Neil Boyce

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Neil B. Boyce, 83, of Salem, Ore., formerly of Glenns Ferry and Hagerman, died Saturday, March 8, 2008, at a care center.

A graveside service was held Friday, March 14, at Glenn Rest Cemetery in Glenns Ferry. Arrangements were under the direction of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel in Mountain Home.

Neil was born in Hagerman, one of 12 children of Alvin and Minnie Boyce. As a teen, Neil worked as a farm laborer, horse handler and trainer.

He was a ranch hand in and around New Plymouth and Payette where he broke and trained horses and was a buckaroo in many Pacific Northwest rodeos. His long-time childhood passion and skill in handling horses led Neil to become a jockey in the late 1930s and he followed the ponies from Omaha to Portland.

During World War II, Neil served his country as a Military Policeman in the 31st Field Artillery Battalion of the US Army in Okinawa and Korea where he received several citations: Army of Occupation Medal Japan; Asiatic Pacific Theater Service Medal; Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

At retirement, Neil had been a breeder and trainer of thoroughbred racehorses for over 55 years, primarily racing in California and Illinois. Neil's reputation as a successful trainer ultimately attracted high-profile personalities to seek his talent--George Steinbrenner, Donald Trump, Walter Matthau, Michael Landon, RJ Reynolds and Elizabeth Arden were all owners that enlisted his training expertise.

Neil loved his family, but he lived for his horses, his family said.

He was a member of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, a Commissioner for the Illinois Racing Commission and a member/Director of the California and Illinois Horseman's Benevolent Protective Association where he fought hard for horsemen's benefits and their financial stability. As dementia took its toll on his memory, Neil instinctively "got up" each morning to be certain he was at the track by 5 a.m., then always insisted he wanted to go "home" at the end of every day, his family said.

Neil and his first wife, Dorothy, had three children: Sandra, Melvin and Randy, all living in Oregon. He is also survived by: his brother, Ted, and his wife, Neomi Boyce; sisters Zelma Tripple of Nampa, Helen and her husband, Virg Marshall, of Hemet, Calif., Alice and her husband, Tory Craig, of Boise, and Julie Chappell of Provo, Utah; three grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his brothers, Wayne (who was killed in action in Italy in December 1944) and Dean; and sisters, Dora, Venna, Lillian and Ardith.

Contributions may be made to the Willamette Valley Hospice, 1015 3rd Street NW, Salem, Oregon 97304, or the California Thoroughbred Horsemans Foundation, P.O. Box 660129, Arcadia, CA 91066.