In Memory of William Boyce
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William Boyce

April 13, 1949 – May 16, 2009

“A caring man who loved people.”


That was how Rev Douglas Moore described Willie Boyce at his funeral service last week. Born on April 13th 1949, Willie passed away in his 60th year on May 16 after a year long battle with illness. The middle brother of three, Willie was brought up on Dailly Road and attended Carrick Academy, primary and senior departments.


As a young boy, Willie started a lifelong association with the Boys’ Brigade. Starting in the Life Boys at the age of nine, he moved into the company section aged 12 years. Willie moved through the ranks before being awarded the Queens Badge, the highest order of merit for a boy in the Boys Brigade, a feat achieved by all three brothers, delighting their parents. Willie eventually became captain of the local BBs.


After leaving school, Willie started in the Co-operative, both in store and in the baker’s van.

He then moved on to International Packaging, and on a night out in Glasgow with his close friend Hugh Ward, he met Margaret at the then named ‘White Elephant’. It must have been love, as Willie somehow managed to convince Margaret to leave the city lights behind for married life in a cottage on the outskirts of Maybole.


Willie and Margaret married on December 3, 1977, at St Paul’s in Glasgow. Shortly after, he left Interpak and began a 30 year career with the Scottish Ambulance Service, making many friends and fast becoming a well known face in the town. Through his work in the Ambulance Service and his captaincy of the Boys Brigade, Willie was one of the most recognisable faces in Maybole, and one of its most respected sons.


“Serving as an ambulance technician for 30 years was an ideal job for Willie,” said Rev Moore, “because he was a caring man who loved people. He was highly regarded in his profession.


“In December 1999, he was awarded a Scroll of Appreciation for services to the community and, just a few years ago, attended a Garden Party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.


“Willie was one of these persons who were always doing something. He seemed to have loads of energy.


“As if a demanding job was not enough, he was involved in the Boys’ Brigade. In fact, 50 years of his life was linked to the Boys’ Brigade.


“Such was his dedication; I am told that on occasion he took the company when he was on call. So, yes, sometimes a BB captain takes parades wearing a green boiler suit!”


Rev Moore continued, “Willie was a family man. He and Margaret met in what was called The White Elephant in Glasgow. Willie’s friend Hugh also met his wife Terry there.


“I say friend but Hugh was more like an adopted brother. Willie and Margaret, Hugh and Terry had many happy times together.


“Married for 31years, Margaret was supportive of Willie and all that Willie was able to achieve with the BB, was in no small way, helped by Margaret being there when needed.


“Willie and Margaret had a good marriage blessed by three children, Rebecca, Rachael and Fraser.”


His work and his service to the town brought Willie great pride, but he was most proud of raising three happy, healthy children. Rebecca, Rachael and Fraser will always remember a loving, caring father who put their needs and well-being above his own. The fruits of Willie’s labour funded all three of them through university, and they say that this, combined with the example their father gave them, has set them up well for life.


Willie loved to travel and did so extensively, visiting his brother Martin in South Africa numerous times, as well as visiting Australia and multiple trips to America. With friends Hugh and Terry, Margaret and Willie enjoyed many holidays, and had planned to enjoy many more with retirement approaching.


Rev Moore added, “Even though Willie loved travelling and seeing the world, he always came back to Maybole.


“He was awfully proud, in the right way, of Maybole. Born and brought up here, he spent his working life here.”


Rev Moore said that Willie was good at drawing and sketching and he also liked listening to music, especially country and western.


“The sudden onset of his illness came as a shock to many,” he said, “but Willie bore it with typical dignity and not complaining.


“We are left in his passing, as in his life, with that sense of quiet dignity.”


At the funeral service, Willie’s son Fraser also spoke, “I struggle today to find any words true enough to describe a man who spent his entire life putting the interests of others above his own.


“It is clear today, as I look at how many people have turned up to pay respects to my dad, as it has been all week when apparent strangers stop me in the street and tell me how wonderful a man my dad was, that the world is a poorer place without him.


“I was planning to give an example of exactly why this is the case, but anyone here today will have a story of their own, and for a life lived so true, filled with so many acts of random kindness and sustained by a relentless desire to care for other people, no one example seems appropriate.


“The disease which eventually took Willie from us did not do it at once. Gradually, it stole many of the things which made my dad the capable man he was, but even this most complex of diseases with the most hopeless prognosis was powerless to change the essence of the man nor the qualities that truly defined him.


“Right to the end my dad was the caring gentle giant he had always been, not an unkind word left his mouth.


“For my family, the only comfort I can offer is that the suffering and the grief we feel today is ours; it is not dad’s, for he is at peace. The enormity of the void that my dad leaves behind merely represents the great pride that must be yours, Mum, for a man so complete, who loved you so completely. And the immense privilege, Rebecca and Rachael, that is surely ours, for a man whom it was an honour enough to have known, was a man who, above all else, was proud that we were his own.”


Willie Boyce was one of Maybole’s most popular sons, and over a lifetime spent in the town, he endeared himself to everyone he knew.


His passing leaves an obvious void in the lives of Margaret, Rebecca, Rachael, Fraser and his brothers Martin and Edward.


The town has lost one of its most active servants, and the large turnout at his funeral last Thurday May 21 was testament to just how well thought of Willie was, and how sadly he will be missed. The funeral was at Maybole Cemetery after the service in Maybole Baptist Church.

 I was quiet at school drawing being my happiest activity - I was bullied a bit - but I came through it all thanks to one person, Willie Boyce. I remember him looking out for me and being a true friend. More than forty years have passed I never saw Willie again but I will never forget him or his kindness. Philip Maltman London (June 20th 2009)