It took some time for people recognizing Jim and Donna Boyles’ contributions to Pownal on Sunday to touch all the bases during a reception in beautifully restored Mallett Hall which, in itself, represents one of those good works.

So the Pownal Scenic and Historical Society, which the Boyleses have served in leadership roles for 45 years, was but one of the organizations to pull out the accolades. The town, Bradbury Mountain Arts and the North Pownal Community Club also saluted the couple, who are moving to Seattle at the end of the month to be closer to their two daughters and their families. Both are 78.

In short: Jim and Donna Boyles worked on the Mallett Hall expansion project, which led to the restoration of the historic building built by shoe magnate E.B. Mallett in 1886. Mallett Hall is now in the National Register of Historic Places.

Jim Boyles served on the town’s Budget Committee, and by most accounts the Boyleses touched almost every member of the community through their work in the Pownal Scenic and Historical Society. Donna Boyles’ literary contributions include her work on two town histories, “Pownal, a Rural Maine History” in 1977, and “On Pownal Time,” published in 2008 for the town’s bicentennial.

Robin Hodsdon-Morin, who has succeeded Donna Boyles as president of the historical society, explained to more than 50 people who came out for the event that the Boyleses made it clear they didn’t want recognition. Michael Morin, among the newer members of the society, strummed on his guitar as people socialized.

“They would be embarrassed, and didn’t feel that either one of them really deserved the recognition because for everything they did, there was a team that always worked along with them,” Hodsdon-Morin said. “However, for every person I talked to when the word went out that Jim and Donna were leaving, their one question was always, ‘Is there going to be some sort of recognition? A party? A gathering?’”

Jim and Donna Boyles moved to their Pownal home on Poland Range Road in 1969 with their two young daughters, Kristin and Amanda. They took immediate interest in the new Pownal Elementary School that had opened the year before.

Donna Boyles joined the Pownal Scenic and Historical Society at its inception in May 1970, when founding member Marjorie Mason called for its formation in the hopes of cleaning up the town and creating some much-needed municipal pride.

“With this new endeavor, a long-term passion for Pownal and its history was born,” Hodsdon-Morin said.

Jim Boyles had his arm around his wife’s shoulder Sunday as well-wishers greeted them from every direction.

“We’ve invested so much of our time and effort on this town,” Jim Boyles said. “There will be a little pain of separation, but it’s time for us.”

Donna Boyles said the move has been planned for quite some time.

“It wasn’t until the last five years that we began to feel the aging process and say, ‘We can’t do this anymore,’” she said. “We had an old home that we restored. We said that when we restored that, we would move to Seattle.”

Donna Boyles was director of nursing at Freeport Nursing Home while she was doing all those things for the town, and her husband was a chemistry professor at Bates College. It wasn’t all glamour. When Donna Boyles became president of the Pownal Scenic and Historical Society, the town didn’t have road signs at all of its intersections.

“Jim, bless his heart, was dragged along on this journey, as Donna volunteered him to build things, and help in a variety of ways,” Morin-Hodsdon continued. “But with his outstanding knowledge in grant writing, Robert’s Rules and financial matters, he found his long-term role as treasurer for the society and held that position until this past November.”

Morin-Hodsdon noted that Donna Boyles had a “tenacity” for record keeping and archival restoration.

“With Jim’s help and support, the two have been a force for much of the history and information that is available to us today in that archive room,” Morin-Hodsdon said.

Tim Giddinge, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, handed the Boyleses not one, but two plaques.

“In trying to show our appreciation for all you’ve done for the town,” Giddinge said, “we just ran out of room.”

Alix Hopkins, who worked with Donna and Jim Boyles on the Pownal Land Trust – which later merged with the Royal River Conservation Trust – made note of a contribution perhaps not as well-known as the others.

“With Donna and Jim’s help,” Hopkins said, “we built a monument to the Tryon family. The land trust, the historical society, selectmen, the roads crew and churches all came together. The Tryon family has made contributions to Pownal for over 200 years. The monument on Lawrence Road was put there about five years ago. It’s indicative of how collaborative and how giving Donna is. We’re going to miss them so much.”

Pownal Scenic and Historical Society member Kathy Hogue said that the group will keep the Boyleses abreast of goings-on in town.

“We’ll still send Donna information,” Hogue said. “She will want to know what’s going on.”

Tim Giddinge, chairman of the Pownal Board of Selectmen, presents plaques of appreciation to Jim and Donna Boyles during a reception Sunday at Mallett Hall.


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