Limitless energy serving the community makes Wilma Boyd 2008 Daily News' Outstanding Citizen
Wilma Boyd doesn’t run on batteries.
But like the Energizer bunny she “keeps on going.” Her seemingly limitless energy, and solid judgment shown in partnering with local organizations for the good of the community earned her the 2008 Naples Daily News Outstanding Citizen award on Saturday night.
“Our Naples Daily News Outstanding Citizen has been banging the drum for our community for a quarter of a century with great joy and enthusiasm,” said former Daily News Publisher Corbin Wyant before announcing Boyd as this year’s winner.
She’s “always a visionary, always thinking of others and how their days may be brightened,” he said.
To surprise the crowd, Daily News Publisher Chris Doyle handed the speech over to Wyant, who handled the award for so many years. Boyd, president and CEO of Preferred Travel of Naples, was honored during the 61st annual dinner for the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. About 400 attended. The theme was “United for the Future.”
When the award’s announcement, which was kept secret, was made, Boyd walk to the stage amid a standing ovation.
She told the crowd she was as shocked and surprised as when she was named Pumpkin Queen of Zainsville, Ohio, more than 50 years ago.
“It’s one of the most wonderful honors someone can receive in a county where there are so many people in the community that are so giving, so loving, so hard working that the award could have gone to anyone in this room,” said Boyd, who wore a royal blue evening gown and was given a stuffed Energizer bunny along with a glass trophy.
One of Boyd’s nominators described her as a “leader among leaders, who constantly inspires and motivates others.” Another described her as a “role model extraordinaire.”
Boyd is a mentor for everyone in the community, said Janet Lee, an administrative assistant for Boyd who has known her for five years.
“She’s an exceptional woman who has done so much for this community,” Lee said.
She was also lauded for her lifetime of continued accomplishments and kindness to others.
“She’s one of the most wonderful women you could ever meet. She’s just fabulous,” said Brenda O’Connor, the chamber’s senior vice president for programs.
In social situations when O’Connor doesn’t know what to do, she thinks of Boyd. She came up with an acronym for it, “WWWD,” which stands for “What Would Wilma Do?” She had stationery made with the saying on it for Boyd.
“She’s one of my favorite people,” O’Connor said.
Among the organizations Boyd has been involved with are the Naples Community Hospital and the Naples Philharmonic Center of the Arts. The Community Foundation has also benefited from her persistence and determination, and her optimism has positively influenced the chamber and the Economic Development Council of Collier County.
Boyd has been honored repeatedly by the community and by her peers. Her list of recognitions may only be exceeded by the number of young people she’s mentored through Junior Achievement, the Boys and Girls Club, and the YMCA, Wyant said.
Boyd was honored as the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame Laureate in 1998. She was named a “Woman of Style” by “n — the magazine of Naples.”
She is a graduate of the Leadership Collier Class of 1996, and a past director of the Naples chamber and the Economic Development Council.
She is still an active member of the Naples Philharmonic League.
Before moving to Naples and opening Preferred Travel in 1984, she founded the Wilma Boyd Career School in Pittsburgh, Pa., serving as its president and director for 14 years.
She also wrote an educational book, “Travel Agent,” published by Simon & Schuster. She’s a past director of the American Express Travel Services Advisory Board in New York City.
Her company employs about 36 agents and support staff. It’s a full-service agency that offers cruises and tours, and handles everything from corporate travel to student exchanges abroad.
“We do a little bit of everything. Anything that has to do with travel we kind of touch on,” said Olga Placeres, agency manager.
Placeres has worked with Boyd for nearly 20 years. “She is always there for everyone, either in the community when they ask for help, or in the industry when someone needs advice,” she said of her boss. “When someone turns to her, she always listens to them and helps in any way that she can.”
The Outstanding Citizen award has been given out for decades.
“We are proud and fortunate at the Naples Daily News to be a sponsor of this award with the Chamber and to carry on the tradition,” Doyle said.
Past winners are: John Cardillo; Ellin Goetz; Henry B. Watkins; Mrs. S.F. Briggs; Dudley R. Gallahue; John W. Rogers; Lester F. Grimes; Mr. and Mrs. Lester Norris; Henry B. Watkins Jr.; Mamie B. Tooke; Joan A. Longshore; Eugene L. Turner; Earl G. Hodges; Joel Kuperburg; E.A. “Doug” Hendry; John Iamurri; Norman A. Herren; George B. Pittman; Edwin H. Bower; Sally Sitta; Henry L. Caballero; William G. Price; Dr. Bruce Boynton; Mary Cameron; William L. Barton; Edward J. Oates Jr.; William J. Longshore; Miles Scofield; Ad Miller; Dr. Weimer K. Hicks; Patricia M. Barton; Willard “Bill” Hill Jr.; Polly Keller; Herbert Cambridge; Bea Harper; Donald L. Berry; Myra Janco Daniels; William E. Barnett; Holland T. Salley; J. Dudley Goodlette; Edwin J. Putzell Jr.; Helen E. Franke; Michael Watkins; Lavern Norris Gaynor; Sister Judy Dohner; John and Kathleen Passidomo; Nancy and William Lascheid; Henry “Heine” Albrecht; Juliet C. Sproul; Bob Moates, and John R. Wood.
Staff Writer Tracy Miguel contributed to this story.