Kathryn (Kay) Boyer (93) passed from this world March 13, 2022 at RiverMead Lifecare Community, Peterborough, NH surrounded by her loving family. Kathryn was the wife of the distinguished educator Ernest Boyer, who held the top education post in the nation under President Carter. She recounted their 40 years together in her 2014 memoir Many Mansions. She was a pioneer in natural childbirth and holistic health, insisting that her own births proceed without the drugs that were typical of that era. Later, as a midwife, she inspired others with these values. A devout Christian, blessed with an endless joy of life, she never stopped thinking of ways to help those in need or to support her family in whatever way she could.
Kathryn Garis Tyson was born Oct. 16, 1928 in Creamery, PA to Isaiah and Katie Tyson, a devout Brethren in Christ (Anabaptist) family. Her father died when she was an infant and her grandparents took in the family of six. The stories of growing up on the farm of her Grandma Garis remained some of her fondest memories in her old age. For high school she boarded at Messiah College in Grantham, PA where she met her beloved husband, Ernest Boyer of Dayton, Ohio. After graduating from nursing school, she and her husband moved to Florida where he was the pastor of a small church. When he was offered a teaching position at Upland College in California they moved across the country. As her husband rose through the ranks in the academic world, she took on the demanding role of hostess for important gatherings. They moved to Albany, NY in 1965 when he joined the State University of New York system, eventually becoming its chancellor.
The next move was to Washington when he was appointed Commissioner of Education by President Carter in 1977. It was here she was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of training to become a midwife. She delivered many babies in her career, including some of her own grandchildren and others under difficult conditions in Belize where one of her sons and his family lived. She was president of the American College of Nurse Midwives Foundation and founded a program to educate teenage mothers on parenting and help them stay in school. Later she received an honorary degree for her service from Hood College in Maryland.
She moved to Princeton, NJ in 1981 when her husband was named president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. After his death in 1995 she was active in the community and her church in Princeton. She organized a women’s Bible fellowship, formed a Chinese women’s group, and managed a marriage-support group for women where her gracious leadership and contagious enthusiasm for life forged long-lasting friendships. The last years of her life were spent in Peterborough, New Hampshire at RiverMead Lifecare Community.
She is survived by her sister Esther Tyson Boyer of Chico, California, sons Ernest, Jr. (Sondy) of Sunnyvale, California, Craig (Flora) of Rosebud, Texas, Paul (Hilary) of Ithaca, NY, daughter Beverly (Dale Coye) of Wilton, NH, 15 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at the former Perkiomen Valley Brethren in Christ Church (46 Trappe Rd. Collegeville, PA) at 4 PM on May 21, 2022.
In lieu of flowers please send contributions to the American College of Nurse Midwives Foundation www.midwife.org/ACNM-Foundation.