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Daily Journal
     November 11, 2020      #16-316 KDJ
Cindy and Hugh Boyt

Charming love story blooms from military

By Mike Frey

Countless veterans can relate how their military experience instilled positive traits and skills that remained with them long after their service ended.

These include characteristics such as discipline, respect, focus, work ethic, leadership and teamwork, among others.

This experience applies to a certain pair of veterans, but they also gained something far less common but purely precious in the process. Hugh and Cindy (Posing) Boyt became life partners through their service.

Now married 42 years, the story of their union began in 1977 when both were serving in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. They met at a recreational facility on the base, and the attraction was immediate.

“He asked me to go to a football game with him,” recalled Cindy, a Kankakee native and 1974 graduate of Kankakee Eastridge High School.

She agreed, and her fondness for this man who originally hailed from Louisiana grew by leaps and bounds in a very short time. By March 1978, only several months later, they were married.

From there, the years passed quickly and memorably. By 1980, both had been discharged and had settled here in Cindy’s hometown. When asked why the decision was made to return home with her new husband, she provides a logical answer.

“My father owned Del’s Pest Control and offered him a job,’’ she said.

The country was in a recession as the decade of the ‘80s dawned and a steady job is something many a returning veteran was in search of at that time.

Once in Kankakee, Hugh adapted to his adopted hometown quickly. A personable man with the ability to make friends quickly, he worked in pest control before taking on work with the Riverside Medical Center Emergency Department. Then, a prime opportunity opened that suited him and his skill set well, and he joined the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Police Department. He remained for the next 26 years.

It proved to be an ideal match, and one Hugh was prepared for by his time in the Army.

“They say once you get into the military, you’re a man,’’ he said. “It’s true. It helps you with your maturity level. You definitely know the difference between right and wrong.’’

Hugh put those lessons to use as soon as he donned the uniform and badge.

“Police officers are like mediators, they’re not the judges in the courts,’’ he said. “We listen to both sides and decide how to make the call.’’

His ability to mediate and deal with the public in tense situations helped him gain other opportunities in law enforcement. He was assigned to a gang tactical unit, and sometimes the work led him to the streets of Chicago as some investigations had roots in both Kankakee County and the huge metropolis to the immediate north.

While the work put him in direct contact with young people who had found trouble, he also realized some of these youngsters had a chance to improve their fortunes with a bit of direction. He would refer to his military experience when given a chance to offer them counsel.

“I talked to a lot of young kids, a lot of young adults,’’ Hugh said. “I would ask them, ‘Where do you want to be in five years?’ I told them the military could help them get there.’’

Hugh offers the same advice to any person on the cusp of adulthood, regardless of whether or not that have had a brush with the law. He said those who enlist will have proven something significant by the time their duty ends.

“You have bad apples,’’ he said. “But the military weeds them out. There’s a lot of difference between an honorable and dishonorable discharge.’’

While Hugh was building a career, Cindy took a different path. She operated a daycare facility out of the family home for 30 years and raised the couple’s three daughters, Chris, Sara and Amanda.

While their career paths were different, husband and wife have similar views about entering the military. Cindy’s perspective differs in that she joined as a woman at a time only one woman out of 100 were doing so. That percentage is much higher now, and she endorses the increase.

“If they don’t know what they’re going to do it gives you a chance to grow and decide what you do with your life,’’ she said.

Both are now 63, and the pace of life has slowed somewhat for the couple, which suits them just fine. Their oldest daughter lives with her husband, two daughters and two sons in Florida, and their doting grandparents maintain close contact with them. Their middle daughter lives in Utah with her husband while the youngest remains in Kankakee.

Life has changed as the years have passed, but one aspect that was established on that fateful day in North Carolina many years ago has remained a constant.

“We’re still together, we still like each other,’’ Cindy said with a laugh.

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