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James C. Boyd

Obituary for James C. Boyd

December 27, 1946 - March 8, 2020
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania | Age 73


James C. Boyd of Chadds Ford, PA, age 73, passed away Sunday, March 8, 2020. Jim was born on December 27, 1946 in Syracuse, NY to the late Edgar Francis Boyd and Margaret Lillian (Mason) Boyd. He graduated cum laude from the University of Rochester with a BA in English.

Jim's thirty-eight-year career working as an editor in the academic publishing field included assignments in Santa Monica, CA where he worked for Goodyear Publishing Co.; in Glenview, IL for Scott, Foresman and Co.; in Upper Saddle River, NJ where he worked for Prentice-Hall Higher Education, and later for Pearson Technology and Consumer Publishing Group.

Jim showed a remarkable aptitude for music at an early age. When a school counselor brought his exceptional musical test scores to the attention of his mother, she encouraged his pursuit of music by purchasing instruments, enrolling him in music instruction, and taking him to concerts. As a teenager, he sang and played acoustic guitar and the five-string banjo in a number of award-winning bands. His interest in country, folk, and bluegrass music continued throughout his adult life as he entertained family, co-workers, and the public in a variety of settings. Selections of Jim's recordings can be accessed at

By the mid-1980s, Jim developed an interest in the liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church, and served as the director of contemporary music groups in the following parishes: Holy Cross Catholic Church in Deerfield, IL; Church of Saint Augustine in New City, NY, and Saints Peter & Paul Parish in West Chester, PA. Jim also served as music director for the parish baptism program at the Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, NJ. Following his retirement from publishing in 2013, he served as a musician volunteer for Heartland Hospice in Chadds Ford, PA, compassionately ministering to the terminally ill through his gift of music.

Jim was patient, kind, soft spoken, and inquisitive. He repeatedly demonstrated his ability as a problem solver, and had a memorable sense of humor. A natural introvert, he clung to the safe periphery of large family gatherings, and was often heard to say, "I enjoy being in the vicinity of people who are not bothering me."

Jim is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Patty (Daly) Boyd of Chadds Ford, PA; son James Ryan Boyd and his wife Jamesina Harrick of Media, PA; daughter Meghan Jean (Boyd) DeMaio of Downingtown, PA; five grandchildren: Emery James Boyd Harrick, Carmella Rose Boyd Harrick, Rocco Fox Boyd Harrick, Rory James DeMaio, and Abigail Jean Drescik. In addition to his parents, Jim is preceded in death by his brother, Gordon Boyd and sister, Betty Jean Boyd.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Jim will be held at 10:30 am on Monday, March 16, 2020 at Saint Joseph's on the Brandywine, 10 Old Church Road, Greenville, DE 19807. Family and friends may begin to visit on Monday starting at 9:30 am. Inurnment to follow the Mass at cemetery adjacent. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to "Penn Medicine Hospice" and sent in care of the R.T. Foard & Jones Funeral Home, 122 West Main Street, Newark, DE 19711.

-----------------------------------------Eulogy for Dad---------------------------------------------
By Ryan Boyd

In the last hours of my father's life I recalled a quote attributed to Mark Twain. It goes, "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and never suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." My dad, no longer speaking at this point, responded with a long vocalized sigh. It was his kind of humor.

It's important for those of you who loved my dad to know that the moment of his death, and the day or so leading up to it, contained beauty. He was able to acknowledge and interact with everyone who visited him. Once he became less responsive, he appeared to calmly do the inner work of letting go. And from there his body did less and less until everything was finally at rest. In a little over 24 hours my father had accomplished the hard work of saying goodbye.

I hope you will take comfort in knowing that the later stage of my father's life, his retirement, was filled with friends and grandchildren and the life he had created with my mom over 46 years, in a home he loved. Despite health challenges, he lived how he wanted — and I think he died how he wanted as well: Only briefly taken into emergency care, together with his family and a competent, attentive hospice nursing staff who kept him comfortable.

My father's early years were less assuring. He lost a sister before he was born and his father died shortly afterwards. His mother, whom he described as a hard worker and an enthusiastic sponsor of his musical talents, died when he was a young adult. His older brother, Gordon, lived several decades more but ultimately died prematurely, in my father's view. If there was something my father took away from these tragic circumstances, I think it was an acknowledgment that everyone deserves to be comforted.

This expressed itself in basic ways, like my dad's preoccupation with physical warmth, whether it came from a fireplace, a glass of scotch (later, a cup of espresso), or a pet asleep on his lap. The need for comfort was present in the way he understood home and family, and the way he defined love. And it was directed outwardly, as when he performed music for hospice patients, some of the last songs he would play.

My father assumed many roles in his lifetime, and the way he performed these roles was shaped by his comfort level in social situations. Naturally introverted, he was quiet and thoughtful. In his career as an editor, this made him effective when collaborating with authors, often experts in their fields. But it also made him incensed when dealing with narcissistic personalities of the sort that are too often celebrated in corporate life. As a musician, performing was one of the most important ways he could interact with groups of people. But he was reluctant to impose, bringing his instruments to family gatherings only to deny having them if the mood wasn't right. As a father he was a peacemaker who could calmly reassess a situation after tempers flared. But sometimes this was because he had not been so entangled in the situation to begin with.

There were times when my dad retreated from people altogether. My dad's skill at extricating himself from social situations often left my mom repeating, "Where's Jim?" in the middle of their own dinner parties. The answers varied. In one instance, when entertaining his boss, my father decided to test the attic fan, which created a vacuum felt throughout the entire house. On other occasions, he was discovered at the computer, attempting to factcheck a point of conversation on Google, or curate a music playlist. Frequently he would remove himself for the purpose of retrieving something that no one had requested. His willingness to defy social convention, and the humorous pose he would strike when caught, delighted his children as much as it aggrieved his wife. My sister, Meghan, with whom my dad shared a unique bond, often gravitated towards him in group gatherings for his unromantic assessment of the prescribed merriment. And as his son, I often appreciated his response to my mom's constructive suggestions for a day well-spent. He might say, "Oh, I can't imagine anything more oppressive!" We loved him dearly for making us comfortable enough to experience things in a different way.

A lifelong learner and avid reader, Dad brought an openness and natural curiosity to everything, including his faith. In his exploration of Catholic theology, drawing heavily on Jesuit and Franciscan traditions, he discovered a dialogue happening between Rome and the global Catholic Church many decades before there would be a Pope Francis. He didn't understand Catholicism, or any faith, as a one-dimensional thing, but as a layered expression of relationships between people and institutions. In everything, you will find good and bad, so it is important to be receptive to what is good.

In a journal entry to his grandchildren, Dad wrote: "Listening to other people and being open to new ideas is, I believe, one of the keys to becoming wiser. Some people, as they get older, shut themselves off to new ways of looking at things. The fact is, every person has a unique view of the world and the people in it. It is important to share those views and to be open to change."

My father's reserved nature limited his outreach to others. But he was motivated by meaning. He could overcome his introversion, stepping out of his own comfort zone, when he acted in affirmation of others; as when he performed music for baptisms, weddings, and the end of life. And he was also ready to celebrate in others the qualities he valued most. My maternal grandmother, Nell Daly, embodied what my dad called "the incredible positive and creative energy unleashed by affirming the life and spirit of others." It was a theme he had found in the New Testament. In the eulogy he wrote for her, he said, "I have never known anyone who did this more naturally and sincerely as Nell." As she was for so many, she was a comfort to him, and I am sure that for my family, the possibility that they are somehow now together will serve as a comfort to us all.

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