On Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011, Wilson lost one of its most dedicated leaders when Dr. Edna Earle Boykin, 90, died following a courageous battle with cancer.
A graveside service will be held Wednesday, at 11 a.m. at Maplewood Cemetery, Old Section.
Born on Dec. 14, 1921, Edna was a life-long resident of Wilson, a community she loved and to which she was deeply committed. She was predeceased by a strong-willed and loving mother, Mrs. Annie Draughn Boykin and a supportive uncle, Larry Draughn.
Dr. Boykin graduated from the Wilson City Schools (grades 1 through 11), received an associate’s degree from St. Mary’s College, a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro (Woman’s College at Greensboro), a master’s degree from Columbia University Teachers College (New York), a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Professional Education from UNC/Chapel Hill, and a principal’s certificate from East Carolina University. Following a one-year teaching assignment in the Goldsboro public schools, she returned to Wilson where she taught at Margaret Hearne Elementary School for 20 years and was principal for 20 years until she retired on May 31, 1983. During her tenure she never missed a single day due to illness.
A major land developer, leader and patron of the arts in Wilson, Dr. Boykin supported the community both fiscally and physically, contributing generously of her time and resources to organizations crucial to Wilson’s progress. An outspoken, sometimes blunt, woman, Edna influenced a host of major decisions both on boards she served and in the community at large. Through all of her involvements Dr. Boykin maintained a keen sense of humor, often directed at herself. This trait served her best, perhaps, as she helped to raise thousands of children who passed through Margaret Hearne school. Her immeasurable influence as teacher and principal continues to shape generations of Wilsonians.
Edna’s two favorite past times were horticulture and collecting unique items of interest. She took great pride in her well-manicured lawn and gardens and the meticulously selected miniature pieces of farm equipment, ceramic birds and paintings of various Wilson County scenes. These unique presences in her home exemplified Edna Boykin’s intense belief that art enhances life at all levels. In her own inimitable manner she often articulated this undeniable conviction and backed it up with her personal support. Perhaps her most poignant public demonstration of this tenet was her tireless promotion of and generous contribution to ensuring the transformation of the Wilson movie theater into a performing arts center, now known as the Edna Boykin Cultural Center.
Frugally astute in financial matters and the community’s well-being, Dr. Boykin served many entities beyond her profession. She was a member of Wilson’s City Council, Atlantic Christian College’s (Barton’s) Board of Trustees, the Barton College/Wilson Symphony Board, Friends of the Hackney Library Board, the Wilson Arts Council Board, the Wilson County Library Board, the Carolina Family Health Care Board, Greenfield School Board of Trustees, Imagination Station Science Museum Board and the Wilson Chamber of Commerce Board. In addition, she served on several important commissions: She was a charter member of the Wilson Downtown Development Commission, the Wilson Historic Development Commission, The Wilson Historic Properties Commission, the Wilson Sesquicentennial Anniversary Commission and the Eastern Carolina Clean and Beautiful Commission. She was also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and a strong supporter of Wilson’s Whirligig Park. In all of these capacities, Dr. Boykin offered keen insights, business acumen, a unique understanding of the organizations and a genuine commitment.
For her leadership and devotion Edna received enviable recognitions. Some of them were an honorary Doctor of Education degree from Atlantic Christian College (Barton College), Barton College Trustee Emerita, first recipient of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award, the Wilson Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind Award, grand marshal of a Wilson Christmas parade and a Wilson County Board of Education Certificate of Appreciation.
Edna Earle Boykin will be greatly missed by professional colleagues, neighbors, friends and her “Girls of the Hood.” She deeply loved and appreciated those who cared for her so well during her tenaciously heroic struggle with cancer.
In lieu of flowers, all gifts in memory of Dr. Boykin should be made to The Wilson Arts Council, 124 Nash St. E, Wilson, NC 27893; the Boykin Scholarship funds at Barton College: Annie Draughn Boykin in Art, Larry T. Draughn in Music, Edna Boykin in Education, P.O. Box 5000, Wilson, NC 27893; the Wilson Community Health Center, 303 Green St. E, Wilson, NC 27893; or the charity of one’s choice.
Arrangements by Wilson Memorial Service, 2811 Fieldstream Drive, N, Wilson, 237-7171, www.wilsonmemorialservice.com.