Posted by: Rex Boyles | October 18, 2007

“the best man I have ever known …”

On October 19, 1925 … William B. Boyles was born to Henry Griff and Lily Mae. He was the fifth of six children, one brother and 4 sisters. His mother and sisters called him, “Billy”. His brother and buddies called him, “Bill”. He grew up on a farm where he learned to ride horses, rope calves, milk cows, pick cotton, drive tractors, build fence, play baseball, tease sisters, and fight bullies.

 He started to school in Sudan, Texas. Liked recess more than reading, but was a natural at arithmetic. The other kids liked him. Funny and fun. According to one girl in his class, he was the “meanest boy in school”. Her name, for later reference, “Jo”.

He was handsome and popular. He was the captain of the football team … started both ways – running back and linebacker. His jet black hair, easy smile and dark eyes that sparkled with mischief made him the “handsomest boy in school” … according to a girl in his class. Her name – for later reference – “Jo”.

Before Christmas – his senior year – just after his 18th birthday (October 19, 1943) – he received a telegram from the President of United States, Franklin Roosevelt. “Greetings.” He was drafted into the US Navy. They let school out the day he boarded the train for basic training – the whole town turned out to wish him “Good Luck”; and while the rest of his class graduated from high school – he was on a ship in the Pacific Ocean living in the valley of the shadow of death from Japanese submarines and kamikaze pilots. He watched friends die, and he saw and heard things that haunt him even to this day. 

When World War II was over, he was honorably discharged. He came home to Sudan … to his family … and to a girl that was the love of his life – her name, “Jo”. They married in November 1945 … built a house “out on the farm” … and began their family.

Their loved sparked into life – 4 boys. They raised those boys much like he had been raised – working and playing on the farm. They learned to ride horses, milk cows, hoe cotton, drive tractors, build fence, tease brothers (no sisters) and fight bullies (when they weren’t fighting each other). He taught them how to make a living … how to make a life.

They all went to church – every Sunday morning – Sunday night – Wednesday night. He wasn’t a Christian back in those days, but he loved his wife and his boys – so he made sure they got to church (no matter what the weather). He sang with them in the car on the way to and from church, and he sat with them in church. He was there when each of them confessed their faith in Jesus and were immersed for the forgiveness of sins. After the boys were grown he decided to follow Jesus too.

He loves his family. He has welcomed 9 grandchildren (and 3 bonus gkids) … 14 great grandchildren (they call him, “Big Bill”); and he loves to tell everyone that if he had known how good the grand and great grand kids would be – he would have had them first and just skipped the kids.

He loves his wife. (Her name, “Jo” … yes, that one.) He makes her coffee every morning and comes home to her every night. He still teases – and she still thinks he is the meanest boy in class. His eyes still twinkle when he starts to tell some story on her – and she still thinks he is the handsomest boy in class.

He loves God. He has lived a blameless life – but he is a friend to sinners. He is generous – loyal – and wise. He welcomes every stranger he meets and treats them as a friend. He will stay up late or get up early to help a neighbor. He has fulfilled the first great command and the second all of his life.

I have never known a better man. He is the smartest man I have ever known. He can do anything. He is the kindest man I have ever known. He treats people the way he wants to be teated. He is the best man I have ever known. I know that I will never be the husband he is … never be the father he is … never be grandfather he is … never be the man he is.

But I thank God for him … for my father … for my brother … for my friend. (I was #3 out of the 4 boys.) I love him … I am proud that he is my father … and I want to be like him.

Many of you know him. All of you would enjoy knowing him. Would you please … with your comments … send my father a birthday blessing? If you have a fun story about him, he would love to remember it with you. If you have a tender memory toward him, my mother will want proof that he was ever “nice” to anyone? (I will print them out and give them to him over the next few days.) Thank you.


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