Mary Jane Gnann Boykin, 96, passed away Sept. 22, 2013, at home following an extended hospital stay and a long illness. She was preceded in death by her husband of 70 years, Noble Louis Boykin Sr.
Mrs. Boykin was born in Rincon on May 23, 1917, the daughter of the late Dr. Andrew Gnann and Ava Shields Gnann.
She was a member of the first graduating class of Armstrong College in 1936. Because Armstrong was at the time a two-year college, she also went on to graduate from Georgia Southern with a degree in elementary education.
While teaching in Sylvania, she met Noble, her husband-to-be. They were married in November 1942, just before Mr. Boykin entered the Army
in World War II. When Mr. Boykin entered the service, Mrs. Boykin traveled with him to a number of his duty locations, including Bainbridge, Md., Williamsburg, Va., and Chicago, Ill. While stationed at Camp Wheeler in Macon, she participated in the war effort, working at a nearby aircraft assembly plant and at a munitions plant.
At the end of World War II, Mr. and Mrs. Boykin and their daughter Barbara moved from Sylvania to Tybee Island and to Pooler in 1947. She taught at Pooler Elementary for over 20 years until her retirement in 1981.
In addition to teaching, Mrs. Boykin was an accomplished pianist, having studied piano at the Jarrell School of piano in Savannah. She also taught piano and was the pianist for Pooler School during her tenure there as a teacher. Mrs. Boykin taught Sunday school for a number of years at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Savannah as well.
She also was an avid gardener and bird-watcher who enjoyed nature and the outdoors. She served as an officer of the Pooler Garden Club for a number of years. She used to recount that she learned to swim in the black water of Ebenezer Creek and on one occasion, as a child, saved her infant brother Jimmy from drowning when he jumped from the bank into the creek with the older children. Later in life, she and her sister-in-law Carolyn swam across St. Catherine's Sound, though she would always add that she didn't recommend it.
After her retirement, she and her husband renovated a historic home in Sylvania, which they maintained as a second residence. They also maintained a home at south Forest Beach on Hilton Head Island where they spent many happy summer weekends.
She was an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Savannah, since 1993, and was a lifetime member of the Georgia Salzburger Society, of which her father was a founding member.
Mrs. Boykin is survived by two daughters, Barbara Johnson (Glenn) of Marietta and Margaret Palmer (Woody) of Okatie, S.C.; a son, Noble Boykin Jr. of Savannah; four grandchildren, Margaret Johnson Smith of Cochran, Andrew Johnson of Marietta, Anna Boykin and Caroline Boykin of Savannah; and two great grandchildren, Allie Smith and Nicholas Smith of Cochran. She is also survived by her brother, James (Jimmy) Gnann. She was preceded in death by two brothers, Andrew David Gnann Jr. of Savannah and Dr. William (Billy) Gnann of Columbus.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank Mrs. Boykin's long-time caregivers, particularly Lydia Miller of Guyton, who cared for her for more than five years. The family also thanks Gloria McCoy of Savannah for her devoted service as well.
Visitation was held Tuesday, Sept. 24 from 6-8 p.m. at Thomas Strickland and Sons Funeral Home, 901 Highway 80 West in Pooler. Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 11 a.m. at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension, 120 Bull St. in Savannah. A brief reception will follow the service. Parking at the church is available in the church parking lot at the corner of State and Drayton streets or at the State Street parking garage located on the northeast corner of State and Drayton streets. Interment will be at the Jerusalem Lutheran Church Cemetery (Ebenezer) on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m.
Remembrances may be given to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension, 120 Bull St., Savannah, GA 31401 or to the Jerusalem Lutheran Church Cemetery Fund, 2966 Ebenezer Rd., Rincon, GA 31326.