Charles Walker Boyd, born March 15, 1977 in Winchester, VA, passed away surrounded by loving family on December 28, 2022. Words fall short in paying tribute to this gracious man. Known to all as Walker, he was a person of unsurpassable goodness, love, passion and loyalty. Walker spent his early childhood in Reynolds Store, VA, the son of John William Boyd and Elizabeth Rice Boyd. One of a set of triplets, he was part of a dynamic threesome along with his loving brother and sister, Will and Liz.
The Boyd family moved to Richmond when the triplets were 5 years old, staying until they settled in Culpeper County, VA, when the children were 13. Walker was a standout goalkeeper in soccer and beloved by many friends, community members and family. After graduating from Culpeper County High School in 1995, Walker followed several of his friends and soccer teammates to Frostburg State University in Maryland. For four years, Walker tended the goal for the Frostburg State Bobcats and was a decorated player. While finishing his BFA in graphic design and black-and-white photography, Walker stayed at Frostburg an extra year and began his storied career as an assistant coach at his alma mater. From there, he moved with his sister, Liz, to Richmond, VA, where he worked in graphic design and coached a local club soccer. Wanting to break into the collegiate coaching world, Walker then moved to the frozen north of Elmira, NY, in 2002, where he was the men’s soccer graduate assistant and obtained his master’s degree in Education. It was at Elmira College that Walker met his wife, Clare Bullock, and made lifelong friends and memories that span the decades.
Now a part of a dynamic coaching duo, Walker and Clare set off together to find their way as college coaches: Walker in soccer and Clare, field hockey and softball. They made their way back south to Lynchburg, VA, where Walker worked at Lynchburg College as a graphic designer and coach with the women’s soccer program. Clare and Walker were married in Lynchburg in 2006. Shortly after their wedding, the couple moved to New Hampshire when Walker took a position as the assistant coach for the Dartmouth College women’s soccer team. When Clare decided to change careers and pursue a second master’s degree in Clinical Social Work, she and Walker moved to Western Massachusetts where Walker coached with the men’s soccer team at the University of Massachusetts and taught high school full-time at Putnam Vocational School in Springfield, MA.
When an opportunity arose for Walker as an assistant coach with the women’s soccer program at Amherst College, he sprang at the chance to coach such elite student-athletes. In 2014, Walker left his teaching post at Putnam and took the position as the department head in Graphics at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton, MA.
Walker always found a way to balance working two jobs to support his family and keep his passion for coaching ever-present, and was the embodiment of both educator and coach. Whether teaching high school students, coaching college athletes or passing the soccer ball with his own daughters in their backyard, Walker brought his signature relational style to all that he did. Walker was a consummate athlete and artist: creative, passionate and hard-working.
No accomplishment could ever compare to how Walker felt about his family and the two beautiful daughters he and Clare were blessed with: Una Fitzgerald Boyd, born in 2013, with her father’s green eyes and intensity; and Frances Beatrix Boyd (known as Bea), born in 2016, a gentle yet fierce soul. Both girls have pursued soccer under their father’s tutelage and in their father’s honor. As a father, Walker was gentle, playful, fun, energetic and loving beyond words.
Walker and Clare settled in Easthampton, MA, in 2016, finding friendship and community through their neighborhood, Maple Elementary and Easthampton Youth Soccer. The last many years of Walker’s life were deeply impacted by chronic, severe illness. He was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease in 2011 (PSC, or Primary Scleroising Cholangitis). Walker’s struggle with chronic illness went unbeknownst to most people until the PSC caused bile duct cancer in 2018. For three years, Walker lived with the aftermath of a massive liver resection and subsequent complications. He worked full-time, parented and was an equal partner in all the family undertook. Clare and Walker fought fiercely to provide stability, predictability, joy and normalcy to Una and Bea’s lives throughout all the family endured. Walker lived with courage and devotion to the end. His ordeal was full of suffering, uncertainty, fear, grief and loss; while these experiences were not erasable, he did it all with great love, humor and humility, never straying from the connections that sustained him and his family.
To know Walker was to love and admire him, to laugh and smile and to shoot the breeze. He was good to his core, and he will be deeply missed by many.
There will be a wake on Friday, January 13, 2023 at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church,128 Main Street in Easthampton, MA, (the family’s small home parish church) from 5:30 to 7pm. Funeral services will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, 35 Chestnut Street in Springfield, MA, on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 10am.
Walker planned these details through his final illness and sincerely hoped everyone would be together. All are encouraged to attend a reception following the funeral on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at The Boylston Rooms in Keystone Mill, 122 Pleasant Street in Easthampton, MA, from 1 to 4pm to share food, drinks, remembrances and fellowship.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to the long-term financial well-being of Walker’s wife and children: www.givebutter.com/Boyd-Family-Support