Some people know when to listen, know when to help and know when a great big hug is precisely what’s needed.
That was Kelly Boyd.
At least that’s how the people who knew Boyd describe the 52-year-old Dade City woman — who died unexpectedly.
Boyd was affectionately known around the school and community as “Miss Kelly.”
The Dade City woman worked for 31 years as the clinic assistant at Rodney B. Cox Elementary School, at 37615 Martin Luther King Blvd., in Dade City.
Her unexpected death on July 8 was met by disbelief and sadness.
Miriam Cosme, a data entry operator at the Dade City school, said Miss Kelly treated every child who came through her clinic as if he or she was her own. She knew the particular needs of individual children, Cosme said.
If a family needed an extra bag of food for the weekend, or if a child or a child’s brother or sister needed a pair of shoes, Miss Kelly met that need.
“She was our go-to person if we needed to find out anything about a kid or a family,” added Cosme, who knew Miss Kelly for 15 years. “If she didn’t have the answer, she would be on the phone making contact with parents to find out answers.”
Karen Lamar, the school’s bookkeeper, said she met Miss Kelly six years ago and they became instant friends.
“Kelly was the best hugger; I know the kids and adults loved how she would squeeze you and make everything OK,” Lamar said.
She made sure that kids were fed, clothed and that they had the things they needed.
She was uber-connected throughout the school and the community, her friends say.
“Kelly was a walking directory for our school family. Whenever you needed a phone number or to get in touch with a family, she knew that number, and knew where they lived and most of the family members,” Lamar said.
Principal Karen Natal said people gravitated to Miss Kelly because they knew she genuinely cared.
She had a remarkable memory, Natal said, noting Miss Kelly recalled not only names and faces, she also remembered people’s stories.
She would connect with them and check in on them, Natal said.
“She was just a safe person to talk to,” the principal added.
Even after students left Cox to go on to middle and high school, they would drop by the elementary school to talk with Miss Kelly.
Despite the integral role she played in many people’s lives and the extra hours she voluntarily gave to address others’ needs, Miss Kelly was not one to call attention to her good works or seek any kind of credit for what she did, Natal said.
But the community knew.
And, when the school posted news of Miss Kelly’s death on its Facebook page, dozens responded with posts— many mentioning her kindness and compassion.
Courtney Wynn Loss couldn’t quite take it in.
“What!!! OMG this is so sad and heartbreaking,” she posted. “I’ve known Miss Kelly for years. She was/is so amazing and my daughter loved her.”
The clinic assistant’s loved ones organized a candlelight vigil at the school, and the principal asked the Pasco County School Board to rename Building No. 19 on Cox’s campus as the Kelly Boyd Center.
The building seemed a fitting choice, since Miss Kelly worked there for years and the building is used to offer both student and community services, Natal said.
In the letter to the school board, Natal described Miss Kelly’s contributions.
She served as community liaison for the Thomas Promise food program, she coordinated the East Pasco Toys for Tots and she collaborated with the community on the school’s clothes closet.
Beyond providing practical help, she was encouraging.
After Natal finished addressing the school board, at its Oct. 5 meeting, Allen Altman, the school board’s chairman said he would be honored to step outside of his role as chairman, so he could make the motion to grant the request.
“I have been volunteering at that school for decades, and as a board member, I’ve been there 15 years, and I can absolutely verify everything that you said about Miss Kelly,” Altman said to Natal.
“She meant the world to that school and it meant a bunch to her, too,” Altman said.
Published October 13, 2021