James Hodo Boykin (Colonel, United States Army, Retired) passed into eternal life on Feb. 9, 2014, in Newnan, Ga. He was born in Jackson, Ala., on May 5, 1918, to Palmer Walker Boykin and Mary Sue Hodo Boykin and spent a happy childhood in Selma and then Maplesville, Ala. After graduating from high school as class valedictorian in 1935, he attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University), earning a BS in Electrical Engineering and becoming a life-long Auburn supporter.
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After college, Jim worked for the Southern Railway until he was called to active duty by the Army in September of 1940, which marked the beginning of an amazing career of service and sacrifice. Initially he served as an ROTC instructor at API and then was assigned to the 1st Engineer Amphibian Brigade. Through this assignment, he went on to participate in all of the major amphibious landings in the European theater: first Operation Torch in North Africa, and then amphibious landings in Sicily, Italy, and Utah Beach in Normandy (D-Day). He also participated in the Battle of the Bulge as part of the 3rd U.S. Army, the battle for the Remagen Bridge, and discovery of national treasures that had been hidden in German salt mines. His citations include the Legion of Honor, the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, and the French Croix de Guerre Avec Etoille de Vermeil.
Jim returned to the United States in June 1945 and married his beloved Etta Woodruff Breeden (now deceased), with whom he spent 61 happy years filled with love and adventure. For the next two years, he worked for Georgia Power Company and General Electric, before returning to a career with the Regular Army which lasted until 1968. His career in the Army took Jim, Etta, and their growing family to assignments in Virginia, Texas, Kansas, Georgia, California, Washington, D.C., Okinawa, and Germany. In addition, he served in the Korean War.
When he retired from the Army in 1968, Jim began a satisfying and challenging second career with Georgia Power Company. He participated in and supervised the building of several power plants, including Plant Bowen and Plant Yates. He also was responsible for mechanical design on existing plants. He made many dear friends during this second career and spoke fondly of being part of the Georgia Power family. When he retired in May 1983 as Vice President & Chief Engineer, Jim and Etta moved to Destin, Fla., to enjoy a happy, well-earned retirement together for the next 20 years.
Jim is survived by his four children and their spouses, Beth Boykin Haury (Cliff), James Hodo Boykin Jr. (Dana), John Wilmore Boykin (Karen Cooper), and Palmer Walker Boykin II (Kelley); as well as 14 grandchildren, Jim, Barbara, Cassie, Megan, Jessie, Ryan, Shelby, Ansley, Spencer, Phillip, Maggie, Danny, Andy, and Megan; and 10 great-grandchildren, Jack, Alexis, Asher, Clementine, Lola, Nadia, Parker, Carson, Logan, and Molly. He was a devoted and generous father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, who reaped immense joy from being with and helping those he loved. His stories and laughter could captivate a room, and we are grateful for the amazing family history he was able to recount in vivid detail. He was unshakably strong, determined and filled with compassion. Above all he loved and served the living God who welcomes him now. We will miss him more than words can say.
The family will receive friends on Feb. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m., at McLaughlin Mortuary, 17 Chestnut Ave SE, Fort Walton Beach. Funeral services will be conducted on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m., at St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 307 HWY 98 East, Destin. Interment will follow at Destin Memorial Cemetery.
Donations may be made in memory of James Boykin to St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 307 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, FL 32541.
Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at www.McLaughlinMortuary.com.
17 Chestnut Avenue SE
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News from Feb. 13 to Feb. 14, 2014