“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honor.” Prov 21:21
Derwood Ray Boyles was promoted into Glory on Oct. 13, 2020. He was born on March 20, 1928, to Silas Boyles and Lurline Windham Boyles in Lorena, Mississippi. His mother died at his birth, but when he was 18 months old, his Dad brought a new bride home and it was love at first sight for Derwood and his new mother, Ethel Carr Boyles. The young family lived in Forest, MS where Derwood began the first grade. His family then moved to Jackson where he lived the rest of his life.
When Derwood was nine years old he lived three blocks from the newly formed Jackson MS Boy’s Club. As many as 300 boys attended the early Boy’s Club, but Derwood was the fourth boy to “officially” join and he spent most of his free time there through high school as did his closest friends. It was a place to hang-out in a wholesome environment, play games, be with friends, and play sports. Derwood was the one-time ping-pong champion. When he was in the tenth grade he was on the Boy’s Club Basketball Team which challenged the Central High School Basketball “B” Team and won. The next year, the Boy’s Club boys were THE varsity basketball team for Central High School. Derwood served as manager of that team and the football team. He graduated from Central High in 1946, but the friends he made on Hiawatha Street and at Central High remained his good friends for life. The skills he learned there helped make him into the caring, community leader he became.
Derwood and many of his close friends earned their Boy Scout Eagle award. He was also a member of the Order of the Arrow. Derwood was extremely proud that his son, son-in-law, all four of his grandsons, nephew and great-nephews are Eagle Scouts.
Derwood began his love for the military as a ROTC cadet while attending Central High School in Jackson. He joined the navy near the end of World War II after graduating from Central and because of his ROTC training (and being an Eagle Scout), was picked to be the squadron leader at boot camp even though most of the guys were much larger than he. Most of his tour of duty was in the Mediterranean area. His ship, the Providence, was the flag ship of the fleet and the sailors were encouraged to meet the local people in their ports of call. On one occasion he and a buddy were walking through the Vatican (in uniform) and a Swiss Guard stopped them and asked if they would like to see the Pope. He said the Pope enjoyed meeting the U.S. servicemen. He put them in a small room and in a few minutes Pope Pius XII appeared and talked with the two awe-struck young men for about 20 minutes asking about their families and their future plans.
Derwood returned to Mississippi to graduate from Mississippi State College (now University) in 1951 with a degree in Accounting. He is a lifelong member of SAE fraternity.
In 1952 he joined Dreyfus Insurance Agency after his uncle, Felix Daniels, bought the agency and offered Derwood the opportunity to go into business with him. Dreyfus, founded in l893, was one of the oldest insurance agencies in Mississippi. In 1969 Mr. Daniels retired, Andy Moak joined Derwood and the agency became Boyles Moak. Derwood was blessed with outstanding partners over the years. He continued to go to the office to see his “office family” every day until he was 90. He won many insurance industry awards during his career and was inducted into the Mississippi State University Insurance Hall of Fame in 2007.
Derwood was President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce when he met Regina Harlan, who was serving as Miss Jackson. On December 17, 1957, Derwood and Regina were married on national television (Bride and Groom), NBC, in Rockefeller Center, New York City. Their love continued to grow for over 62 years.
In 1974 Derwood worked diligently with the Mississippi Legislature to pass the bill which created the Mississippi Deferred Compensation Plan for public employees, among the first in the nation. This tax-deferred savings plan, which is overseen by the Board of the Public Employees Retirement System, proved to be a valuable financial service for employees of the State of Mississippi and is still very active today. Derwood’s early involvement helped assure that the Mississippi Plan would become one of the country’s most successful 457 plans. Derwood loved Jackson and helping others, so it was not surprising that he served three terms on the Jackson City Council.
Derwood was a retired Colonel with 28 years of service with the Mississippi Army National Guard. He enjoyed his time and made many life-long friends in the Navy and in the Guard. He remained active in veteran and military organizations during the remainder of his life. He served as state chairman of the Employers in Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) for several years and was recipient of the Spirit of Volunteerism Award 2006 given by the Defense Department. The Medal for Exceptional Public Service, the highest level public service award given by the DOD, was also awarded to Col. Boyles by Assistant Secretary of Defense at a ceremony in Washington, D. C.
Derwood was a life-long supporter of the Jackson Metropolitan Boys and Girls Clubs, serving for many years on the Board and as President of the Board in 1973-1974. He was presented with both the coveted National Silver and National Gold Medallion awards. Derwood’s main purpose throughout his life was to help others and many organizations were the recipients of that objective.
He served on the Board of Trustees for Wesley Biblical Seminary and for many years working diligently for the success of that institution. He served over 30 years as President of the Board of Community Place, a non-profit nursing home. He served on the Corporation Board of United Methodist Senior Services of Mississippi, Inc. and on the Legislative Committee for the Mississippi Health Care Association. Derwood and Regina were members of Calliope Club and long time supporters of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. He was a loyal supporter of MS State University.
Derwood was a Past President of Jackson Jaycees, the Jackson Touchdown Club, Hinds County Chapter of Mississippi State University Alumnae and Jackson Association Insurance Agents; former Board member of Boy Scouts of America, Hiawatha District; a former Chairman of the Secretariat of the Mississippi Methodist Cursillo; a Gideon, Mason and a Shriner. Derwood was honored with numerous awards during his years of community service.
Derwood was a 50+ year member of Broadmeadow United Methodist Church where he served in many positions and went on multiple mission trips to Honduras, Alaska and Russia. Derwood seldom missed his Monday Men’s Bible Study at Sonny Steel’s office.
At age 74, Derwood received the Compestello award for walking the last 76 miles over the ancient route of rocks and peaks of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) across northern Spain, which he did in three and a half days. The 386 mile Camino is one of the three most important pilgrimages undertaken by Christian believers in the Middle Ages with Rome and Jerusalem being the other two. Thousands still walk the Camino each year. Derwood and Regina traveled extensively during his lifetime, but the faith-based trips were among the most memorable.
Derwood was an avid golfer and sometimes tennis player. He was a big sports fan, always cheering for the teams of his children, grandchildren and Mississippi State.
His children and grandchildren were the joy of his life. Derwood was always a caring and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather, “Pop,” who set an example of faith that his family has followed. He was a patient, wise, generous and loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. His gentle sense of humor was legendary among his friends and family.
Derwood is survived by his wife, Regina Harlan Boyles. Other survivors are son, MG Janson Durr Boyles (Robin) of Jackson; daughter, Jennifer Boyles McCall (Joseph) of Cartersville, GA; grandchildren Durwood Graham (Gray) Boyles and Connor Boyles of Dallas, TX; Carter McCall, Sarah Douglas McCall and Matt McCall (Laura) of Knoxville, TN; daughter-like family friend, Susan Lee Brinson (John) and their children Johnathan and Jasmine of Charlotte, N.C.; sister, Joy Boyles Boleware of Dallas; brother-in-law William B. Harlan (Pat) of Brandon; two nieces, a nephew and many much-loved cousins.
The family wishes to thank Dr. George Patten, caregivers Daryl and Mary, and especially Debby Gooch and her outstanding staff at Beau Ridge Memory Care Assisted Living for their compassionate love and care of Derwood.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Wesley Biblical Seminary, Community Place, MS Methodist Cursillo or Boys and Girls Club of Central Mississippi. Honorary pallbearers are members of the Board of Trustees of Wesley Biblical Seminary, Board of Directors of Community Place, MS Committee of ESGR and members of Sonny Steele’s Mens Bible Study.
Visitation will be on Sunday, October 18, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm o’clock. at Parkway Funeral Home on Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland. A Service of Celebration will be held at Broadmeadow United Methodist Church at 11:00 am on Monday. Masks and distancing will be observed.