Wilfed Boykin - A dedicated teacher vs Class Clown | Beaufort County Now | I do not know if there is a class in teacher school on how to deal with class clowns, but one of my teachers at CHS knew how to handle my excesses and he did so without saying a word. Below are a couple of examples of my boisterous behavior in class. | Wilfred Boykin, a dedicated teacher, Clarkston Georgia High School,Class Clown

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Wilfed Boykin - A dedicated teacher vs Class Clown

Update: August 2, 2018 - A Eulogy

    Wilfed Boykin was my Geometry teacher at Clarkston High in Georgia. - He was a dedicated teacher vs the class clown. There is no doubt on who will win, but some teachers use more than go to the principal's office as a technique. In order to be a true class clown you need a keen sense of the boundary line between mischief and just plain delinquent (that is the word used back in the 1950's for incorrigible students.) I usually had a pretty good idea where the line was drawn. The key was to push just hard enough to fall within the teachers discipline and not the principal's. I have another story where I got cross-ways with two different principals at Bass High.

    I do not know if there is a class in teacher school on how to deal with class clowns, but one of my teachers at CHS knew how to handle my excesses and he did so without saying a word. Below are a couple of examples of my boisterous behavior in class.


    I was never particular good in math and Geometry was nodifferent. Mr. Wilfred Boykin, as I remember, was a highly dedicated math teacher who seemed to love the subject and attacked the teaching with an enthusiasm that I could not understand. My buddy Clint and I sat next to each other in Geometry in Mr. Boykin's class.

    During one of his explanations about the Euclidean Geometry concept of infinity, he tried to explain infinity by breaking what today would be a cardinal rule in public school. He actually mentioned GOD. "Who made God? God made God. Who made God that made God? Etc." He was making the point that the question and answer would go on forever with no end i.e. infinity. He could have used the chicken and egg example but it would not have had as much impact on a class full of Southern Baptist.

   Here is the textbook definition: "In geometry, a point at infinity or ideal point is an idealized limiting point at the "end" of each line"------ Point At Infinity (Yes, I had to look this up again.)

    After about the fourth Who Made comment, I could not contain myself and blurted out the advertising line from Italian Swiss Colony Wine commercials, which were popular at the time. "That little old winemaker, me." He barely slowed down, looked at me, and pointed to the door. That was my cue to go into the hall and compose myself. I had been sent to the hall a few times before.

   While I had a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Boykin, but I had no interest nor talent in math. I was most likely still a bit angry about my family's move from Atlanta to a podunk town in Dekalb county. While Clarkston was only twelve miles from my old school, it might as well have been in another state. I was a city boy transplanted into a dairy and farm county that was just beginning to bloom into a suburb of Atlanta.

   Below is a clip of the old commercials for Italian Swill Colony wine. I was not a wine drinker at the time but I occasionally did partake of some home made brew. I posted an article here.

The Little old Wine Maker Me

    This was in the old rock building constructed from Stone Mountain granite. It actually had a fireplace in one of the classrooms.
Photo courtesy of Ted McDonald

    I never thought much about this at the time since I was a 17-year-old smart a$$ trying to impress everyone around except the teachers. Over the years, I came to realize three things about the encounter:

  • Mr. Boykin was an extremely gifted teacher who tried his best to make a difficult subject enjoyable.
  • I was really a jerk as a young man who was a bit too full of himself.
  • I am still a jerk as an old man who is a bit too full of himself.

    The Spasm

    I guess you might say that I had an inferiority complex during high school as I was always trying to be the class clown and we all know how twisted most of those guys were. Some grew up to be George Carlin, but I grew up to realize that I was a Jerk. Once during another discussion on the theorems and postulates my boredom overtook me and I went into my "Leg Spasm Routine." Essentially, it started with a slight patting of my foot and worked its way up to my knee slowly and eventually turning into a violent leg movement, which caused me to fall on the floor in spasms. Predictably, after my performance, Mr. Boykin stopped talking and looked at the door and me. I did not need the finger point to understand his meaning and slowly got up "full of myself" and went into the hall.

    It wasn't until many years later that I finally understood his dedication and have carried a small sense of guilt for making his life miserable that year in 1962. I often wished, I could meet him again and apologize for being such a jerk. On a side note, I do remember the difference between a Theorem and a Postulate. Good work Mr. Boykin.

January 2013

Updated August 2, 2018
Wilfred E. Boykin Eulogoy Passed on July 15, 2018 at the age of 81
    As delivered on July 30, 2018 at Glenn Chapel Emory University by Martha Clinkscales; one of his care givers during his declining years.

    Seven years ago I got a call from a young trust officer at Wells Fargo about services for one of his clients who demonstrated early stage dementia. Thus began Personal Care's relationship with Wilfred Elmo Boykin. Most of us gathered together today are here because we cared for Will and knew him well, and knowing him well means knowing that Will was a hoarder.

    Will found interest in a wide range of pursuits. He was natively curious and passionate about life. When Joel Penny first introduced me to Will I was charged with the task of helping him clean up his act-which was no easy feat, because Will clearly believed he had nothing to clean up!

    Another mandate from this initial engagement was that Will remain within walking distance from the Emory campus. Will had high energy, and the disease of dementia supercharged this energy so that he needed to be moving most of the time. He used the Emory campus as his "trail," and he walked through the gardens and the campus frequently.

    Joel and I made a plan to move Will down the street from his condominium at Somerset Heights, which was packed to the gills, to a new condominium at Clairmont Place, a retirement community with additional supports for Will, such as dining services. Joel and I hoped we could help Will "curate" his belongings and get a fresh start with a decluttered living space ....

    No such luck! These two buildings were about a half a mile apart, and Will, at 75, had tremendous energy. Soon we received reports that he was hauling furniture, books, knick-knacks, etc. on a dolly from one building to the next! I would classify our effort as mixed at best!

    Personal Care primarily provides personal care in the form of caregiver support. Joel had hoped that in the beginning Will could get a bit of companion support. The first challenge was that he did not want said support! He indulged Joel's pleadings to have a little help, and then the caregiver would have to keep up with Will's pace-a Herculean task. That is after finding him-also a big challenge because Will was on the go all the time. So the early years of helping Will were ones of as much "invisible" support as we could manage and he would accept.

    To know Will was also to know that he was a definitive intellectual. His life was built around the pursuits of the mind. He was a mathematician by training and profession. His progression through dementia was both eased and burdened by this intellect. His compensating skills were amazing. Yet the devolving of his mind caused him great frustration and some agitation.

    Will found great solace in music, which was a part of his life early on. He loved opera, classical music, and sacred music. When I contacted Glenn Memorial to make arrangements for this service I told the administrator and Dr. Albrecht, our esteemed organist, that Will would have preferred a concert recital more than a worship service! He loved walking over to Emory to attend lectures and productions, and visit the museums. Most of all he loved the music, and his love for melody remained with him until his last moments. Will sang through his last week of life.

    When Danielle Grabol came back to work at Personal Care, after her brief sabbatical to finish her college degree and work at Wesley Woods, she took up the management of Will's care. Eventually he moved to Arbor Terrace. Eventually his care needs increased, and his engagement with the caregivers deepened. A number of you are here this morning. Geralyn, who was with Mr. Boykin in the transition from Clairmont Place to Arbor Terrace, Sandra, Janice and Timikia. Cathy Schaum, our RN who ran interference with Arbor Terrace and Crossroads Hospice is also here. Through the changes in Will's condition he had excellent support through this team.

    A few weeks ago as it became clear that Will's life was fading, Danielle spoke with me about whether to have a memorial service. We both felt strongly that we needed to honor Will in this way, because we became family with Will. Bob and Sammy Sizemore, neighbors from his years Somerset Heights, remained faithfully part of his life through the ups and downs. Aside from them, Will had no community, except for the facilities in which he lived.

    In my life I have grown up with a number of proprietary eponyms. I use these big words in homage to Will. Proprietary eponyms are items like Kleenex, Band-Aid, and Xerox, generic trademarks where name and function are eponymous. All of these are familiar to all of you, and none more so than the search engine, "Google." It is so ubiquitous, that now when we search for information on the internet, we often way we "googled" it.

    Well folks, I googled Will Boykin. And I got a big surprise, actually several surprises.

    First, through the archives of the Rose Library at Emory, I was able to look at the yearbook from Will's second year at Oxford College. I learned more about Will Boykin from perusing those pages than you might imagine. Will was active in many areas. He was involved in the Methodist Fellowship. He was a member of the glee club, and their accompanist for both years there. He was active in service clubs and honoured in academic clubs. He was one of the editors of the annual itself.

    The photos speak of a happy and purposeful student, who was engaged in learning and in community. That glimpse into the 1956 annual, entitled MEMORY, helped me understand so much about Will. Incidentally, the annual lists the home address of each classmate, and Wiii's is listed as Halcyondale, Georgia-seriously, try finding Halcyondale Georgia on today's map! I will give you a hint: It is in Screven County. Where, you might ask, is Screven County? Think southeast Georgia. Sylvania is the county seat!

    Will was born there. His mother was an educator and later the postmistress of Halycondale. His father worked in agriculture. Will was predeceased by his sister. Today his cousin, Sam Mashburn, and his wife Diane, are here to represent Will's small but mighty family.

    There was much, much more on Google than you might imagine. Most of you know that this kind of internet pursuit can be quite a rabbit hole. Certainly this was the case with my research on Will.

    First I came across a blog post, written in 2016 by one Bobby Tony, also known as Tony Adams. Titled "Wilfred Boykin - A dedicated teacher vs Class Clown," Adams gives a recollection of the impact that Mr. Boykin had on him as his geometry teacher at Clarkston High School in 1962.

    Additional google discoveries included a treasure trove of academic publications, many that Will authored, and many that he reviewed for professional journals. Some of the titles include:

    • Trends for Mathematics Education, 1978
    • A Middle School Extension of Pick's Theorem to Areas of Nonsimple Closed Polygonal Regions 1995
    • Tips for the Mathematics Teacher: Research Based Strategies ... - EMIS reviews 1998

    I have pondered the impact that Mr. Boykin's life has had on others, as evidenced in these remarks, and in the trail of teaching, writing, and thinking that I found on the internet, wondering if he had any idea of the difference he made in many, many lives. I can't answer that question. I don't know. Here is what I think: Mr. Boykin had such a strong sense of purpose and passion in his life that for him, the point was following the call, and not dwelling on the impact of his work. He taught with deep joy and engaged, because he did what he loved. Through following he call he changed lives.

    Did he care? I am certain he did. A few days ago I was cleaning out the last of his effects in his residence at Arbor Terrace. On his dresser was this framed poem, composed, as it notes on the back, by his class, 1998, Macon campus. It is a sweet tribute to his teaching, and it is signed by all of his students. Tucked inside the frame was a sympathy card from these same students. Their tour as Will's students coincided with the year his mother died, and they were grieving with him this great loss.

    I think of this treasure that Will held onto until the end: the frame that framed a career of teaching that at that point spanned 38 years, my friends. Clearly his passion for teaching and caring never dimmed.

    I give thanks for each person here. We are bound together through our care for a gentle soul, and deeply passionate spirit, and a man who had great purpose in his life. It is fitting to be on this majestic campus in this beautiful space to celebrate his life. Will believed that his gifts were developed at Oxford College at Emory. Two years later he graduated on this campus. Thank you for being part of this circle today. Thanks be to God.


( May 7th, 2020 @ 1:47 pm )
Wil was in his youth also an opera singer and a Spiritualist. Several uncanny things happened while I was in his presence. At one time in 2008, we were walking together in London around Charing Cross Road, animatedly discussing the opera singer Janet Baker, when we both simultaneously and abruptly halted in front of a staircase that led up to a nondescript second-story. We somehow were strangely and in fact absolutely COMPELLED to ascend the staircase, and at the top, uninvited, we opened an unmarked door, and suddenly and unexpectedly found ourselves in an old-fashioned London gentleman's club, with damask red carpeting, flocked wallpaper and low ceilings. There were older gentlemen seated about, reading newspapers and taking tea. But, to our utter amazement and delight, on all the walls were maybe a hundred photographs of... Janet Baker!
( July 31st, 2018 @ 8:53 am )
When I married and had children I operated on the Postulate (see above) that teenage behavior is based largely on the Peer group of the child. No matter how well you try to train them about between right and wrong, they will gravitate towards the social norms of their peer group. For that reason I monitored their friends for clues of their character. That included selecting the neighborhood, school and social environment they operated in. It was not racist, homophobic or elitism but parenting that I was trying to apply.

Fortunately, today I don't have to face the pitfalls of a Peer teacher indoctrinating my kids, but I do have grand kids and have warned my son about my Postulate. It doesn't take a village, it takes concerned parents. Hopefully he will be aware of the influence of the boys on the block when his boys reach teen years.

The military calls it unit cohesion, gangs call it blood, cops call it perps, lawyers call it defendant and wardens call it Inmate. I am fairly close to calling my Postulate a Theorem.
( July 31st, 2018 @ 6:49 am )
By you today's standards, this man was a peer.

The grim reaper comes for all of us. The best we can hope for is to be dropped off at the pearly gates for a successful appointment with St. Peter.

In the meantime keep your Bobby Tony attitude, and we will all be the better for it.
( July 22nd, 2018 @ 7:41 am )
Thanks for the comments. Sometimes it is good to build a Mosaic from the broken fragments of a self-absorbed young man. Paying homage to this teacher (who I mention again was only 7-8 years older than I was at the time) is the minimum I can do to assuage some residual remorse. I found his 1956 College Yearbook on line and extracted a few pictures from it for our High school Class Facebook Alumni page.

Here is the Mosaic / Collage of Wilfred E. Boykin

( July 21st, 2018 @ 11:11 pm )
One of the things that I appreciate about my Bobby Tony is your conviction to humanity. You are an inspiration to me.
( July 21st, 2018 @ 8:02 am )
Update July 2018:
I received this note from the caregiver of Mr. Boykin. He passed July 15, 2018

HI Bobby Tony. I have been working on the Eulogy for Mr. Wilfred Boykin. He died in the care of hospice on July 15. Your remembrance of him is helpful to me as I prepare remarks for his funeral. I am certain he received your letter, and he had a penchant for keeping everything sent to him, so it is probably in his things!

Mr. Boykin struggled with dementia the last years of his life. I work with a home care company and we provided care for him through the years as his dementia increased.

A memorial service for him will be held on Monday, July 30, 11 am at the Glenn Chapel. Emory at Oxford remained first in his heart. Of that I am certain.
Thanks again for your remembrance.
( April 15th, 2017 @ 5:19 am )
Congrats Gordon on a life well lived.

Congrats again if you are well worn contemporary of the great Bobby Tony.
( April 14th, 2017 @ 12:03 pm )
I too am one of Mr. Boykin's fans. I was a senior ( 1964)and a poor boy with no money for college and I wanted so badly to get out of the home and go off to college. I planned to go to Ga. Tech and live at home as the only available option. Mr. Boykin told me to try to go to Emory at Oxford, his school. He pointed me to the scholarship part of the college and wrote recommendations for me and my best friend, Kim Palmer, another poor boy to get an acceptance. I registered at Tech and was ready to start summer quarter when lo and behold I got a letter offering me a full scholarship to Emory at Oxford. Today it is know as Oxford College of Emory University and is located in the small town of Oxford Georgia, near Covington.
I immediately accepted, as did Kim Palmer. This started me on a road that would lead to early admission to Dental School and graduating from Dental school in 1970 with a DDS. Who would have ever imagined it.

I can only imagine how many other lives this man has probably touched in the years he has been in the teaching profession. I actually loved Geometry and looked forward to the class. I was spell bound by the theorems that were developed on the board in front of my eyes. Thank you so much Mr. Boykin.
( November 3rd, 2016 @ 12:14 pm )
One of the little lessons I learned along the way is to try and take away something positive from everyone you meet. I dawned on me one day that I could go back in my memory and rescue that tidbit of exceptionalism that I did not realize about past associations in my life.
( November 3rd, 2016 @ 12:05 pm )
Great post B.T., as you have unveiled the unique and totally unboring spark that we could have within us all; the spark that makes our lives and enriches the lives of others.

This is what I refer to as a positive message, and we need that badly right now.
( November 3rd, 2016 @ 11:12 am )
TMc, Do you know how difficult it is to keep from posting the same article twice? It is all I can do to separate the clean from the dirty articles, much less try to remember this 50+year old history. I just came across a new idea for my book library. When I finish reading a book I turn to page five and write in the margin.

( November 3rd, 2016 @ 10:37 am )
Getting old lets me read your articles twice not remembering. What was the question?
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