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Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development

Who the Heck is Huck?

McDill "Huck" Boyd

April 17, 1907 - January 9, 1987 

McDill "Huck" Boyd was a firm believer in the values, lifestyles and resources of that part of our nation known as "rural."

He grew up in the small-town newspaper business, attended Kansas State University, and returned to a career with the family newspaper -- the Phillips County Review. He published a weekly newspaper in a western Kansas county seat town of 3,000 people, yet his voice was heard and heeded in the halls of Congress and the White House.

He saw the need for jobs and economic development in his community. He was instrumental in seeing that the world's first cooperatively-owned oil refinery was built in his hometown of Phillipsburg, Kansas.

Huck helped solve the doctor shortages in rural areas by obtaining legislative approval for funding the first family practice residents in Kansas, legislation copied elsewhere in the U.S. He worked on issues to benefit the elderly, youth, and the needy.

When the Rock Island Railroad declared bankruptcy in the late 1970s, it appeared that more than 400 miles of track would be abandoned, and this vital service to farmers, businesses, and communities in the region would be lost. Against the odds, Huck Boyd led the fight to continue service. He helped establish the Mid States Port Authority which bought the track. Today, through his efforts, there is a private sector, shortline railroad operating on what would have been abandoned track.

Huck was an advisor to governors, senators, and presidents. Twice a gubernatorial candidate, he represented Kansas on the Republican National Committee for 20 years until his death in 1987. In these national circles, he was known as an advocate of rural people and rural values.

Huck was awarded the "Kansan of the Year," the "First Kansan of the Decade," "Distinguished Kansan for Citizenship," "Man of the Year for Forestry," and the KSU Alumni Association's most prestigious Medallion Award. He received the highest awards of the journalism profession, including the William Allen White Award for Journalistic Merit, the first Victor Murdock award for Distinction in Journalism, and the Eugene Cervi award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Publishers for public service through community journalism. In 1956, Huck Boyd served as president of the Kansas Press Association. In 1990, he joined his father Frank, mother Mamie, and brother Bus in being inducted posthumously into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame -- making the Boyds the only family in history to have four members so recognized.

He was chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents and a delegate to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva, Switzerland -- but he also found time to lead the fund drive so the local high school band could go to a bowl game.

After his death on January 9, 1987, his friends joined in establishing the Huck Boyd Foundation to continue his legacy. The Foundation, officed in Phillipsburg, sponsors three projects: 1) the McDill "Huck" Boyd Community Center in Phillipsburg; 2) the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media, in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University; and 3) the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at KSU.

On September 21, 1997, the Huck Boyd Foundation dedicated the new Huck Boyd Community Center in Phillipsburg.  The 21,000 square-foot building includes a 500-seat auditorium for fine arts performances and group meetings; a state-of-the-art teleconference facility for seminars and training meetings; and an operating model railroad museum with railroad memorabilia.  The Huck Boyd Center is at 860 Park Street in Phillipsburg.  You can call the Huck Boyd Foundation for information at (785)543-5535.