LIVE OAK — In his 33 years serving on the Live Oak City Council, Bennie Thomas has seen a number of councilmen come and go.
But Don Boyette was a member of a special class of councilors.
“Don was one of the best councilmen we’ve had come through Live Oak,” Thomas said.
Boyette, who served on the council from 1992 to 2008, passed away May 28 at the the V. A. Medical Center in Gainesville. He was 80.
Boyette served in the U.S. Navy before working for the State of Florida as a correctional officer and a beverage agent. He then owned and operated Boyette's Gun & Tackle in Live Oak for more than 20 years and helped launch Boyette Brothers pecans.
In those years running the store, Boyette’s became the city’s melting pot at lunch time. Lewyn Boyette, Don’s son, recalled everybody from lawyers and doctors to city workers would all flock to the store for a bite of whatever it was his father was cooking that day.
“They’d all show up every day because they knew that daddy was going to be cooking,” Lewyn Boyette said. “He could cook and he loved to cook.”
Following that desire to serve, Boyette then became a city councilor. And he made an impression on more than just Thomas with his work with the city.
“Don was a good councilman,” said Sonny Nobles, who served on the council alongside Boyette before becoming mayor in 2002. “He always had the interest of the people in mind. Not only will I miss but there’s no doubt this community is going to miss him too.”
Lewyn Boyette said his father was steadfast in his beliefs. That outspokenness included sharing his thoughts on Facebook in recent years but also led to some heated debates with Nobles and George Blake during their tenures on the city council.
“Anybody who knew him has a Papa Don story,” he said, noting that those debates didn’t leave the council chambers. Rather, the men would immediately transform back to being friends as soon as the meeting ended.
Nobles agreed that they had developed a personal relationship and had been friends for years.
In fact, Nobles said Boyette would frequently stop by and visit Nobles at his house on his way to the FFA ag farm.
“We worked at the ag farm tirelessly over the years,” Nobles said.
Lewyn Boyette said with family members overseeing the FFA, his father did indeed become a tireless advocate and volunteer for the farm. Whether it was from calling around and securing donations or physical labor, Boyette helped transform the farm into a source of pride for the FFA.
“I’d see him come in some days drenched in sweat and I’d ask him, ‘Daddy, why are you doing this?” he said, adding it was quite moving when FFA students donning their blue jackets came into the funeral Friday and lined the first few rows.
“I couldn’t even look over there.”
That was just part of the support the family has received the past week, all of which has made an impact.
“The outpouring of family, friends, the church…it really makes you realize what a great community this really is,” Lewyn Boyette said. “The outpouring has made it a lot easier on us.
“It’s been touching and make you realize the impact daddy did have on these people.”