pads and general maintenance mechanical things like this were all invaluable to me.
It was like this all through the 1970's and even up through much of the 1980's. One car after another to work on I think most of them were for Joe. some hot rods like a 66 Ford Fairlane Joe drove back and forth from FSU when he was in college.
And I recall Mr. Boyette driving this small green pinto for awhile until Joe got a hold of it and promptly slapped a 302 V8 in it and made a real sleeper out of it. Fast off the line. The motor was so big as I recall the fan blade barely fit in between the engine and radiator and when Joe hit the brakes on it I think I remember the fan blades rubbing the backside of the radiator. Sort of overkill on the power for such a small car, but I am sure Joe had fun in it.
My first real boating trips were on Mr. Boyette's blue and white Cobia boat with a Johnson 2 stroke outboard on the back. My first time skiing was with him and Joe. My first time catching shrimp from the St. Johns river down by the bridge at Doctor's Lake was on that boat with the Boyettes.
I remember hearing Mr. Boyette worked for Seaboard Coastline Railroad but I did not really have a clue exactly what he did for them until one day I walked over to the Boyette's garage and in there laying on the floor was this huge steel bearing about 16 inches in diameter. It probably weighed a hundred pounds or more and I was not big enough to even pick it up. But I instantly got a clue now as to what he did for the railroad. I believe it was in maintenance and repair of train cars and locomotives. This bearing had come off one of the train cars he worked on.
July 10, 2020
My family moved to Silver Wing Circle in November of 1964 when I was only 5 months old.
My first memories of meeting neighbors like the Boyette's was not until I was big enough to travel around neighborhood and ride my bike around the circle probably in 1968 or 1969.
As I grew up there I guess I was neighborhood kid who like to pester my neighbors and none more so than Mr. Boyette as I called him back then.
There were only a few families living on the circle at the time. The Boyettes, the Millers, the Bentleys, and Davis family plus my family the Griffiths.
For me the Boyettes stand out the most quite simply because Mr. Boyette and his son Joe who was 10 years older than me were always doing something in the garage. And as a young boy with an inquisitive mind and a knack for playing with tools and tinkering on things, there was nothing better than having some neighbors who knew what to do and how to do it.
And so for me, Mr. Boyette's tremendous knowledge in mechanical things was an invaluable learning experience for me that I have kept with me for my entire life.
And I can tell you Mr. Boyette must have had some great patience to put up with me! I was good at pestering for sure!
It seemed like every Saturday morning became a ritual at the Boyette house and quite often I would arrive over there long before any of them were ready to come out to the garage and get to work.
I remember some days we would enjoy a coke cola and some type of beef jerky while tinkering and doing things out there.
My dad was a systems analyst who spent his career writing programming for DOD computers for the Navy at NAS Jax. So he was not much in to knuckle busting with tools on cars. He did do some minor work on bikes and lawn mowers, but when our cars needed repair off to some shop it went.
(continued in another 'memory' due to word limits)
July 10, 2020
From grandson Jon Boyette:
But the most abiding and poignant memory I have of my time with granddad is one of the least memorable: He had picked me up from after school care, as he did a few times a week, and driven me down to Green Cove Springs to go to the park. After the park, we drove home. And in my mind's eye, I can see a moment from the ride home. Looking out the front of his camper van, watching the road pass by in contemplative silence.
In this memory there is no lesson. Only a moment, or the vision of a moment--a few seconds of my life, the steady glow of the road passing beneath us, brilliant in the afternoon sun. A moment unbounded by any specific event, passing eternally and unchanging in my memory. The thoughtful silence, or silence but for the hum of the engine and the rush of the wind and pavement. An unremarkable moment, selected for preservation by the inscrutable whim of memory and, by this selection, exalted. Whenever I cast my mind back to that moment, I feel just as I felt then. Patience. Quiet, contented existence. Not yet where I was going but happy to be on the way. It was one of the best moments of my life. A moment of pure being, existing, inhabiting a space and time with someone you loved, and who loved you.
Farewell, granddaddy. I love you, and I'll miss you, and I will do my best to live as you did--filling every moment, no matter how ordinary, with life.
July 10, 2020
From grandson Jon Boyette:
I remember how granddaddy would say, "if you don't have your health, you don't have much." Poised as I am at the moment in life when I can no longer count on a youthful metabolism to ward off the extra weight and shortness of breath, I think about that aphorism more and more.
I remember him as kind and gentlemanly. Sure of his opinions but willing to hear yours.
I remember the time one of us kids was sulking about having to sweep the floors, lackadaisically pounding the dust out of the rug, and him taking the rug and cracking it like a whip, shouting, "ha!" as though driving a team of horses.
I remember sailing with him. Exploring with him, in the keys and in the mountains.
Then there was the time when, as a teenager, I arrived at his house with my dad to find him working on a home improvement project. A retired man, he had every reason to relax, to hire someone else to do the work for him. But he didn't. He, like my own dad, kept himself busy. In that moment, I understood that to make yourself a good and worthy steward of your time on this Earth required that you keep your hands, your mind, and your heart busy, and present, and engaged. I understood myself to be an heir to a tradition of keeping busy, tinkering, and improving. I haven't always claimed that inheritance, but I've never forgotten it, and in my best moments I think I almost live up to it.
July 10, 2020
There are people whom I have crossed paths with during my life that I wish I had more time. Mr. Boyette is one of those people. I truly believe I gained more from our brief talks than he did from me. He was always thankful for the flowers from our church and the fact that he was not forgotten. He would tell me about his past and the jobs he had. He was proud of you, Joe, and thankful for all you and Julie did for him. Praise be to God that you were able to take him home so he would not be alone.
July 7, 2020
I have so many wonderful memories of Harold during the years he spent with “Millie.” We shared many exciting cruises with them. A terrific man who loved his family. So blessed that he joined our family. You are missed by so many. Godspeed Harold!
July 7, 2020
It is so hard to just share one memory about Harold Boyette. I just remember his support for us and esp, offering to take care of Joey when he went to Daycare, I just thought it would be great if he could pick Joey up early and make a special day of it. Joey's afternoons with granddaddy were so special and when Jonny came along he would pick them both up to take them for ice cream and maybe take them to the park He was so supportive in those early years and he and Joe always had projects planned ,,,not always known to me but it was always father/son projects and those were the thing that enriched their lives...I have always loved Harold as if he were my own father and will always continue to do so. He was a class act and the way he lived his life always spoke to his impeccable character,,,
July 7, 2020
Harold was such a loving southern gentleman, I remember when he called me and ask my permission to marry my Mother, we were truly lucky to welcome him into our family Millie and Harold had a wonderful bond and many fun years together Rest in peace dear Harold, you are home
July 6, 2020
I am so glad we got to see Harold during our last visit, and that we got to introduce him to Julian. He was such a kind and generous man. We will miss him. Sending our love from Portland!
July 5, 2020
So sorry to hear this news. I remember him from when we lived beside you on Plainfield. Sitting in the yard, playing with our dog and always with a kind word and smile on his face. He was loved by many and will be truly missed.
July 3, 2020
We met Harold at the same marina we kept our sailboat.
He was such an enthusiastic sailor and could fix anything. He was one of our cruising mentors.
We followed his escapades with Millie (our former neighbor) including designing a house for dancing!
Later we enjoyed his company at Wed. night dinners at church.
He was a loving father who raised a loving son, a true gentleman!
We will miss you here Harold. Save us a place at the party!
July 3, 2020
I remember seeing your dad eating lunch at La Nopalera with you, Julie, Joey and one time John & Rebecca. He was a nice man and I know he will be greatly missed. My prayers and love are with you and your family.
July 3, 2020
I remember Harold as a gentleman.
He had such class and love for family!
Loved his son and grandchildren,, even a great grandson !
He lived an enriched life and so may he rest in peace!