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Boyer

Former Judge Tyrie A. Boyer remembered for sharp legal mind, strong faith

By Marilyn Young, Editor

There are a lot of great stories about the life of Tyrie A. Boyer.

The one about being the son of sharecroppers and growing up to become a brilliant judge.

The one about how the legal icon could write a good contract but was just as committed with a handshake.

The one about showing up for a party at the wrong house but not knowing it for a while.

And then there's the one about a knife fight with a deer.

Boyer, 89, died Tuesday night of cancer.

His storied legal career included serving as an appellate and Circuit Court judge, as well as a meticulous trial attorney.

Before attending law school, Boyer joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was a flight engineer in the Pacific Theater, an experience that his son, Tyrie W. Boyer, said he didn't talk about much.

"He talked about friends during the war," Boyer said. "But his experiences, not so much."

The beginning of a career

The elder Boyer was urged by his wife to go to college after the war. He graduated from the University of Florida law school in 1954 with honors, a proud accomplishment for a man who was raised during the Depression.

His time in public service began in 1960 when he was elected to the Civil Court of Record. Three years later, Gov. Farris Bryant appointed him to be a judge in Circuit Court, where he stayed four years.

In 1972, Gov. Reubin Askew appointed Boyer to the 1st District Court of Appeal, where he served as chief judge for two years of his term.

He left the appellate court in 1979.

Boyer said there is "no question" that he became a lawyer because of his father's influence.

The two were law partners in a firm that also included former Mayor Hans Tanzler.

The Boyers tried 10-12 cases together, splitting the duties

this way: The younger Boyer would present most of the evidence, while his father would

do almost all of the legal arguments.

"I don't think we lost a case that we tried together," said Boyer, who is currently a Circuit judge.

Great lawyer, great friend

Howard Coker said the elder Boyer was a great lawyer with a great mind.

"He was very good at analyzing the law. He had a very keen intellect," said Coker, who tried cases with and against Boyer.

Boyer's vast experience in the legal field helped him see the law from different viewpoints, Coker said.

"He had been a judge, he had been a lawyer. He was really the total package," Coker said.

And, he added, "He was one of the good guys."

Rudy Inman said Boyer was a loyal friend and a fellow Marine. (Boyer joined the Marine Reserves after serving in the Navy.)

Inman first appeared before Boyer as a young attorney.

"He had a command presence of a Marine colonel on the bench," Inman said. "I was honored to have been his friend."

Wrong party, deer fight

Inman laughed as he recalled the time he invited Boyer to a party at his home, but Boyer went to the wrong house.

When someone came up to refresh Boyer's drink, he asked: "Where's Rudy?"

The answer: "A couple of houses down."

And there's the knife fight with the deer.

The younger Boyer said his father was photographing trees on his farm at a time of year that happened to be mating season for deer.

A deer came from behind and attacked his father, Boyer said.

Boyer's obituary said he was "attacked, hooked and gouged" by the deer.

Ultimately, Boyer killed the deer with a pocket knife — a story that became famous in hunting circles.

Family man

The younger Boyer said his father's work ethic set a great example for him and his three siblings: Carol, Kennedy and Lee.

His parents were married 66 years before his mother, Betty, died in 2011.

Boyer said his father often shared great advice, such as: "Worrying is like a rocking chair. No matter what, you never go anywhere and you never get anything done."

Another favorite: "The difference between the difficult and the impossible is that the impossible takes a little longer."

Boyer said his father was a deeply religious man who "believed in God, country and family."

And, he said, "He was my absolute best friend. I was still going to him for advice up until the end."

Inman said the elder Boyer's mind was sharp to the end. "That's why it's so hard to have him gone."

He said The Florida Bar has a rule that once a judge retires, they can't officially be called judge anymore. That isn't how Inman feels about Boyer.

"They (the Bar) have got their rules and I've got mine," Inman said. "He was always judge to me."

myoung@jacksonville.com

@editormarilyn

(904) 356-2466

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