The Clarion University Alumni Society has named District Court Judge Robert L. Boyer as the Venango College 2014 Distinguished Alumnus.
Boyer will be honored on Tuesday, April 22 with a full day of activities at the campus including a community reception at 5 p.m. that day. He will receive his official award from the Alumni Association on June 6th at a dinner on the Clarion campus during the Alumni Weekend celebration.
Boyer is a judge on the Venango County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania. Boyer was elected to the court in 2007 to a term that expires in 2017.
Boyer is the youngest of six children with four sisters: Marion, Ruth, Sandy and Martha, and one brother, Ron. His father, Orville, was a pilot and was killed in a plane crash in 1960. His mother, Martha, remarried when he was fifteen years old to Julius Welms. He attributes his success to having grown up in a blue-collar family where they learned the value of everything they had, and a strong-willed mother that instilled a strong work ethic.
Boyer attended Franklin High School and also attended the Venango Technology Center in the auto body repair program. After high school he attended Denver Automotive and Diesel College earning a degree in Autobody Repair and Refinishing. He graduated at the top of his class and received several awards. He held several positions in and around Venango County for a number of years until deciding to go back to school.
Boyer recalls that the decision to go to college came about during Thanksgiving dinner at his mother’s house when he was “ambushed” with literature about different programs and schools offering paralegal programs. His family knew that he had an interest in law and thought that he could attend various schools part-time while working to obtain a degree.
“After they presented their logic I simply said that if I am going to go to law school then I am going straight through full-time,” said Boyer.
An agreement was reached and he began his studies at Clarion University–Venango Campus.
“I quickly fell in love with the school and my professors. I never realized that knowledge and learning could actually be so much fun. I still remember all of my professors and subjects, my favorites and my not-so-favorites. I accelerated my classes, taking 18 credits each summer and came within 4 credits of graduating in 2 ½ years. I graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science in general studies,” remembers Boyer.
His career in law started with his decision to attend Ohio Northern University. As with so many things in his life it was a set of unforeseeable circumstances that led Boyer to a life-changing decision. As all students wanting to attend law school he registered to take the Law School Admission Test. On the application form was a place to request a candidate referral service. The explanation given was that if you checked the box, the testing service would release your test scores as well as your undergraduate information and demographics to participating law schools. He decided that it couldn’t hurt so he checked the box.
“What a difference that made. I managed to score very well on my LSAT and combined with my grade-point average from Clarion and other information, I suddenly found myself being recruited by a number of law schools all over the country,” said Boyer.
He arranged to tour and fell in love with Ohio Northern University and received a three-year guaranteed full scholarship. He found that Ohio Northern University was much like Clarion.
He earned a position on the Moot Court Board of Advocates by winning a competition and also earned a spot on the Law Review, eventually becoming the Lead Articles Editor. After three years of intense study he graduated with high distinction, earning the Northern Medal as the highest ranking student, and graduated first in his class.
Working his way up through the ranks, Judge Boyer is now in his seventh year as Common Pleas Judge.
“To really understand my life I think it is important to also include some of the other factors that make me who I really am,” said Boyer. “Starting at sixteen years of age I became a volunteer fireman with the Sandycreek Township Volunteer Fire Department and continued this affiliation for 22 years, including the time when I was a practicing attorney. I was an active firefighter, holding every position during my years of service.”
“I became a certified emergency medical technician and a CPR instructor, responding to numerous medical emergencies over the years. I never did get to deliver a baby though,” he added.
“I attended training and received certification in numerous areas of fire-fighting and rescue. My family is and has always been more important than any honor, achievement, accomplishment or position I have obtained. Without family none of it would matter. I would never be where I am today without them,” said Boyer.
Judge Boyer and his wife, Leslie, have five children: Katherine Cronin (Kate); Bonnie Keith; Stephen Brundage (Steve); Robert Boyer (Mike); and Patrick Boyer (Pat). Their family has now grown to include five grandchildren and his most distinguished title is now “papa”.
“Judge Boyer has demonstrated, through his extraordinary personal example, what it means to give back to one’s community,” said Chris Reber, executive dean of Venango College. “My colleagues and I are delighted to have an opportunity to recognize Judge Boyer’s caring spirit and dedication to his family, to helping others, and to the community. He is an inspiration to us all.”