I learned Larry Boye, one of my directors for The Ball State University Singers, passed away.
Mr. Boye, or LB, as he was familiarly known, had a tremendous impact on my career with show choir arranging and show design/concept. I still rely on the foundations of programming and staging, today.
The end of my freshman year at BSU, May 1984, The Singers toured Greece, Cyprus, and Crete for two weeks. One morning as we were all planning our free day in Athens, Mr. Boye came up to the table at which I was sitting, tapped his fingers near my plate and motioned for me to follow him.
“Have you made your plans for the day?” I hadn’t. “Would you mind doing me a huge favor?” Certainly. “My son is graduating from Northside and due to the divorce, he is kind of sour on me, and rightfully so. I want to buy him a watch for graduation and I need your help finding one since you’re about his age.”
We spent the morning going to several shops, pausing for a late morning snack of ice cream – three softball size dips of strawberry, chocolate, and pistachio all for 30 drachmae (I handed the vendor 90 drachmae assuming it was 30 for each – heaven!).
Just before lunchtime, we stepped into a cinder block building that was a jewelry store. Mr. Boye had me look for a watch for his son. I spied one that I thought he might like and Mr. Boye approved. I found a hand-carved gold cross which I purchased for my self.
Mr. Boye treated me to lunch and we sat talking about a variety of things and he asked about my father. He’d met Mother and referred to her, several times, as “such a lovely woman…” and applauded her for raising her children on her own. I explained to Mr. Boye that my birth father, an abusive alcoholic, had left us when I was twelve and that I had no relationship with him. My biological father would die in a car wreck at the end of that year. Mr. Boye sat back in his chair, looked away, and said, “I’m sorry you went through what you did. Don’t live with it, ever. Move beyond it and create the life you want.” And, I did…
One evening, before heading off to a concert in a Grecian town square, we spent a lovely sunset dinner on a beach that was absolutely picturesque. Mr. Boye stopped me before we entered the seaside eaterie and said, “Here. It’s just a little something for assisting me with JD’s watch. I appreciate it.” I opened a velvet box to find a beautiful solid gold tie-tack.
Later that year, on Tuesday morning, December 18, I sat in the Coke Lobby of the BSU music building. My new step-father of only two days stopped by my dorm that morning to let me know my birth father had been killed in a car wreck the night before. I moved on with my morning, numb, somewhat uncertain how to react.
Mr. Boye came into the lobby, grabbed a cup of coffee from the vending machine and took a seat on the bench next to me and asked about my mother’s wedding the previous Saturday evening. The wedding’s orchestra and vocalists borrowed the powder blue tuxedos from The Singers.
“You’re not your self,” he interrupted after a few minutes of conversation. I explained what had happened. His reaction was the typical bold reaction I expected but then he sat back against the brick wall and looking ahead, said, “I remember our talk in Athens. Have you really lost anything with his death? Not really. Again, move on and create your own life.”
And, I did…
Several months later Mr. Boye would encourage me to hyphenate my last name as I prepared for my impending adoption by my step-father.
I relished Mr. Boye’s tremendous, often bawdy humor, admired his charm, appreciated his time to train me in the work I would later accomplish as an arranger, show designer, and director, and continue to cherish his paternal affection that so many of us received.
Rest in peace, Mr. Boye… thank you…
Larry Boye was the director for Disney’s “Kids Of The Kingdom” and The Ball State University Singers often performed portions of this medley.