MizHat - Remembering Roy Helen with Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd
Thursday, November 9
7 pm - Grace Loggia
Join us as we remember Roy Helen Mingus Ackers with a special talk presented by author, Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd. Boyd will speak about her book, MizHat.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd embarked on a special journey a year ago – collecting stories, researching, and writing the informal biography of Roy Helen Mingus Herndon Ackers, aka MizCheevus. Now the book, entitled MizHat, has been printed and is on the way here. She is eager to have others enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.
The book-writing seed was planted in Johnnie Lou’s mind in 2015 when she was asked to introduce Roy Helen, the honoree, at the Legacy Luncheon. Johnnie Lou, in 20 minutes, told a quick story of her life in funny anecdotes. It was such a hit that many urged her to write a book about Roy Helen and her amazing life journey.
At the time, Johnnie Lou was still hosting a weekly television show on KWES-TV, the NBC affiliate in the Midland/Odessa market. She had been hosting this show for 24 years and had already said she would retire from this job on her 25th anniversary as producer and host of The West Texas View interviewing interesting guests to the Permian Basin or characters and contributors who makes West Texas so special.
It had been easy to do the television show for the first 13 years when she lived in the Permian Basin, but after moving to Abilene, her hometown, she had to drive 2 ½ hours each way to film her show every week. She left her house at 5:00 a.m. to be ready to begin filming at 8:30 p.m. The drive got old after 12 years of this drive. So on her 25th anniversary, the TV station personnel gave her a big send-off and she closed that wonderful chapter of her life in April 2016.
In the meantime, she was still thinking about a book about Roy Helen and decided to get busy on that project. Nine months later she finished the book, and having acquired a publisher, Texas Star Publisher, she and their editors began the editing, design and formatting process of the book in January. She gives major credit to Glenn Dromgoole for his guidance and suggestions along the way. She said, “Glenn and Carol were the best things that ever happened to the book as editors and publisher.”
She is quick to say that having an interesting subject like Roy Helen made it easy to write. And because so many friends and family shared funny or poignant stories to be included in the book, it ended up being almost 300 pages. Readers can follow the funny, fascinating journey of MizHat from birth on a farm outside Anson to forever young in Abilene with each chapter of her laugh-filled and love-enveloped life unfolding.
Johnnie Lou says, “I want people to feel the way she touches those around her with kindness, acceptance, and warmth. They will hear the words of others who tell funny tales and RoyHelenisms like…even when we die, we will have to go through Dallas to get to heaven! And readers will see her strength of character (like the courageous young Roy Helen who told her grumpy employer she would rather sift sand in a nunnery than work for him.)”
“Even the people who think they know Roy Helen well, will learn much more about this unusual woman,” says Johnnie Lou.
Five people were given an advance peeks at the book for their reactions. Their praise of the books foretells a promise that readers will find this book worthwhile.
Carol Hall, daughter of Roy Helen’s long time employer, Elbert Hall, said, “There’s nothing as much fun as a surprise and there’s no better surprise than Roy Helen walking into a room. This book shows her surprising joy and amazing life.” Carol Hall lives in New York City where she is an acclaimed playwright. She is best known for writing the words and music to “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
Betty and Charlie Hukill, Abilene cultural and civic leaders, said, “Roy Helen is the mistress of fun, and her unique zest infects everyone around her. This biography had to be written and written in this way.”
Dr. Virginia Connally, retired MD and Abilene’s first female medical doctor, is an old friend of Roy Helen. She said, “A book about Roy Helen is long overdue and this one captures the essence of her wit, wisdom and loving spirit!”
Dottie Korman, and her husband Gilbert were former neighbors. She said, “Our friendship with Roy Helen has been a blessing to us just as reading her book has been. This book depicts the Roy Helen I know—funny, loving, generous, and always shining optimism under her hat!”
“Anyone who knows Roy Helen well, knows she is a deeply committed Christian. I’m pleased this book brought out that aspect of her multi-faceted life. I have known Roy Helen since I came to Abilene as Director of Christian Education at St. Paul United Methodist Church, and I continue to admire her and follow her path, even after I left that position and moved to the faculty of Hardin-Simmons University,” said Dr. Robert Barnes, Chairman, Graduate School of Psychology.
Johnnie Lou especially agrees with Dr. Barnes comments as she, too, has been inspired by her faith and love for her Heavenly Father who daily walks with her. In the book’s Afterword, Johnnie Lou stated that by the time she finished the book, her admiration and appreciation of Roy Helen had only increased as she found her gifts of mind and heart scattered everywhere she’s been.
But it is Roy Helen’s comments that tell the tale of this humble, witty woman when she said, “What fun to go through this experience of having my life summarized into a book. And how humbling to think that anyone might want to read about my life!” and then she adds, “But it is the interesting people in my life, friends and family, about whom people will enjoy reading.”
The author, Johnnie Lou Avery Boyd, has worn many hats herself: 30 years as a college educator; 25 years hosting a weekly television program; 22 years as bank director; 45 years as a public speaker and consultant; 14 years as an entrepreneur; mother to an amazing daughter; widowed after 33 years of marriage to her first husband, Jerry; wife of second husband, Bruce, since 2004; life-long Christian; 17 years as Sunday School teacher; and friend to many. She has been honored at the national, state and regional levels for her leadership and accomplishments, including three Federal appointments and five State government appointments.