At the age of 93, retired U.S. naval officer David Boyd’s time is invaluable.
“At my time of life, time is my most important commodity,” he told Noozhawk, “because the time horizon is short.”
While some people might use their later years in life for self-centered endeavors, Boyd takes the opposite approach; he freely gives his time and chooses to volunteer. He’s been doing it consistently for the past 20 years in Santa Barbara.
For his efforts, Boyd will be honored as Santa Barbara’s Man of the Year at a Sept. 4 ceremony at the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. The 76th Man & Woman of the Year Awards are sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, Noozhawk, TVSB and Bryant & Sons Jewelers.
Jelinda DeVorzon is the Woman of the Year.
Over the past two decades, Boyd has volunteered for the Montecito Emergency Response & Recovery Action Group (MERRAG), Transition House, Casa Esperanza/PATH, Cleveland School, Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County, People’s Self-Help Housing, Carpinteria Children’s Project, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara County Elections Office, and St. Brigid Fellowship of St. Athanasius Orthodox Church.
But it is his connection with All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito that has served as his strongest bond, and fueled him to give so much of his time.
He describes his life is “faith-based” and says he has been strongly supported by his wife, Alyce. The two have been married for 68 years and have three children.
“We definitely feel that we are Jesus’ hands in doing these things to help others,” Boyd said. “We know from the Bible that Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and the prostitutes so we wanted to be down on that level where the rubber meets the road in helping people.”
Life has come full circle for Boyd, who grew up in Montecito and graduated from Santa Barbara High School. He attended All Saints with his family as a youth, but back then he had what he said were “normal teenage interests.”
When he returned to Santa Barbara with his wife in 2000, they became deeply involved at All Saints.
Boyd learned about All Saints’ connection to Transition House, which assists homeless families, and he started providing a dinner every month and helping to pack lunches for its clients. He also volunteered at the shelter once a month to help prepare food.
In Boyd’s modest telling, he says he has been fortunate to have enjoyed a blessed life so he feels a responsibility to help others who are less fortunate.
“I lived a very loving relationship in a family that had enough money to have the necessities and many of the comforts of life,” he said. “My father was a career Army officer. We went through the Depression while he was in the military so I did not experience the hardships that many, many children of that era experienced.
“I felt that through life and with my own service in the military, I felt very fortunate not to be challenged financially during my life.”
For much of his career, Boyd served in the Navy, retiring in 1980 as a captain. He and his wife met while he was attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where she was working as an assistant librarian at the academy. They married in 1951.
“We’re proud of that,” Boyd joked about their longevity as a married couple. “It’s becoming more rare these days.”
He said Alyce made his career possible.
“A Navy wife is a very important part in someone being successful in the Navy, because if the spouse can’t put up with frequent moves then people don’t stay in the military if their partner doesn’t embrace it,” Boyd explained.
Boyd served aboard nuclear-powered submarines and was assigned two tours of duty at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
“As a teenager I was sort of intrigued by complex machinery, and submarines are very complex,” he said. “They have thousands of valves, switches and gauges, and you have to know about those things so it was a real challenge I rose to.”
Boyd said he loved every aspect of serving in the military, although it came with sacrifices.
“I was gone for important times in our children’s lives,” he said. “You sort of have to make up for that around the ages later on, but no question about it, it is hard.”
After his retirement from the Navy, Boyd embarked on a career manufacturing circuit boards at a plant in Anaheim, where he commuted from Los Angeles for the nine-to-five office job.
“It was exciting,” he said. “It was a simpler life in the 1980, 1990 time frame than it is now.”
More recently, during the December 2017 Thomas Fire and after the deadly Jan. 9, 2018, flash flooding and mud and debris flows in Montecito, Boyd served as a member of MERRAG team, staffing a kiosk in the Upper Village and providing information, maps and lists of resources. He was also among MERRAG volunteers who supported the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade with two-way radio communications at different work sites around the devastated community.
In addition to volunteering, Boyd consults for the Energy Department on topics such as radioactive waste sites.
Through all his endeavors, professionally and personally, Boyd has remained strong in his faith and has lived a fulfilled and meaningful life.
“The future certainly is going to be challenging,” he said. “My connection with our church, All Saints, has given me a good feeling of what comes after death. I can see all sorts of opportunities and challenges in the future for young folks. I am glad I lived during the part of life up to this point.
“I feel good about what’s going to come after life. I am certainly not someone who is going to hang on tooth and nail to stay in this life because things are going to get more challenging in the future.”