Remembering a True Tech Man During Finals

On the surface, the scene in the Rothwell Hall lobby at Arkansas Tech University on Friday morning looked very familiar.

Proud alumnae and friends of the institution were giving back to Tech by serving breakfast to students during that most stressful time on a university campus — final exams week.

But Linda Boyd of Russellville (photographed, middle) and her two daughters — Russellville natives and Arkansas Tech alumnae Kirsten Boyd Banks (photographed, right) and Kelsey Boyd Cox (photographed, left) — were doing more than providing breakfast and smiles on Friday morning. They were remembering a man dear to each of them.

For many years, Linda participated in the Arkansas Tech Alumni Association breakfast during finals program with her father, Howard M. “Baldy” Faulkner of Russellville. Baldy would wear his green sport coat to campus as a clear indication that he was a Tech man through and through.

“He loved Tech, and he loved his family,” said Kelsey on Friday morning.

Per tradition, Linda and Baldy reported for volunteer duty at the end of the fall 2014 semester.

“He would always wake up at 3:30 a.m. on those days,” said Linda, recalling how her father looked forward to serving students at breakfast during finals. “He thought maybe we should get there at 6:30. I always told him I wasn’t going to get there that early, and to just wait until I called him.”

Fall 2014 turned out to be their final opportunity to serve breakfast during finals together. Baldy passed away at the age of 88 on April 3, 2015.

A graduate of Conway High School, Baldy played football at Arkansas Tech under head coach John Tucker, the Original Wonder Boy, and earned a degree in psychology. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and went on to a 25-year career as a psychological examiner with Arkansas Rehabilitation Service.

Baldy stayed busy in retirement by working at Counseling Associates in Russellville, Russellville Realty and First Arkansas Valley Bank. If the Golden Suns or Wonder Boys were playing at home, chances are he was there. His rooting interest was only heightened after Kirsten was recruited to play volleyball at Tech.

When Baldy passed away just a month before final exams for the spring 2015 semester, Linda knew she was not ready to return to breakfast during finals without him. A phone call a few months later brought her back.

“Kirsten called and said she and Kelsey had worked it out…they were coming into town on that Thursday night and we were all going to serve breakfast together on Friday morning,” said Linda.

And serve they did, just a few feet from the spot where Baldy and Linda volunteered together for the final time one year earlier.