Mamie Boyd impacts K-State, Manhattan long after graduating

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Courtesy photo Mamie Alexander-Boyd rides in a 1909 "Reo" during K-State's 1963 centennial celebration. Alexander-Boyd was crowned the Centennial Homecoming Queen during this occasion, and is the only woman to earn this honor in the 150-year history of the university.

When it comes to K-State legacies, families tend to leave some of the strongest impacts on our community. Mamie Boyd, born Mary Emma Alexander, has had a long-running impact not only on K-State and Manhattan, but at the state and national level as well.

Boyd was born Dec. 13, 1876. Growing up she was one of 13 children with nine sisters and three brothers. Boyd was admitted to Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University) in 1898. She sold her heifer for $17.50 to pay for a train ticket to Manhattan.

“Mamie [Boyd] cherished that calf. She had even named it Lovely,” said Steve Logback, great-grandson of Boyd and assistant vice president for K-State communications and marketing. “But she sold it to pay for the train fare to get to Manhattan to come to school at K-State.”

On June 19, 1902, Boyd graduated with honors from K-State in printing and general science. Boyd met her husband, Frank W. Boyd Sr., at K-State. The two were married on April 15, 1905 in Phillipsburg, Kan. Frank was the editor of the “Phillips County Post.”

“After getting married, Mamie went with Frank to go run the newspaper in Phillipsburg,” said Tony Crawford, curator of manuscripts at Hale Library. “Mamie [Boyd] had a long career and life. She was 96-years-old when she died. She was prominent in Kansas newspapers and journalism.”

Boyd was the mother of George McGill “Huck” Boyd, born April 17, 1907, and Frank W. “Bus” Boyd Jr., born July 9, 1912. While a mother and wife, Boyd was active in different aspects of the journalism world, women’s organizations and rural Kansas.

“Bus” was once captain of the men’s basketball team at K-State. Boyd attended every basketball game and every football game from her graduation until she passed away, including when “Bus” was a part of the team. Crawford said she would often knit at these games.

“When I was little and was brought to the games as a young boy, I still remember her just sitting there knitting,” Logback said. “There were times the basketball would come her direction and she would just sit there and continue to knit. She was passionate about Kansas, community and journalism, but above all, she was passionate about K-State.”

In 1918, Boyd attended the first national convention for a women’s organization in Des Moines, Iowa. Then, in 1923, she organized the first women’s division headquarters for the Kansas Democratic Party. 1930 was a huge year of first’s for Boyd in her work with women’s organizations. Boyd was elected the president of the Woman’s Kansas Day Club on Jan. 29, 1930, as well as the first female president of the KSU Alumni Association.

“Community was first and foremost for the Boyd family,” said Gloria Freeland, director of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and assistant professor in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “They were all so active in their communities in their own respective ways.”

Boyd was honored with many awards that all had a place in her heart. She was awarded “Journalist of the Year” by Theta Sigma Pi in 1953. She was then honored by Kansas Press Women with “Newspaper Woman of the Year” in 1954. She also received her first “Distinguished Service Award in Journalism” from the K-State Kansas Press Woman of the Year on May 7, 1957.

One of the awards she was most proud of, as described in her autobiography “I Rode a Heifer Calf Through College,” was when she was awarded “Kansan of the Year” by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas on Jan. 28, 1959.

Boyd Hall, formerly Northwest Hall, was renamed after Boyd on Jan. 14, 1961.

“Boyd Hall is a fitting tribute for Mamie [Boyd],” Logback said. “She was always interested in the ways of students. She would be happy and proud to see an all-woman’s dorm building be named after her.”

Boyd also presided as K-State’s Centennial Homecoming Queen 50 years ago in 1963.

Boyd published her autobiography in 1972, a year before she passed away, leaving behind her a powerful memory and legacy at K-State.

“There have been more than 28 Boyd descendants that have passed through K-State,” Logback said. “When learning about all things K-State, it’s hard to put into words what my family line means here.”

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