Virgil R. Boyd, 87, owner and long-time manager of Boyd Funeral Home, passed away December 20, 2016, with his ‘girls’ by his side. He went to meet his Lord, his beautiful wife, son, grandson and many other loved ones for a joyous Christmas.
He was born April 6, 1929 to Hugh and Lillie Burnett Boyd in Austin, AR. He was raised in and around the Cabot area. In 1946 he met the love of his life, Margaret McVay while she was visiting a friend in Cabot. They married on August 1, 1946. They started their family, October, 1949 with daughter, Patricia, and a son, Donald in 1953.
The Lonoke County community, especially Lonoke, has lost a dedicated, generous man who put their needs before his at all times. It never mattered to Virgil your station in life he treated everyone, rich or poor, black or white with the same love and respect. He has always been on call 24 hours a day for families that needed his help. Between the years of 1957 thru 1974, he drove the ambulance as well as meeting with families to plan a funeral, or conducting a service, sometimes all three without stopping in between. There were times he would be up 48 hours straight. He also served as Lonoke County Coroner for several years.
Virgil’s love for the funeral profession started at a young age. He began helping with graves and tent setups at 17. From there it went to helping drive the ambulance and then assisting with funerals. He received his funeral directors license in 1957. At the time he worked for Bailey Funeral Home in Cabot. In July, 1957 he was asked to come to Lonoke to manage their funeral home here. His family felt as if they had moved into a mansion, from a two room house in Cabot to an upstairs apartment with five rooms.
In 1972, Virgil was offered the opportunity to buy Weaver Funeral Home. With only $50 to his name, and the help of some very dear friends and others who believed in him, he was able to sign the papers in November, 1972. The name was changed to Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. He, Margaret and son Donald were going to manage the funeral home and flower shop that was already established in the business. Margaret loved the flower shop, and Donald helped with the ambulance transporting. In late 1973, Virgil and Donald started taking EMT classes with the first class offered in Arkansas. Tragically, in November, 1974, while transporting a patient to the Veterans Hospital, the door of the ambulance came open pulling Donald out onto the freeway. Unfortunately, he died the following night of his injuries. After this, they made the funeral home their life. He often said that he was doing it for Donald.
In 1976, Pat presented them with a grand-daughter, and another in 1979. These girls gave them a reason to live again. They loved them unconditionally, and spoiled them rotten. They enjoyed having them stay over with them on week-ends and summer vacation.
In 1986, Virgil and Margaret built a new office and reception area to the existing chapel area of the funeral home, moving out of the old two story building which had housed the office area. About the same time, they were able to build a new house and move completely away from the funeral home itself. This was a drastic change for them because since they had moved to Lonoke, they had lived upstairs in the funeral homes.
In 1991, they asked Pat to come work for them. She eventually became the office manager, and continues to manage the office and finances.
On August 1, 2012, Virgil and Margaret celebrated their 66 wedding anniversary. Sadly, on August 31, 2012, Margaret passed away. Virgil was devastated. He thought he knew how people felt when they lost a spouse. He was always so good at giving hugs, and ‘We love you’ to family members, but he admitted that he had no idea until Margaret died exactly how it felt. After that he was even more compassionate.
Virgil Boyd will be dearly missed not only by his immediate family, but by his family of devoted employees. Some have worked for him almost 20 years. He taught them how and why they should treat the dead as if they were alive, showing respect for them as much as their surviving family members. He ran a funeral service like a well-oiled machine. His teachings have followed several young funeral directors through their lives in this business. He was always respected, and loved by all that dealt with him in this business. If one member of each family he has served over the years showed up for his service, there would be standing room only. He has touched thousands over the 59 years he has been in Lonoke.
Preceding him in death were his parents, wife, Margaret, son, Donald, grandson, Doyle Wayne Baldwin, his brother Kenneth and wife Jean, and numerous in-laws that he loved as his own family.
Survivors include, his sister, Geneva Hassen (Thomas) of Cabot; daughter, Patricia Baldwin of Lonoke; grand-daughters, Kyla Baldwin (Steve Fortune) of Cabot, Kasi Baldwin-Ellis (Matt) of Sherwood and Great-granddaughter, Mattie Keirsten Ellis; brother-in-law, James McVay (Marilyn), sisters-in law, Virgene and Eileen McVay; many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
The family will receive friends 6-8 pm Monday at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel. A funeral service will be held 2pm Tuesday, December 27 at Lonoke Baptist Church with burial following in Butlerville Cemetery.