Melissa K. Boyce, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother was welcomed into the arms of the Lord she served so faithfully her entire life, in the early morning hours of March 24, 2020, in Boca Raton, Florida, where she and her husband of 67 years, Paul E. Boyce, had moved to spend their later years close to daughters who had chosen to make Florida their residence. She leaves behind her husband, four children, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Melissa was born in Providence on July 26, 1932, the fifth of nine children born to Byron Sykes Hodgeman, a Vermont carpenter, and Marion Peck, a Rhode Island school teacher who traced her ancestry back to the Mayflower, both buried in Stevens Corner Cemetery in Rehoboth, which will now be Melissa's final resting place.
Melissa grew up alongside her eight siblings in East Providence, endured the lean years of the Great Depression and attended junior high and high school before enrolling in Rhode Island College. She met the love of her life, Paul Eugene Boyce, who was studying to be a minister at Zion Bible Institute. They were married on New Years Eve, 1952, in Luke, Maryland, where Paul had grown up, but they quickly returned to Rhode Island to begin their married life together.
Melissa and Paul raised four children in East Providence, David Boyce, Stephen Boyce, Susan Chandler and Melissa Ann Pereira, who live, respectively, in Texas, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Florida. Melissa was a wonderful mother who raised her children with love and tenderness, but also with the firmness and discipline of the New England school teacher she later became. She and Paul raised their children in the Christian faith that both held dear.
As each of her children left home, got married, moved away, sometimes far away, Melissa's devotion to what became her extended family never wavered. She followed her children's careers, welcomed their own children into the world, wrote letters, remembered and celebrated their birthdays, called, visited them as often as she could (she became quite the traveler in time), counseled and encouraged them in good times and bad, played games with her grandchildren (she loved board games), saw the Grand Canyon and the Colorado Rockies, Aruba and London. She brought joy into the lives of her children and grandchildren and blessed that younger generation with the same love, kindness and gentleness of spirit she had shown her own children.
At an age most people have long settled in their careers or daily routines, she went back to school, obtained her college degree and began teaching the "little ones" as she called them at Dayspring Christian Academy in South Attleboro. Her dedication to the Lord was expressed through the ministry of teaching. She considered it her calling and labored tirelessly to lift up the Name of Christ to each student, knowing she was imparting eternal truths to impact next generation of Christian leaders. The patience and discipline she employed in raising her own children made her an exceptional teacher, loved and respected by students who had the good fortune to be in her classes during the 25 years or so she dedicated to teaching, before she reluctantly left that profession at 73 years of age.
She and Paul enjoyed their retirement years in East Providence for a good while, eventually purchasing a part time residence in Delray Beach, Florida and then finally, in their eighties, moving permanently to Florida where the climate was more forgiving and they could be near their devoted daughters. Even in those later years, Melissa continued to travel to visit her children, grandchildren, and, beginning seven years back, her great grandchildren, who were a source of endless delight to her, yet another generation who experienced her kindness and gentleness, along with her chocolate chip cookies and apple pie. The love she had for Paul, her lifelong companion, manifested in daily visits to the nursing home where he has resided the past 15 months, where they sat and shared quiet times by the duck pond outside.
Melissa was one of those people who believed steadfastly in heaven and the joy of reuniting with her departed loved ones there, especially her mother, but she also lived this life to the fullest, reveling in the simple pleasures, a good cup of coffee, a walk by the sea, the glory of a New England autumn on a country road, hot Rhode Island clam chowder or some blueberry pancakes soaked in Vermont maple syrup, the laughter of a child, lights shimmering in the reflection of a pool, but above all, the presence of her loving family, whose warmth and light she basked in and who, in turn, shone more brightly because of the love she unfailingly gave to them. She has been to all of us in her extended family a guide, an inspiration, the best example of a pure Christian life, a beacon of hope and light in our lives and we will all miss her dearly.
Due to restricted travel, funeral arrangements will be postponed until the end of April.
Published in The Providence Journal from Mar. 28 to Mar. 29, 2020.