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Obituaries

Baldwin-White School board head was skilled in diplomacy

| Monday, July 7, 2008

In 22 years on the Baldwin-White School Board, including 13 as president, Ronald F. Boyle led the district through a testy spate of school closings.

"He was very diplomatic and very logical," said his wife, Evelyn, of Pleasant Hills. "He just calmly quieted everyone down, discussed the situation and settled it."

Ronald Boyle of Pleasant Hills, formerly of Baldwin, died of cancer on Saturday, July 5, 2008, at Baptist Home in Mt. Lebanon. He was 73.

He was born Aug. 17, 1934, in Oakland and served in finance with the Army at Fort Knox, Ky., from 1954 to 1956. He later worked as an insurance broker for the former Johnson & Higgins, Downtown.

He met his future wife at a young adults group at St. Regis Church in Oakland. He was president of the group, which sponsored dances and bowling outings, and she was secretary. They were married 47 years.

"He was so easy to get along with," Evelyn Boyle said. "I can honestly say we never had a serous argument or disagreement or anything."

Mr. Boyle was a council member for St. Albert the Great Parish. He and his wife were involved with the premarriage program at St. Albert and Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin.

His advice: "Never go to bed angry with each other," his wife said, "and always say 'I love you' when you go to bed because you never know what tomorrow may bring."

Mr. Boyle was first elected to the school board in 1980. As the district faced declining enrollment, officials decided to close schools because of high costs, his wife said.

"We didn't need all those schools, and the cost was prohibitive."

His wife became accustomed to angry constituents calling the house and talking to him for 30 minutes to an hour.

"The next thing," she said, "they'd hang up and say, 'Geez, thanks for listening.' "

She said most of the closed schools were converted into nursing homes.

His favorite part of being board president was speaking to graduates on commencement day.

His wife remembers him saying, " 'It just makes me feel so good to be up there talking to this graduating class where perhaps 90 percent may be going on to further education.' "

Besides the school board and parish council, Mr. Boyle served on the Baldwin Zoning Hearing Board and was vice president of the Whitehall chapter of AARP.

Louis Boyle of McCandless admired his father's sense of humor and integrity.

"He was absolutely a funny man, but at the same time honest and sincere," his son said.

Mr. Boyle maintained his sense of humor even during his last few days.

Louis Boyle, an English professor at Carlow University, recently visited his father and said he had begun work on a book about King Arthur.

"OK," his father said, "I'll try to keep it down."

Survivors besides his wife and son include another son, Ronald Boyle of Addison, Maine, and a daughter, Susan Wydrenski of Ross.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today and Tuesday at the John F. Slater Funeral Home, Inc., 4201 Brownsville Road, Brentwood. A funeral prayer will begin at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin.

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