James Rada, Jr.
June 4, 1913 – July 11, 2015
Emmitsburg lost its oldest citizen on July 11, 2015, when Joan Boyle passed away at St. Joseph’s Ministries in Emmitsburg. She was 102 years old.
Boyle was born June 4, 1913, in Adams County, Pennsylvania, but she spent much of her life trying to improve Emmitsburg.
She was elected in 1981 as an Emmitsburg town commissioner and served for a term. In an unpublished 2007 interview she gave to the author, she said that she decided to run for the same reason many people get involved in politics at the local level.
“I remember I would pick up the paper and read about what was going on, and I thought, ‘It’s such a mess,’” Boyle said.
Because she had taught a civics class during her twenty years of teaching in Washington County, she believed she had enough knowledge to run a town.
So she began campaigning door to door and was elected as the town’s parks and recreation commissioner in 1981.
She remembers as she lowered her hand after taking the oath of office, Mayor Eugene Myers, who had just sworn her in, told her, “I must tell you there’s no money in the budget for parks and recreation.”
At that point, Boyle knew she had her work cut out for her.
A member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, she also attended St. Euphemia’s School in the 1920s. The school opened in 1889 and was named after Mother Euphemia Blenkinsop, recently deceased superior of the Daughters of Charity. It operated until 1956, when the elementary school ceased and the building was used by St. Joseph’s High School.
Boyle remembered a big event for the school that she recounted in her 2007 interview. “The principal told us if we can do plays for 25 cents a person, we can start putting in indoor plumbing. At that point, I wasn’t sure what indoor plumbing was,” Boyle said.
She graduated St. Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg and went on to attend the University of Madrid in Spain; Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland; and the University of Galway in Ireland.
As an adult, Boyle taught school in the Hagerstown area and Chatham Hall School in Virginia.
Boyle also remembered the Emmitsburg town fountain when it ran. The town fountain was installed in 1884 in the middle of the square. Traffic flowed around it going through the center of town.
Boyle remembered the fountain from her childhood. “The fountain would spray out all over the place. It was lovely, but the cars had to go around it. As the years went by, the area around it became smaller and smaller as more trucks and cars came through town.” It was destroyed when a car hit it in 1927.
A Memorial Mass was held for Boyle on July 16 at St. Joseph’s. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Emmitsburg Public Library Children’s Programs, 300 S. Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD 21727.