Ron Boyce says he came to work at SPC because his wife made him. Boyce was a financial advisor for American Express, and his wife, Cheryle, told him about a job posting that she thought he should pursue.
“She encouraged me to apply,” he recalled, “but I never did. On the morning that the posting was to close, she got me out of bed and made me get up and fill out the application.”
Her persistence paid off – not only for the Boyce family, but also for the many SPC employees who had the pleasure of working with Boyce. But 13 years later, Cheryle Boyce told her husband that it was time to retire, so he filed the HR paperwork and said goodbye to a crowd of wistful co-workers at his retirement party on June 28.
Boyce said that when he graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in sociology, he was planning to enter a career in social service, but his proficiency in computer science sidetracked him, and he wound up working in that field. But he plans to return to service in his retirement.
“God gave me a heart of service,” he said. “I’m going to work with the youth at my church, Countryside Christian Center.”
That desire to help others served him well in his work at SPC, which, in the field of Human Resources, sometimes involved giving people bad news.
“I was once someone who was laid off,” he said. “So who better to handle those issues than someone who has been there and understands what if feels like?”
Several people took the open mic opportunity at Boyce’s retirement party to thank him for his support and encouragement in personal, professional and academic endeavors. Community Relations Coordinator La’Kesha O’Neal recalled the impact that Boyce had on her life.
“I was working and taking classes full time and this one class was driving me crazy,” she said. “I told Ron I was thinking about dropping the class, and he told me to just get through it. I took it to heart, and now I’ve graduated and I’m working on my master’s degree. He’s just one of those people you can reach out to and get solid advice. Thank you for all the encouragement you’ve given me. Now I can take that forward and share it with others.”
Human Resources Director Desiree Woroner said that his compassion for helping others is a true gift.
“Ron has a way of lifting a person’s spirit in the moment they need it most,” she said. “I’ve witnessed Ron using his warm and generous spirit to help employees overcome difficult personal challenges – even my own. His time at the College was devoted to positively impacting people’s lives, even if the situation seemed hopeless.”
There was knowing laughter in the room when Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences Susan Demers recalled getting an email from Boyce that was familiar to many: Time to use your vacation days or lose them.
“But I received this email at 12:57 a.m. on a Sunday,” she said, “so I have to ask, whose priorities are out of line here?”
Boyce credited his team for the support that allowed him to do all the things he was being praised for. He said one of the things he would miss at SPC was the “unknown” nature of the work.
“I could never plan a day because something would come up to throw the day off,” he said. “But if things got too wacky, I’d go in my prayer closet or take a walk and God would center me and help me make sense of why I’m here.”
Boyce is not going to be sleeping in to celebrate retirement. In fact, the next few months will be dedicated to spending time with family, including his three beloved grandchildren. He and his wife will leave immediately for a month of travel, which will include stops in Atlanta, Miami, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., a black history tour of Montgomery and Birmingham, Ala., then on to Destin for some quiet beach time before returning home. The couple will head back to Atlanta in August, then to New York in September, then California in October.
Boyce, who had a hug for everyone in the room at his party, said that though he would miss his SPC family, change is just part of the human experience.
“This is just a season in life,” he said. “You have to know when it’s time to go. I don’t want to be like an athlete they have to cart off the field. I feel the love here today, just like I have the last 13 years. SPC has really embraced me, and I wish everyone here love.”