McDill “Huck” Boyd impacts rural Kansas, K-State for generations

Courtesy photo Left to Right: George McDill "Huck" Boyd, Frank Boyd, Sr., Frank Boyd, Jr. and Mary Emma "Mamie" Alexander-Boyd.

In the 150 years since the university was founded, many legacies have been forged at K-State. One of the most prominent families to forge a lasting impression at K-State was the Boyd family. One member of the second generation of the Boyd family to pass through K-State was McDill “Huck” Boyd.

Born on April 17, 1907, Huck Boyd was the first son of Frank W. Boyd, Sr. and Mamie Alexander Boyd. Frank and Mamie met at K-State, where they both graduated. Huck is one of the few Boyds to attend K-State without obtaining a degree. He spent two years at K-State before the Great Depression hit, forcing him to return home to lend a hand with the family business.

“Huck left K-State to go help with the family newspaper,” said Tony Crawford, curator of manuscripts at Hale Library. “From that moment on, Huck would have such a significant impact on the newspaper world in rural Kansas towns. Huck was active in rural Kansas and in smaller communities. He was interested in helping to continue the communication of small-town newspapers.”

Huck Boyd married Marie Kriekenbaum on June 11, 1930. Kriekenbaum moved to Phillipsburg, Kan. with her new husband to help with the paper. Boyd belonged to an eclectic variety of groups in the world of journalism and took a leadership role in many of them. He served as the president of the Kansas Press Association in 1956, and on the National Newspaper Association’s board of directors from 1965 to 1972.

Boyd also won dozens of awards for excellence in journalism. Some of the more prominent of these include the 1971 William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit and the Wichita Eagle-Beacon’s 1975 Victor Murdock Award for Editorial Excellence.

“Community was the most important thing for Huck and Marie,” 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 both so active in their communities. Huck was especially so passionate about the newspaper industry in rural Kansas towns, because he knew the importance and how vital a newspaper can be for a small community.”

Steve Logback, assistant vice president of K-State communications and marketing, is the grandson of Huck Boyd’s brother, Frank Boyd, Jr. Logback said Boyd worked around the clock to ensure small communities had strong communication. It was this passion for small town newspapers, according to Logback, that drove his journalism career, enabling him to spend decades as the publisher of the Phillips County Review.

Boyd was also active politically both within Kansas and nationally.

Boyd was the publicity chairman for the Republican state committee in 1940, 1946 and 1950. He was selected as the chairman of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Presidential campaign in Kansas in 1952. One of Boyd’s longest-running political stints was as a Kansas representative to the Republican National Committee from 1967-1987. Boyd was also the chairman of media at the Republican national conventions of 1968, 1972 and 1976, making him the only person to ever serve as media chairman at three national conventions for any political party.

“Boyd had run for governor of Kansas twice and had lost both times,” Crawford said. “He was active statewide and nationally in the Republican Party, and he took great pride in his political party affiliation. He had also been friends with Bob Dole and helped with Dole’s campaigns.”

When the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media was established in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1990, the inaugural lecturer for the Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media series was Dole. Freeland said Boyd had gotten Dole into the political sphere and encouraged him to run for public office. Dole had been Boyd’s close friend and confidant.

Boyd was also active in working with mental health issues in Kansas, serving as the president of the Kansas Association for Mental Health in 1965. He also served two terms as a member of the board of directors of the National Association for Mental Health from 1966-1970.

Boyd died on Jan. 9, 1987. Two years after his death, the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, housed at K-State, was founded and later the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media. Both of these organizations work to continue to promote Boyd’s message and the legacy he has left in rural Kansas and in journalism.