Springfield religious leader and advocate for the mentally ill, Bishop Neal Boyd dies at 61
SPRINGFIELD – Across town, people are mourning the death of a religious and community leader who was a strong advocate for people with mental illness.
Bishop Neal A. Boyd, 61, leader of Endtime Revival Holiness Church and crisis outreach counselor, died on Saturday after his car pulled off the road and hit a pole.
“Bishop Boyd was not just a man of fabric, he was a man of community, a healing presence and a gentleman who came together to work for the common good of all in our community of Springfield,” said said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. on Sunday.
Boyd’s car crashed around 8 a.m. on Roosevelt Avenue. He is not believed to have been injured in the crash but is believed to have suffered from a medical condition that led to his death, said Sarno and police spokesperson Ryan Walsh.
The police department’s traffic unit is investigating the crash, Walsh said.
“Whether it’s championing mental health causes or standing alongside our Springfield Police Department, Bishop Boyd has always been genuine, humble and caring. I was proud to call him my friend. Until we meet again, may God grant rest to your soul, ”Sarno said.
Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman said he met Boyd through all of the bishop’s work in the community. After his election in 2017, the two developed a personal friendship as well as a professional relationship.
Boyd was always keen to ask questions about his wife, Emila, and her family when the two met, he said.
“I am shocked and saddened to learn that Bishop Neal Boyd passed away yesterday. Bishop Boyd was a genuine and passionate advocate for our entire community, both as a religious leader and as an advocate for mental health awareness and action. Emila and I were honored to have hosted Bishop Boyd several times in our home and to have supported many of his causes throughout our friendship, ”said Lederman.
He offered his condolences to all of Boyd’s family and friends.
“He was a constant presence in the community. He had a good way to bring people in, ”Lederman said. “He had a calming and reassuring presence.
Ledermen said he saw Boyd’s involvement in the community as a three-fold way of caring for people. He served as a religious leader, he was a constant advocate and counselor who assisted people with mental illness, and he worked as a chaplain for local police departments.
But, he said Boyd was also involved in other things such as the annual Stone Soul Picnic.
Boyd had a doctorate in theology and a master’s degree in educational leadership, psychology and counseling.
He worked as a Crisis Intervention Advisor for MassSupport Network and served on the executive committee of the Pioneer Valley Coalition for Suicide Prevention. He has also served as president of the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the past.
He also founded a school in Kenya which helps orphans.