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Good guy behind a good cause

Published 11:06pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Some causes merit support simply out of respect for the people pushing them.

Doug Boyce rates that highly in my book.

The retired president of Paul D. Camp Community College wants to form a local support group for people with Parkinson’s, a neurological disease that hastened Boyce’s departure from the workforce and public life in 2010. Here’s hoping he gets a good response.

Boyce is one of the truly good guys on this earth whose vocation of higher education allowed him to impact many lives, young and old, during a distinguished career. Western Tidewater was blessed to be his last professional stop.

Boyce led “Paul D.,” as the two-year college is affectionately known in these parts, through a pivotal era following a major flood in Franklin and culminating with the loss of the anchor employer in its core market: International Paper’s Franklin mill.

Thanks to the groundwork laid by Boyce and his team in the immediate aftermath of IP’s 2009 announcement, hundreds of workers bounced back from the shock of their unemployment and quickly landed on their feet professionally with the training and placement help of the college.

PDCCC, under Boyce’s leadership, was a rock of stability during a difficult decade for the region.

Boyce’s career was cut short by his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2009, two years after he first noticed a tremor in his hand during his daughter’s wedding.

“They would appear and get progressively worse,” he said of the tremors. “I went to see a neurologist about it.

“My effectiveness was being impacted,” he said. “Parkinson’s reduced my ability to do simple daily tasks in a timely matter. Parkinson’s slows down muscle systems in the body and different ways. For me it meant that at work typing on a computer keyboard became slower and clumsier.”

Boyce has managed the disease — incurable, at least for now — about as successfully as is possible by keeping active and following the advice of a movement-disorder physician.

“The best you can do is manage the symptoms. That’s what a support group is really all about — living with it,” Boyce said. “I like to say I have Parkinson’s, but it doesn’t have me.”

Boyce understands the therapeutic value of sharing his experiences with other Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers.

Interested persons can give him a call at 562-4432 or email Dboyce124@gmail.com.

Steve Stewart is publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is steve.stewart@suffolknewsherald.com.

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