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'Beloved icon': Teacher, veteran and popular local performer Dick Boyd dies at 98
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'Beloved icon': Teacher, veteran and popular local performer Dick Boyd dies at 98

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Many people knew Dick Boyd as a teacher. Others knew him as Ebenezer Scrooge. Most people knew him as unforgettable. Boyd, a former middle school educator, military veteran and community performer at the Omaha Community Playhouse died Tuesday at the age of 98.

Boyd was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and married Miriam Hieronymus in 1950, who died in November of 2017. They had four children.

Boyd served in the Army Air Corps and was a World War II veteran of the South Pacific, according to a social media post from the Omaha Community Playhouse. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Midland College and a master’s in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He then went on to teach middle school language arts in the Council Bluffs Community School District for 28 years. He was the recipient of the district's outstanding teacher award in 1998 and twice served as the president of the Council Bluffs Education Association.

"He was a good teacher, and he devoted his time to that endeavor," said Larry DeChant, who was principal at Kirn Middle School during Boyd's last 10 years of teaching. "He was really well-liked by kids, and he was always very positive about learning and trying to inspire students to better themselves -- to make something of themselves."

He originated the role of Scrooge in the Playhouse’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” From 1976 to 2005, Boyd played Scrooge for 818 performances, to a total audience of 442,885 people, according to a post on the Omaha Community Playhouse’s Facebook page. Miriam joined the cast of “A Christmas Carol" for 17 years, when she grew tired of missing her husband during the holiday season.

"Many of his students attended that production over at the Playhouse," DeChant said. "He was a renowned actor over that."

Bob Snipp, who played opposite of Boyd for many years, talked fondly of their friendship. Snipp worked with Boyd for 29 years, out of Boyd’s 818 performances, 770 of those were with Snipp.

“Dick and I had a special bond because I was the one that ‘caught his flight’ from the playhouse stage to the top of the bed,” said Snipp, referring to a scene from "A Christmas Carol" in which Boyd was lifted in the air. Snipp recalled a time when Boyd's harness would unhook while he was in mid-air and the show had to stop in order to get him down.

“During a performance when we were lifted from the bed, but Boyd was a little too far out and ended smack against the bed frame," Snipp said. "He ended up ripping his lip open, and of course we didn't stop the show, so he had blood running down his face and the glitter was sticking to it. I don't think anyone noticed."

Steve Priesman, longtime stage manager for "A Christmas Carol," said Boyd never missed a show. He performed when he felt well or ill. Priesman said if he had a cold or if his knees were bothering him, the audience would have never known. Some of the cast would have never known.

No show was ever canceled.

“He was at no point in his life the 'Scrooge' that he so capably portrayed,” said Snipp. “He was always the ‘transformed’ Scrooge that appears at the end of the story -- loving, sharing and interested in his fellow man.”

Boyd gave his final Scrooge performance on Dec. 22, 2005, according to Nonpareil archives.

-- This story is developing.

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