One of my father’s often-used quotes was “the worst thing about getting older is you know more people who die.”

I don’t know when he came to that realization but it is 100% accurate.  When you are in your 20s and 30s you expect to lose grandparents and as you get into your 40s and 50s then it’s more likely parents of friends.  Of course most of us have dealt with the death of someone whose life ended way too soon and those hit and hurt the most. I’ve lost far too many close friends that way and I have a stack of memorial cards to show for it.

The other part of this equation is that funerals often become reunions of sorts because you see those you have not come in contact with for years and sometimes decades.  This is especially true if you are mourning the death of a friend you grew up or went to school with.  Often I find myself when leaving saying “it was nice seeing you just not under these circumstances.

All of these thoughts ran through my mind Wednesday when attending the services for Michael “Chopper” Boyd, who passed suddenly last week at the age of 66.  When I first moved to Seaside Heights he was among those I met quickly because our fathers were friends.

“Chopper” lived on Pelican Island which was the scene of some tremendous lawn football games.  Later we were teammates on the great Central Regional football team of 1971. He was a tough offensive guard and I was a scrub offensive tackle.  His father Joe was our legendary head coach who died shortly after that historic season at the age of just 52.

While not especially close we remained friends for well over 50 years and anytime we ran into one another we always use our nicknames from back in the day. He was Chopper and mine was Zelmo.  His lasted a lifetime. Fortunately for my family mine really did not.

One of my great thrills came just a few years ago when I led an effort for his dad and uncle to be honored by the Shore Football Coaches Foundation.  It was a good night for the Boyd Family which is sort of like “Seaside Royalty” and to this day still represented on the Seaside Heights Beach Patrol.

Mike “Chopper” Boyd leaves behind his wife and high school sweetheart Joanne, three children, two grandchildren, a brother, three sisters and friends who will smile when they think of him.