Man in an Army helmet with a cross on the front.

Chaplain, Reverend Ralph Pierre Boyd

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

With Memorial Day just passed, we should honor a former member of our church family who served his country in the military and for this May that would be the Reverend Ralph Pierre Boyd. Boyd succeeded Reverend Carl Olson in 1940 coming to us from a church in Alabama. Prior to his tenure in Alabama, Boyd had served a church in Gardiner, Maine. Reverend Boyd was born on January 30, 1909 and was raised in Akron by his adoptive parents, Samuel and Leona Boyd. Samuel Boyd was a machinist and Leona Boyd worked for one of the Akron tire companies. Ralph was raised in the Universalist church and was befriended by the minister there, Reverend George Baner. Baner’s influence was strong as Boyd developed the desire to serve as a Universalist minister.

Reverend Boyd’s installation service with our church was held on January 5, 1940. Boyd’s stay in Cincinnati was, however, relatively short as he had a deep desire to obtain a position in the U. S. Army as a chaplain. He was accepted as such and informed the Board of Trustees on July 17, 1941, that he was to report to active duty at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, on July 21st. Boyd’s term of service was for one year. He hoped to then return to the pulpit in Cincinnati but the board rejected his proposal. They were unwilling to commit to such an arrangement. Perhaps the looming threat of war deterred them from a long-term agreement. If the U.S. became embroiled in the European conflict, Boyd would be serving for the duration. Of course, that is exactly what happened and war intervened. Records for Boyd’s service have not been located. We know he was stationed in England during 1943 and actually arranged with the BBC and WCPO to send a broadcast to Cincinnati from England. It is assumed that Boyd’s service lasted for the duration of World War II. He left the military with the rank of Major. Following his military service, it is known he resumed his peacetime ministerial career and served as a minister in the Universalist Church in Nashua, New Hampshire, from 1947 to 1950.

Ralph and his wife, Gladys Minerva, were the parents of three daughters, Judith, Patricia and Suzanne. His wife was a social worker and served the Council on Aging in Maine. Reverend Boyd passed away in St. Augustine, Florida on July 13, 1979 and he is interred with his wife in Craig Memorial Park Cemetery there.

Image: WW II Army Chaplain (reenactor)

Image courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts via Wikimedia Commons.