Born: November 18, 1912
Ohio connection: Birth
It was perhaps fate that an Elyria native, born in the same year as the tragic sinking of the Titanic, should devote his life to authoring books about life and death on board ships. Boyer, born in Elyria in 1912, married Virginia Stokes in 1937, and had one son, Lawrence. He began his career writing for the Toledo Blade in 1944, moving to the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1954, where he remained as a feature writer for the rest of his life. In the meantime, motivated by what he considered an unconscionable slighting of the Great Lakes shipping industry, he championed, in a respected series of books, the sailors who “put it all together.” A factual yet entertaining chronicler of voyages upon the Great Lakes, Boyer collected and preserved a number of classic stories of the ships and men who sometimes met tragedy but who also often completed numerous voyages without incident. Recognized as a fastidious researcher, he was able to correct a number of enduring misconceptions and debunk some outright myths. His series of books, Great Stories of the Great Lakes, True Tales of the Great Lakes, Strange Adventures of the Great Lakes, Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes, and Ships and Men of the Great Lakes, combined technical data with engrossing narrative. Many of the memorable personalities who risked their lives on the tumultuous waters are found throughout the pages of Boyer’s works. Contemporary evidence, often collected from local news stories, add credence to his plausible theories as to how it happened that many of the vessels met their demise. A longtime resident of Willoughby, Ohio, Boyer served as a trustee for both the Great Lakes Historical Society and the Fairport Harbor Historical Society. He died in Willoughby on October 15, 1977.
News media award from Ohio Optometric Association, 1975; Heywood Broun award from Cleveland Newspaper Guild for feature writing; award from Press Club of Cleveland.