Featured photo: The general store in Fruitvale opened and operated for many years by UT System Randy Boyd’s family.
The Boyd family has called Tennessee home since the 1800s—1832, to be exact. The Boyds first settled in the small town of Fruitvale, located in Crockett County—current population of approximately 65.
My great-great uncles J.O. “Ollie” and Oscar Boyd opened the J.O. Boyd General Merchandise Store in 1918. Between 1920 and 1925, Uncle Ollie grew his business offerings to include a barber shop, potato barn, and various packaging and shipping businesses.
The value of hard work and resiliency was hard-wired into the Boyd family centuries ago, and that has continued on through me personally from a very early age. My dad gave me my first job at 8 years old for $1 an hour sweeping floors in his factory, and I later ran injection molding machines for minimum wage to pay for my college education. Even later, my wife supported me as I sold my first product as an entrepreneur out of an unairconditioned Dodge Maxivan.
As students across the UT System pursue academic excellence and explore career aspirations, we must never underestimate the profound impact of family and home in molding our character, values and sense of belonging. For many of us, our families are the foundation upon which we build our dreams, ambitions and sense of purpose. For others, they find the families and their sense of belonging on campus—in residence halls, classrooms and organizations—and that base allows them to build secure futures.
Whether through families born or chosen, they build strength and resilience into our communities and society. A nurturing environment provides space for growth, helps students excel academically and fosters belonging that contributes to overall well-being.
Through the pages of Our Tennessee, you’ll learn more about the alumni, faculty, students and friends who continue to enrich our lives through education, discovery and connection—all through the lens of family and home.
Randy Boyd, Knoxville ’79