Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Selvoy Jarrett Boyer (1897-1985)

From the August 1959 edition of the Millennial Star, Volume 121.

   During a life that extended nearly nine decades, Selvoy Jarrett Boyer was a prominent fixture in political and religious affairs in Utah for nearly sixty years. A former Mayor of Springville, a multi-term state representative, member of the Utah state tax commission and agriculturalist, Boyer gained later prominence when he was appointed as the president of the first British Mormon temple in 1958...truly a man of many achievements!
  Selvoy J. Boyer was born in the town of Springville, Utah on February 6, 1897, one of several children born to John Slevoy (1867-1945) and Susannah Bailey Jarrett Boyer (1868-1943). Boyer was a student in the Springville school system and later graduated from Brigham Young University. He married in Manti, Utah to Mary Gladys Sessions on January 29, 1919 and later had the following children: Keith Selvoy (1919-2011), LaMar S. (1921-2002), Phyllis Rooney (birthdate unknown), John Carl (1926-2004) and Jerrol M. (1928-2007).
  Baptized into the Mormon church early in his life, Selvoy Boyer journeyed to Great Britain in 1923 at the behest of Church President David Oman McKay to serve as a missionary in the Nottingham district for the LDS church. Boyer remained in England until 1925, whereafter he returned to the United States. Following his return to Utah Boyer became a Bishop for Springville's second ward and throughout the 1930s Boyer continued to serve both Springville and the LDS church in a number of different vocations, including being a member of the State Tax Study Committee as well as the state defense council. In addition to his numerous civic and church posts, Selvoy Boyer was a farmer and as such was highly concerned with matters relating to agriculture in Utah. He served as the President of the Utah Crop Improvement Association and was also a former vice-president of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.

From the Provo Evening Herald, August 25, 1938.

   In 1938 Boyer made the jump into state politics, announcing his candidacy for the Utah State House of Representatives. In September he won election as a Democratic representative from Utah County with 704 votes, taking his seat in January of the new year. During his terms in office Boyer made a name for himself as a sponsor of farm legislation and in January 1945 introduced an unusual bill that aimed to curb the production of miss-weighed bags of wheat and corn flour, corn meal, and hominy grits. As the Salt Lake Herald noted in its January 16, 1945 edition, any violation in Boyer's bill would be considered a misdemeanor, and "upon conviction, the offender would be fined no less than $25 or more than $500 for each offense." 

   The years 1945-1946 saw Selvoy Boyer serving as mayor of Springville, Utah and in the early part of the latter year took on the important post of President of the LDS Mission in London. His service as President extended from 1946-1950 and during his stewardship also served as the editor of the churches' "Millennial Star" periodical. Boyer's time as head of the LDS church's British mission concluded at the end of 1949 and in the spring of 1950, he and his wife returned home to Utah. In September 1950 Boyer spoke of his time in Britain during a speech at the Wasatch Academy and his talk was later described by the Manti Messenger as being "frankly critical of the socialist economy of England as compared to the free-enterprise system of the United States" and "repeatedly warned of a trend of socialism in America."
  Within a short while of returning to Utah Boyer returned to political life, being appointed as a member of the Utah State Tax Commission. His time on the commission saw him serve as head of the property tax division and he continued to serve on this board until his appointment as the President of the LDS church's new Mormon Temple in London in July 1958. Erected at the cost of 1.5. million dollars, the temple was dedicated by LDS President David O. McKay, who had named Boyer as the temple's first president. Boyer resigned from the tax commission on August 15, 1958, and by September had arrived in England to assume his duties. 
Selvoy Boyer during his Presidency of the London Temple (from the Millenial Star, 1959).

   Boyer's time as Temple President concluded in July 1964 and at the end of that month, he and his wife returned to Utah. His time in London was remarked by the Millennial Star and one of prominent growth for the LDS Church, noting that the "man with the crooked finger who gives you the straight talk will be greatly missed in Great Britain. Wherever he went he was greeted with a love that had grown up through six hard years of hard work and sound common sense sermons."
  In December 1965 Boyer was beset by personal tragedy when his wife of over forty years died. Mary Gladys Sessions Boyer was 75 years old and was later interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Springville. Following his wife's passing Boyer remarried on November 22, 1967, to Agnes Reynolds McKay (1898-1988) and during the remainder of his life served the LDS church in a number of different capacities, including as a President and Elder. He died shortly after his 88th birthday on February 24, 1985 and was interred alongside his wife Mary at the Evergreen Cemetery.


  1. This man is my Great-grandfather. I'm proud to be his descendant.

  2. Uncle Selvoy was my great uncle and brother to my grandmother Catherine Boyer Buchanan. His sage guidance to me as a child has blessed my life beyond measure.

  3. I share this strange name of my grand and great grandfather John Selvoy. Both great men. I was only around Selvoy a few times but remember him vividly. Aunt Phyllis's birthday is July 29 1923

  4. President Boyer saved my LDS British Mission in 1960 and was an ever inspiration throughout my service.

  5. President Boyer was an inspiration to us struggling pioneers in the British Mission. His straight talk and good gospel sense set out course for growth that the World War Two years had seriously affected negatively.

    I doubt that any mission president anywhere has had the same lasting impact as Selvoy had. I have many vivid memories of him as he restructured the mission and its leadership and later as the London Temple President.

    British Saints owe him a great debt for his fearless leadership. Often after he had spoken and re-set the courses we were on, he would ask, "Is that clear enough?" Do I need to clarify anything?"

    He was more than a tonic to us, he was a Godsend.

    None of his descendants or relations need ever keep the fact that they are related to him a secret in case anything he did wrong should come to light and then jump up and bite them, because he lived his religion and expected us to do the same.

    God bless you all.

  6. Derek H. Hall - August 28, 2016August 28, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    President Boyer sealed me and my three siblings to my parents in the London temple in 1958 while he served as its president. In 1960 we emigrated to Utah. President Boyer returned home to Utah in 1965 and in 1967 he sealed my wife and I in the Salt Lake temple. Needless to say, he has had an eternal influence on me and my family. I write this short rememberance as my wife and I prepare today's lesson for the Marriage and Family Relations class in St. George, Utah.

  7. Selvoy Boyer journeyed to Great Britain in 1923 " ... at the behest of Church President David Oman McKay to serve as a missionary in the Nottingham district ... "

    David O McKay did not become President until 1951.