The Texas Historical Foundation board is mourning the death of a long-serving and beloved board member, attorney John F. Boyle, Jr. of Irving. He and his wife Kitty have been members of the THF family since 2002. The couple had six children and a large extended family. THF sends its condolences to them and offers this remembrance of his inimitable spirit.
Though he was born in Chicago, John’s sharp Irish wit surfaced when he explained that he “lived there for only one month before he made the decision to move to Fort Worth.” He was a Texan through and through—a loyal fan of the Dallas Cowboys and his alma mater University of Texas Longhorns.
It would be easy to only mention John’s accomplishments because there were so many: his career as a municipal law attorney representing countless cities and special districts throughout Texas; his service to his own community of Irving as its first city attorney; his work as a representative of the people of the 33rd district during the 62nd Session of the Texas Legislature; and his numerous board memberships and involvement with local and statewide charitable organizations.
But John was bigger than those achievements, and a more complete picture of the man emerges when one hears the words of his friends. Sam Coats, another THF board member, knew Boyle for more than 50 years. He said: “[John and I] ran together for the Texas Legislature in 1970, were office mates, and served together [during] the 62nd Session… Neither of us got re-elected due to redistricting; John should have. He was a great public servant, the kind of person who should run for and serve in public office, but too seldom does.”
Boyle never lost his sense of humor, according to Coats. During one of their last conversations, Boyle mentioned that he missed his family greatly and “longed for a chicken fried steak.”
THF board member Bob Bettis, who participated with Boyle in a group modeled after Ben Franklin’s Junto Club, said the men’s group met monthly for 50 years to dine and discuss topics of morals, politics, and philosophy. Of course, all was seasoned with John’s “special sauce.” Bettis stated, “It is with great sadness [we] learn that what can only be characterized as a saga has come to a close.”
Another member of that circle said that “John’s opinions…were meant to inform…not create a barrier or make light of another’s opinion.” The same friend recalled John’s skill as a storyteller:
“Who can forget the boisterous laugh and speedy cadence when [John] was telling one of his many tales about the ‘old’ days of Irving’s politics and growth, the pitfalls of the Texas legislature, or an [anecdote] regarding one of the many infamous individuals he knew? John probably had a story about every politico, scam artist, or noted citizen of the city. And listening to John generally brought a broad smile or chuckle.”
John Boyle called Sam Houston one of his Texas heroes because of the statesman’s courage, intelligence, and, “because he liked bourbon whiskey.” There may be no more fitting send-off then for John Boyle than to raise your glass and bid farewell to a man who was a great Texan, friend to so many, and a shining example to all he met.
You may contribute to THF’s mission to preserve Texas history in memory of John Boyle here.