Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd
Professional and Community Leader
Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd was born to Vallie and Burris Davis on December 16, 1937 on a farm in Jones County, Texas. It would be her father’s purchase of a service station on Pine Street that brought the family to Abilene when Johnnie Lou was seven. The family lived in a small house on Lowden Street not far from the service station and just four blocks north of the Hardin-Simmons campus. It was the influence of her hard working parents that instilled in Johnnie Lou, and in her brother, the values of hard work, personal responsibility and service to others.
As a young girl Johnnie Lou frequently passed through the HSU campus and dreamed of one day becoming a student on the Forty Acres. Her first chance came when Dr. Otho Polk offered swimming lessons in Marston Gym. Johnnie Lou was the first to sign up. In time, she enrolled as a Hardin-Simmons student and completed several hours before transferring to Howard College in Big Spring and earning her Associate’s Degree. She extended her education by enrolling in the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and earning her B.A. degree in Psychology and Business.
Along the way she married Jerry Avery and they had one daughter, Joni. Joni says, “I have watched with amazement and pride as my mother has touched one life after another…I have seen first-hand the impact she has had on her family, church, community and world.”
Beginning in 1966, Johnnie Lou began a career to aid both public and higher education, holding positions in the Abilene Independent School District, Texas State Technical College and Howard College where she taught, served as Financial Aid Director and as Assistant to the President. In 1979, Johnnie Lou opened her own consulting firm known as Avery and Associates, growing the business to employ over 100 people and, in the process, being named by the United States Small Business Administration as an Outstanding Woman in Business.
Her volunteer service has been recognized by the State of Texas in receiving the Governor’s Commendation for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership as well as being chosen as a distinguished volunteer by the Big Spring Chamber of Commerce, Big Spring Rotary and Lions Clubs, Girl Scouts of America, the Y.M.C.A., Beta Sigma Phi, the Big Spring State Hospital Council and as the first national recipient of the Award of Public Service granted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Johnnie Lou was instrumental in bringing a minimum security prison to Big Spring in response to the economic downturn suffered due to the closing of Webb Air Force Base.
Johnnie Lou has provided leadership to boards, commissions and foundations throughout west Texas including the Howard County Bicentennial Commission, University of Texas of the Permian Basin Development Board, Salvation Army Board of Directors, the Permian Scholars Foundation, the Leadership Big Spring program, Omar Burleson Foundation and the Big Spring Area Chamber of Commerce where she served as the first female president.
Additionally, she has given her time to serve on the boards of the Texas A&M Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas Tech University Health Science Center Advisory Board, the Abilene Philharmonic, Abilene Woman’s Club, Big Country High School Hall of Fame, WASP Museum, and the West Texas Girl Scout Council.
Five Texas governors have appointed Johnnie Lou to boards including the Superconducting Super Collider Board, the Aging Advisory Board, as chairperson for the Texas Board of Nursing Facilities Administrator’s Licensure, the Regional Selective Service Board and as a voting delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.
Following the death of her husband, Jerry Avery, Johnnie Lou channeled her interest in two new directions, banking and television. Beginning in 1991 she began hosting a weekly television program titled West Texas View broadcast on NBC affiliate, KWES in Midland. Starting in 1992, Johnnie Lou as served as a director for Western Bank.
In 2004, Johnnie Lou was married to Bruce Boyd and relocated back home to Abilene. Johnnie Lou has one daughter and three stepsons.
Lessons learned from loving parents and humble beginnings have served to benefit those living in any community in which Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd has lived and so, it is a high honor for Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd into the HSU Hall of Leaders.