Mary Frances Boyles

May 24, 1935 - January 12, 2014
Mary Frances Boyles

Dr. Mary Frances Boyles passed away on January 12, 2014 at the age of 78. Born May 24, 1935, she was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and sister.

As a young girl growing up on a farm in western NC, Mary took her parents’ lessons of hard work and determination to heart, and applied them to her school work. A gifted student, she most loved reading, studying, and writing about literature. She pursued her passion for educational excellence throughout her lifetime as an accomplished student, teacher, and university professor and administrator.

Mary graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she majored in English. She taught in public high schools and community colleges in North Carolina while earning a master’s in English from UNC-Chapel Hill and a doctorate in English from UNC-Greensboro. Mary then accepted a professorship at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she also served as Director of the College Opportunity Program and Associate Vice Chancellor until her retirement. She shared her love of learning and educational excellence with thousands of North Carolina students, teachers and administrators over the course of her career, and was recognized as favorite teacher by countless students.

In 2002, Governor Michael Easley inducted Mary into the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of her life of service and commitment to the education of the citizens of North Carolina.

Mary is survived by her husband of 57 years, Bob Boyles of Wilmington NC, her daughter Kelli Boyles and son-in-law Mark Goulian of Philadelphia PA, her son Scott Boyles and daughter-in-law Stephanie Boyles of Kure Beach NC, her grandsons Mason Boyles and Jackson Boyles of Kure Beach NC, her sister Donnis Sakran and brother-in-law Ghazi Sakran of Winston Salem NC, her brother Charles Philbeck and sister-in-law Eunice Philbeck of Shelby, NC, and her sister Joyce Philbeck of Henderson, NC. She was preceded in death by her parents Major and Margie Philbeck of Shelby NC, her sister Carolyn Wesson and her brother-in- law Don Wesson of Shelby NC.

Our family wishes to express its deep appreciation to the loving caregivers at Clare Bridge of Wilmington and Lower Cape Fear Hospice for their amazing compassion, care and support. You became part of Mary’s extended family, and we will never forget you.

Mary’s family is planning a service in celebration of her life, to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, we respectfully request that consideration be given to a donation to either Lower Cape Fear Hospice at 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington NC 28401, or the American Association of University Women (

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Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403. 910.791.9099

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  • January 27, 2014
    Bill and Martha Reynolds says:
    I remember Mary Frances as a girl at Church at Poplar Springs. Mary was such a delight. I remember her as a pretty, vibrant, intelligent young woman. Always a centered girl. Mary knew who she was and where she was going. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

  • January 14, 2014
    Allen & Celia Williams says:
    To Mrs. Mary's family - my mother-in-law is in the same facility that Mrs. Mary was living and for several months they even sat at the same table. My husband and I went out to the facility several nights a week to see her and to make sure she ate. Mrs. Mary always had the sweetest smile, even when she wasn't feeling her best. However, she lit up like a beacon whenever Scott or Bob showed up. It was a sight to see. You all are in our prayers. We will miss her!