"Queen of Tulsa TV" Betty Boyd dies at 86
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Friday, January 07, 2011
1/07/11 at 6:29 AM
Betty Boyd, a longtime Tulsa television personality and former state legislator who blazed a trail for other women in both arenas, died Thursday.
She was 86.
A funeral service is set for 2 p.m. Jan. 14 at First Baptist Church in Tulsa under the direction of Kennedy-Kennard Funeral Home, family members said.
The Tulsa native became known as the "Queen of Tulsa TV" during her 25 years with KOTV channel 6 and KTUL channel 8. She wrote and produced her own daily and weekly shows, including "The Betty Boyd Show," "Boyd's Eye View" and "Good Morning, Oklahoma."
Later parlaying her fame and experience into a run for office, Boyd, a Democrat, was first elected to the state Legislature in 1990 at age 66.
As the representative for District 23 in east Tulsa County, she served five consecutive two-year terms, authoring a number of education and health-related bills.
"You have to be careful in the words that you use," Boyd, one of only a handful of female representatives during her time, once told the Tulsa World about the challenge of addressing "women's issues."
Anything so-labeled had to be brought up delicately with her male colleagues, she said, adding "You have to make them think it's their idea. I call it 'playing wife.' "
For Margaret Elizabeth "Betty" Boyd, that was not a demeaning concept. An unapologetic "homebody" who was devoted to her husband, the late Bill Boyd Jr., and children, Boyd always embraced the wifely role.
When she began her TV career in the 1950s, after working previously in radio, it was her fellow wives and mothers who made up her first audiences.
In 1955, Boyd, a graduate of Central High School and the University of Tulsa, was hired to host a new daily women's television show on KOTV.
The face of "Women's Page," a half-hour noontime series, for the next several years, Boyd went on to become the station's public affairs director.
In 1965, she joined KTUL in a similar role and cemented her local TV icon status with a series of popular shows, specializing in features and human-interest stories.
Don Woods, her longtime colleague and retired KTUL meteorologist, said, "Betty was always thinking of other people. There's an admonition in the Bible: 'Love God and love your neighbor.' Betty did a good job with both. That guided her in TV and it was why she went into public service. We loved her. She was a wonderful person."
Deaf in her left ear since childhood, Boyd learned to read lips and never let her hearing loss hinder her. The only time her hearing loss was a problem, she said, was when doing remote broadcasts in crowds.
No-nonsense and practical, Boyd eschewed the glamorous possibilities of media stardom. She liked her morning gigs, she said, because they allowed her to be home when her children got in from school.
Leaving KTUL in 1980 to become director of information for Tulsa Vo-Tech, she later did radio and TV commercials. She appeared in TV ads recently for ClearTone and Tulsa Gold and Silver.
Boyd was recognized with lifetime achievement awards from both Women in Communications and American Women in Radio and Television. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame in 1996.
Education was a lifelong interest for Boyd, whose mother was a Tulsa Public Schools teacher. She said it was one of her motivations as a "concerned grandmother" when she sought public office.
As a legislator, Boyd co-wrote the bill that created Oklahoma State University-Tulsa. She wrote other bills pushing for the teaching of reading in earlier grades and expanding teacher and administrator training.
A breast cancer survivor, Boyd also focused on health issues as a lawmaker.
Ben Robinson, a former state senator and a longtime friend, was thrilled when Boyd told him she was running for office.
"Betty was just a beautiful person, one of those good old, hard-working people trying to do the right thing for the biggest number. I don't think in all those years she ever missed a vote," he said.
Penny Williams, a former state representative who had moved on to the senate by Boyd's time, remembers that the woman who would partner with her on many education initiatives "wasn't like a freshman at all when she was first elected.
"It was like an old friend was joining us. We already knew her as a TV pioneer. Everybody loved Betty and wanted to do right by her. She was invaluable as a friend to schools and education - and to Tulsa; she was a great champion of Tulsa causes."
While serving in the House, Betty Boyd was the oldest member, the only great-grandmother and one of only a few women to chair more than one committee.
She was also the only Democrat in her family, though her staunchly Republican husband was always one of her strongest supporters.
Believing it was a broadcaster's responsibility "to serve the community both on and off the air," Boyd was currently serving on the Tulsa Technology Center Board of Education and had served previously on the boards of many local groups.
Boyd was crowned Queen of the Tulsa Centennial in 1997.
Her granddaughter, Bryn Wisdom, said Boyd's empowering influence on her family members, especially the women who have followed her, is impossible to overstate.
"There's not a weak one among us," Wisdom said. "We are all strong, confident women with proud, respectful relationships and that's primarily because of my grandmother. She was the whole package."
Boyd is survived by daughter Beverlie Boyd Bryant, son Barry Boyd, sister Judy Turner, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Original Print Headline: TV pioneer, public servant, champion of Tulsa, friend
Tim Stanley 581-8385
State Rep. Betty Boyd poses at the State Capitol. During her five terms in the Legislature, she was instrumental in creating Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, and she championed education and health initiatives. Tulsa World file