Carroll Boyer led family, parishioners by example

July 06, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about the Rev. Carroll L. Boyer, who died June 22 at the age of 83. His obituary was published in the June 24 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Marie Boyer said she first met her future husband, Carroll, in a group that met at a Hagerstown church. They hit it off and dated for seven or eight years, she said.

The couple married in the late 1980s and began a journey that ended when Carroll passed away June 22 at the age of 83.

"We had a good 20 years together," she said.

During those years, Carroll and Marie blended their two families and watched them start families of their own.


"From a local farm boy to World War II veteran to Lutheran pastor, his life touched so many people," said Mike Eyler, who said Carroll was his stepfather in name only.

An adult when Carroll married his mother, Mike Eyler said Carroll performed his marriage to his wife two years later. When Mike Eyler's birth father passed away, Carroll presided at the funeral.

"His was a life to remember and learn from," Mike Eyler said.

Carroll's son, Mike Boyer, said it was "cool" being his child.

"Dad had a church and knew hundreds of people ... it was like an extended family," he said.

Mike Boyer and two of his sisters, Kris Boyer Kennedy and Marcia "Marty" Boyer, spoke of growing up in a home where Sunday school was held.

"I went to preschool at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Frederick (Md.)," Mike Boyer said of the church that his father led from 1954 until 1981. "I don't think I ever missed a Sunday service."

Kris said being a pastor was a lot more than 9 to 5 for her father.

"You never knew when there was a death and he would be gone," she said.

Marty and Kris recalled when their father was a supply pastor in Ocean City.

"It was at a drive-in movie theater," Marty said. "The organ was in the concession stand."

The Boyer children often would go along on those events, including visitations to nursing homes, where he ministered to residents.

Now that she is grown, Kris said she realizes that in all of those events, her father was letting his children in on his life by example.

"We saw what he did," she said, noting how comfortable she eventually became in that difficult nursing home situation. "He must have known the value of that experience for us."

Growing up could be tough with a preacher for a father and a teacher for a mother, Marty said.

"You couldn't get away with anything," she said.

Mike Boyer recalled covered-dish suppers at church when he and his sisters were always last in line.

"By then, the best desserts were gone," he said.

Carroll's selflessness was legendary, but he never called attention to himself about those activities.

He raised food in his huge home garden and gave it all to food banks. Then, there were the 10 gallons of blood he donated over the years and never talked about.

"You never heard him brag, not even that he started the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church as a mission," Mike Boyer said.

With 15 years between her and her older brother, Melissa Boyer Nearchos said that as the youngest, she probably got to spend more time with her father.

"I could talk to him about anything," she said by telephone. Melissa remembers his compassion, his sense of humor and how he could surprise even those who knew him best.

At a family gathering once, Melissa said her father was asked to describe one of the most interesting things he ever had done. His answer took everyone aback.

"Dad said it was the time he sat in the gas chamber chair at the Maryland State Penitentiary," Melissa said.

As his health began failing him, Carroll had some difficulty with the role reversal, his family said. After all, he was used to taking care of other people's needs.

"The caretaker couldn't stand being taken care of," Marty said.

As the memories swelled of Carroll and his influence over the lives he touched, Mike Eyler recalled a cold, wintry day when the two of them finished up several hours of cutting wood.

Carroll looked across the mountains with his pipe between his teeth and all was silent except for the sound of the snow falling.

"I said to him that it doesn't get any better than this," Mike Eyler said. "And Carroll said that I was right."

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