Thomas D. Boyle, husband, father, grandpa and brother, was mercifully received into the loving arms of our Savior on June 28, 2019 surrounded by his family. He died of complications from Early-Onset Alzheimer’s - a disease that took him from our family years before his death.
Tom was born in Pocatello, Idaho on August 21, 1955 to Thomas L. and Winona Green Boyle. He claimed to have been raised in a house on a mountain (it was a little hill) where he often played near a big lake (it was a tiny pond).
He graduated from Pocatello High School in 1973 and enthusiastically enjoyed singing the Poky High Beer Song even though he never had a beer in his life.
A faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served in the Switzerland Geneva Mission from 1975-77, serving in areas where his father Tom served in the French Mission years before.
In 1980 while living in Provo, Utah preparing to apply to BYU Law School, Tom borrowed a typewriter from Julie Boxx, the girl next door who lived in his apartment complex. He liked that she was a little weird and wrote comedy playsthat were being produced at BYU. She liked his calm and steady nature. They became good friends for over two years until Julie threw caution to the wind and kissed him. They married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 29, 1983.
When Julie’s mother asked why Tom was the one, she said it was because he was loyal. All the other boys made her cry, but he made her laugh. When Tom and Julie told their young children the story of how they met, their son Ryan asked: “What’s a typewriter?
“Tom’s greatest joy was Julie and their three children, Tommy, Ryan and Katie. He was so proud of the strong people his sons and daughter had become. He admired and loved them so much. His children’s choice of spouses - Christyn Dorius, Angela Newland and Jonathon Daniel - and his three beloved grandchildren - Brinley, Vince and June blessed his life immeasurably even as his illness took hold.
In the legal profession that so often lacks decency and goodness, his honesty and integrity as an attorney – and as a man – was unsurpassed. He was humble. He was wise. He was open-minded. He was fiercely committed to doing what was right even when he had to stand alone. He stayed committed even when he was bullied, betrayed, and threatened. The legal profession took a toll on him. But if a cause was just, he would not back down from it. It was not in his nature.
Tom was, simply put, a good man.
He fought toxic cement plants, powerful elected officials and corrupt lawyers. He was not a fan of Hallmark movies. He loved Twizzlers, BYU sports, hiking, road trips, France, his Waxahachie Ward boy scouts, white New Balance shoes (he had at least 12 pairs of the exact same style over the years), Gold Bond powder, flossing his teeth, turning off lights, worming his way onto football fields and stages wherever and whenever his kids had events to get the best photo and video shots (to their absolute horror). He once tried to save his family from a tornado by hiding them in a hallway under a bed mattress, nearly smothering them. He also once intentionally grabbed a scalding hot fry pan that had exploded into flames and carried it outside to protect his family from danger. He had a large scar on his hand for the rest of his life as a result.
He was a master of the loving and compassionate “talk” with his children when they needed counseling. He loved his wife. When asked who his favorite superhero was, without hesitation he named her. He stood by her through infertility, miscarriages and breast cancer - on bad hair days and no hair days. Through it all he could still make her laugh.
Tom was an endearing combination of the Jimmy Stewart characters Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life - string bean tall and noble to the core. He was one of a number of Tom Boyles in the Boyle family, but there will never be another Tom Boyle like him.
A person stricken with Alzheimer’s often becomes invisible because of the stigma associated with the disease. Tom himself felt heartbreaking shame and embarrassment before and after his diagnosis. But even in his illness, there werestill so many times when he was funny and gentle and warm. There were still times when he was connected to the world and the people he loved. There were still times when he was him. It was his little granddaughter Brinley who showed us the way as she completely accepted her “Cranpa” just the way he was. She took his illness in stride and loved him in spite of it.
This devastating disease, made even more horrific by how early and viciously it ravaged his mind and imprisoned his spirit, brought our family to places of unbearable uncertainty and pain. He was our rock and protector for so long. Nothing mattered to him more than his family. We did our best to honor him and protect his dignity in this terrible journey none of us wanted to take - least of all him.
We are thankful for family and friends who have reached out to comfort and help us the past few years. Our family will be forever grateful to Tom’s sister, Jean Jensen, who selflessly stepped up to be a valiant co-caregiver. Her loving kindness and willingness to go through the hardest of days will never be forgotten. Special thanks as well to Rocky Mountain Hospice for their compassion these last few weeks. Also, a debt of gratitude is owed for the support and understanding from Julie’s employers and co-workers at Wright Development Group.
At his request, Tom was buried in Logan, Utah in a private family graveside service. He said early on there would be too much prolonged grief in this long goodbye and he wanted the simplest of burials. He said he did not need accolades, he needed us to move on until that time that we are able to be together again as a family. After the dedication of his grave, also at his request, we had lunch at his favoriterestaurant – Maddox in Brigham City. We shared stories about him - such as thetime he was convinced he had contracted rabies from a cat on our three acres in Texas. Another was the time he and Julie were living in Florida and he had to rescue her from a snake coming up the bathroom sink drain with a pair of hotdog tongs and a potholder. There are so many good Tom stories.
He had an unshakeable testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and was an example of living its principals in everything he did. We were blessed to have had him as the kind and loving patriarch of our family for as long as we did. Weknow he now waits for us with clearness of vision until the time we are with him again.
When he spoke at his father’s memorial service years ago he quoted Matthew 25:35-36, 40. Its meaning is especially tender to us now.
“I was a stranger, and ye took me in:Naked, and ye clothed me, I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
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Life Story Info
Julie, Tommy, Ryan, and Katie—
I just came across Tom’s obituary, and I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. I think about you all and your sweet family often. Tom was a good, kind man, and he impacted lives you’ll never know. I’m praying for your family—for peace in your spirits—and know you will see him again one day.
Julie and family.,
I want to mail you some photographs, and was searching for an address. When I came across Tom's obituary, I could not have felt more stunned. I am so very sad. I am sad that you and your family have to live without him right now. I worked with Tom at E. Thomas Bishop, P.C. in Dallas, Texas. As a result of his prowess during a particularly unpleasant deposition, he gained the nickname "the velvet hammer." Every word of Tom's obituary is right on the mark. I am happy I had the privilege of knowing him, and working with him for a while. May you have peace.
Julie and Tom, Jr.,
I am so saddened to learn of Tom's passing. It's been many years since we last spoke but his kind, calm nature beams forth into my memory from the profile photo at upper left.
I knew Tom as the gentle and fearless leader of our little band of "Davids" vs the cement "Goliaths" in the fight for clean air in our little Texas town. And came to know you all as a result of your being on the cover of a D Magazine article about his quest to clean up our air. (See: https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2005/may/no-place-like-home/)
I emailed you two today to let you know that what you two started some 15 years ago has not died, but lives on today. In fact, of late, it's gained new life from a group of young moms for clean air called Midlothian Breathe.
You can read about them here, in the Midlothian Mirror.
While I am so sad to learn of his passing, I am glad to have known a man of his character. And I'm sure he'd be pleased to know that his efforts from way back then are still making an impact today.
May he R.I.P.
I have no idea how I happened upon this obituary today. I don't know anyone in your family. This is simply the most beautiful, tender and loving tribute to any person that I have ever read. What a talent you have for writing. I have fallen in love with Tom Boyle from the amazing story and the photo you have added. What a peaceful, beautiful man he is with amazing blue eyes.
I think it is funny that he didn't like Hallmark movies because I know and love them all and I think your story should be made into one. Even though I am much older than he was, I so wish I could have met him. Two of my dearest friends currently are suffering the wretchedness of Alzheimer's. At this time there is no embarrassment to them because they are so unaware of their circumstances. It makes me sad that Tom was embarrassed by his unfortunate illness. That must have been very painful for you all. I will be praying for your comfort. Thank you for writing this amazing tribute. My life is richer for having read it.
I knew Tom in high school at "Poky High." A lot of kids hung out at the seminary building and became great friends. Tom was always a good guy; kind and funny and fun.
I ran into Tom a couple of times in downtown Salt Lake; always good to see him.
I was very touched by his life story. So sweet to see he never changed. What wonderful memories.
May Heavenly Father bless your family.