Shirl Boyce Jr.

Obituary of Shirl Cardon Boyce Jr.

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Shirl Cardon Boyce, Jr. passed away on November 8, 2023 at the age of 81.

Shirl was born in Caliente, Nevada on November 25, 1941. He took great pride in the fact that his great, great grandparents settled in what was Idaho in 1864, and his two great grandfathers settled Lava Hot Springs, then Dempsey. He spent his youth growing up in Pocatello and Bear Lake during the summers. His grandparents sold their farm and bought Lakota Resort, where he started working at the age of 9. By the time he was 17, he managed Lakota’s boat harbor, and later went on to manage Gus Rich’s Lake Shore Lodge.

In February of 1962 while attending Idaho State University, Shirl married his college sweetheart, JoAnne Goldsmith, and enlisted in the Army Security Agency. He received orders to join the 173rd Airborne Brigade Headquarters (“Sky Soldiers”) on Okinawa with future mobilization to Vietnam. These orders were canceled at the last minute, and he was sent instead to Germany. JoAnne joined him there, and their oldest daughter, Michelle, was born in Bremerhaven, Germany in 1964. A second daughter, Lori Anne, was born in Pocatello in 1967. Shirl and JoAnne later divorced.

Shirl joined the Army Reserve in Pocatello to become the Bn Communication Chief of the 372nd Quartermaster Battalion in 1965. He received an honorary promotion to Staff Sgt, E-6. Later, he was asked to attend the Infantry Officer School (Reserve Component) in Ft. Benning, GA in 1968. As a Commissioned Reserve Officer, he held positions as company executive officer, company commander, platoon leader, and military police detachment commander. In 1969, he transferred to a Basic Training Company in Eugene, Oregon, and attended graduate school at the University of Oregon. He remained in the Army Reserve until 1975.

In 1975, Shirl began working for the State of Idaho in various roles. Serving on the teams for Governors Cecil D. Andrus, John V. Evans, and Phil Batt, Shirl was noted for his ability to work across party lines to get the job done. He represented Governor Andrus on the Bear Lake Regional Commission and the Yellowstone-Grand Teton Transportation Study. He also worked on the Teton Dam Disaster and the Mt. St. Helens Eruption aftermath. As Governor Evans’ personal representative, he negotiated with shippers, labor and local governments. He appeared before the Federal Bankruptcy Court (Chicago, Il.) and the I.C.C. to argue the impacts of the Milwaukee Railroad Abandonment on northern Idaho. As a result, the creation of the St. Mary’s River Railroad ensured that shippers along the old Milwaukee spur line could continue to ship their goods to market.


In 1979 Shirl met the love of his life, Gayla.  She was the person he knew he was meant to grow old with. Together, Shirl and Gayla built a family, raising six children.  As their family grew with sons and daughters-in-law, grandchildren and eventually great-grandchildren, Shirl could not have been more proud and loving. While Shirl was incredibly proud of his military and professional careers, he would tell anyone and everyone that above all he cherished his wife and children.  For him there was no distinction between his children and step-children. They were his family, and Shirl loved them beyond measure and shared the joy of whatever path they chose, with guidance of course. He never missed an event that involved his children and grandchildren; no moment was too big or too small. He attended countless graduations, drill team competitions, soccer, basketball and baseball games, track meets, school plays, concerts, volleyball and tennis matches, swim meets, and plenty of games supporting whichever daughter or granddaughter was cheerleading. With a camera in hand and words of encouragement in abundance, to say he was proud would be an understatement.

Shirl left state government and spent 20 years at the helm of the Boise Metro Economic Development Council, a division of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce. There, he led the efforts to assist over 100 businesses to locate their operations in the Boise Valley and several dozen existing area businesses to expand their operations in the valley.

In 2007, Shirl joined the team that built the College of Western Idaho (CWI) led by Dr. Dennis Griffin, its founding president. Shirl served as the Executive Director of Community Relations and Advancement. Throughout his tenure, he served as a Senior Advisor to the Wyakin Board of Directors, assisting the Navy Veterans in creating the Wyakin Warrior Program to help service members receive an education and support throughout their lives.

After retirement at 72, Shirl served as a volunteer for AARP Idaho, assisting them with Legislative relations, policy recommendations, and public speaking. When he wasn’t volunteering, Shirl thoroughly enjoyed spending time with family. He loved to share his joy for camping - especially big family trips to Deadwood Reservoir, skiing, and fly-fishing on the South Fork of the Boise River. An accomplished angler, Shirl taught fly tying and fly rod building classes in the community for years. He loved music and was an avid percussionist, even playing drums late into his life when given the opportunity with his grandson Austin on guitar. Shirl was an incredible dancer and was never happier than on the dance floor with his beautiful wife, Gayla at family weddings and events. Shirl was a presence who literally never met a stranger and filled the room with positivity. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and all who knew him.

Shirl or Pop and Papa as he was lovingly known to family was incredibly intelligent, accomplished, humble, selfless, personable and kind. He was preceded in death by his parents, Shirl Sr. and Dorothy, as well as step-daughter Julie Thompson-Hillner. He is survived by his wife, Gayla; daughters Michelle Sobonya (Jim) and Lori Boyce; step-children Debbie Florence, Andria Jenné (Shane), and Robb Thompson (Kate); 13 grandchildren- Beth, Gehvyn, Chris, Molly, Kaitlyn, Kailea, Austin, Kody, Chea, Jimmy, Adam, Keagan and Liam; 8 great-grandchildren; sister Marilyn Matthews; niece Tracy; and nephew Greg; all of whom he loved and cared for deeply. Words cannot express how grateful we are to All Care Home Health and Hospice, especially Robin, Cyndi, Alexa, Elizabeth, Brandy, and Lance for the kind and loving care they provided Shirl in his final days. We love and miss you terribly, Papa!


A vigil will be held at Summers Funeral Home on Monday, November 27th at 5:00 PM. The funeral mass will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Tuesday, November 28th at 11:00 AM with interment at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery at 2:00 PM. Memorial donations, in lieu of flowers, may be sent to Sacred Heart Catholic School in honor of Shirl’s dedication to education.

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5:00 pm
Monday, November 27, 2023
Summers Funeral Home- Ustick Chapel
3629 E. Ustick Rd.
Meridian, Idaho, United States

Funeral Mass

11:00 am
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
811 S. Latah Street
Boise, Idaho, United States


2:00 pm
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Idaho State Veterans Cemetery
10100 Horseshoe Bend Rd.
Boise, Idaho, United States
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