Boyd Webb Cole, a sixty year resident of the Central Valley, decorated WW-II Veteran and retired elementary school teacher
at Riverdale, died April 20, 2013 at the age of 93 in Lodi, CA.
Boyd was born January 31, 1920 near Shawnee, OK. He grew up on the 80-acre family farm there with his parents Arthur Lee Cole and Clara Lee Cole; brothers Rondel, Raymond, Marvin; and sister Gladys. Boyd was the youngest member of this farming family.
In November 1942 Boyd enlisted in the U.S. Army
Air Corps. After training as a gunner, he was deployed to England, traveling on the liner Queen Elizabeth. His first mission was on December 31, 1943 with a total of 27 combat missions on the B-17 Flying Fortress. Boyd was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group, 511th Bomb Squadron of the 8th Air Force. He flew as a ball turret gunner until his B-17 was nearly shot down on his 6th mission. Boyd received the purple heart
after being severely wounded on that mission. Boyd received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944 and was honorably discharged on May 12th, 1945.
After WW-II, Boyd attended Southeastern State University at Durant, Oklahoma where he met Retha Jean Haggard, whom he married in Lawton, Oklahoma in December 1953. The young couple moved to Riverdale, California in January 1954. Their first child, Steven Paul Cole, was born in October 1954 and their second child, Karen Louellen Cole (Alviso), was born at home in July 1956. In 1962 Boyd received his Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Southeastern State University. Boyd, Retha and the children traveled from California to Oklahoma and back again each summer during these early years allowing Boyd and Retha to continue their education at Southeastern where they met.
Boyd taught at Riverdale Elementary School for 28 years, teaching 6th grade for the majority of the time. After retiring from teaching in 1981, he substituted as a teacher for an additional 11 years, teaching Kindergarten through High School. Boyd was an active member of the Evangelical United Brethren Church continuing with the United Methodist Church in Riverdale. Boyd led a Boy Scout pack as Scout Master in the early to mid 1960's. Boyd was active in the Riverdale Lions Club, acting as the secretary for 17 years and president for 2 years. Boyd enjoyed tending a backyard garden at his home in Riverdale, family trips to the coast at Cayucos and camping, fishing and hiking in the Sierras. Boyd had a loving heart and especially enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren.
Boyd moved to Lodi, CA several years ago, living at The Vintage in Lodi. He enjoyed visits by his children and grandchildren and trips to the surrounding countryside with family and friends from The Vintage.
Boyd was preceded in death by his wife, Retha Jean Cole in December 2003. He is survived by his son Steven Paul Cole and granddaughter Vanessa Marie Cole of Los Alamos, NM; his daughter Karen Louellen Alviso and son-in-law Mark Alviso of Galt, CA; and his grandson Brandon Alan Alviso of Lodi, CA. Boyd is also survived by nephew Wayne Cole of Shawnee, OK; niece Elaine Potts of Tempe, AZ; niece Joann Piatt of Ardmore, OK; and nephew Dale Thompson of Vail, AZ. Boyd is also survived by sisters-in-law Corine Roberts and Edna Hennessee of Lawton, OK and brother-in-law Paul Haggard of Greenville, NC.
Graveside services with military honors for Boyd were on April 26th, 2013 and he was buried alongside his wife Retha Cole at Oak Grove Cemetery, located six miles east of Riverdale, California.