After spending seven years in a Tucson prison, Marvin and Clarys Boyle have been rewarded in Payson for their good behavior.
The Boyles, volunteer musicians who've had long-running gigs in Payson Care Center and a prison in Tucson, have been named Volunteers of the Year by Payson Care Center and the Southwest Division of Life Care Centers of America, the parent corporation of the long-term-care facility.
The couple was selected from a field of nominees representing 34 facilities in Arizona, California and Nevada. They will now contend against five other outstanding volunteers from around the country for the Carl W. Campbell Wind Beneath My Wings Award.
That award will be announced Aug. 30 in Seattle, Wash., during an awards banquet that the Boyles plan to attend.
"This couple has been doing this for several years, and not just here," said Southwest Division Vice President Phil Worley, who hand-picked the Boyles for the award.
The couple stood out from the other nominees, he said, because rain or shine, Clarys and Marvin Boyle are at Payson Care Center every Tuesday and every Sunday to perform for the residents there.
Before becoming regular performers at Payson Care, the harmonious pair played for convicts in Tucson. The intensive searches to get into the prison eventually discouraged the pair.
The guards wanted to make sure nothing was smuggled in but music, Marvin quipped. Apparently some gospel singers smuggled in some contraband, he said.
In Payson, the musicians begin their Tuesday performances at Payson Care Center with a Bible study in the chapel, Clarys said. Marvin plays his custom guitar and Clarys plays an organ as the residents come in. After performing a few gospel hymns, Marvin tells the audience a true story, she said.
"They are usually about famous people and they are always true. Then he brings in a Bible scripture that applies to the story."
After the Bible study, Clarys and Marvin help the residents down to the dining room for a sing-a-long session.
"We sing all the old songs," she said, and the Boyles try to get to know the residents personally.
"They think it is neat when we call them by name," she said.
The couple also performs during the center's Sunday church services.
"Their dedication to others is over and above the call of duty," said Deb Gerard, activities director for the center. The Boyles have invited her to bring her violin and sit in with them from time to time.
"It has been so much fun," she said.
Music is so important to some of these residents, said Executive Director David Needles.
"They will open up, talk and sing along," he said. "The rest of the time they are quiet and uninvolved. (The Boyles) have dedicated this portion of their life to giving to the elderly."
"We can provide basic care, but we don't always have the time to entertain and socialize like we would like to."