Clarine Boyer wasn’t prone to sitting around and waiting for things to happen.
When a church denied her daughters entry to a Girl Scout troop, Boyer didn’t threaten a lawsuit or file a complaint. She researched what it took, became a Girl Scout leader herself and established her own troop in Easton’s old Delaware Terrace housing project.
Fifteen years after she died at age 77, about 70 people crowded into the Easton Area Neighborhood Center on Monday night as the community room was dedicated in Boyer’s name.
The longtime Easton resident, community activist and volunteer died on Nov. 22, 2002, a few days after suffering a stroke in that very room.
Family and friends recalled her dedication, her fire and her bravery at a time when the Easton-area’s black community was fighting for greater representation and equality.
Boyer worked side by side with many of Easton’s civil rights pioneers, often in the background and at the ground level. Folks rarely got anything over on her.
“I remember growing up in Delaware Terrace knowing Ms. Boyer was always right around the corner,” said Ken Brown, a city councilman. “I will never forget her tenacity to know that you needed an education to move forward. She pushed for that early in your life, and that was very important to us.”
Boyer was a founding member of the South Side neighborhood center and a 50-year member of the Easton branch of the NAACP.
“Nothing ever got in her way,” said her granddaughter, Reya Boyer Liberto. “When I think of her I think of courage and I think of all it must have taken her to forge through. It takes courage not to get discouraged.”
She came to Easton from Philadelphia in 1947 to be on Maryfarm, the Catholic-run communal farm in Williams Township operated by Dorothy Day.
She married and raised five children, working several jobs and balancing her responsibilities as a mother with her burgeoning community activism, according to her son Marvin Boyer.
She retired in 1990 from the former Western Electric Co. in Allentown and had worked as a nurse’s aide at Easton Hospital and Gracedale.
Boyer grew up in segregated New Orleans and wasn’t afraid to call things as she saw them, according to her family.
She picketed stores that wouldn’t hire black workers and railed against the scarcity of color leading Easton-area classrooms. Her many letters to the editor published in The Express and The Express-Times often drew a raft of responses.
“She wasn’t always that diplomatic,” said Marvin Boyer, 67, of Palmer Township. “But pretty words aren’t always true and true words aren’t always pretty.”
She taught her family that hard work and education are the keys to a better life, Marvin Boyer said.
“I don’t remember her buying anything for herself,” he said. “She sacrificed for us. Mom gave it all. She loved her family and she loved her community.”
The refurbished community room was two years in the making. Dozens of volunteers planned and worked on it. Its centerpiece is a wall with a portrait by Easton-area artist and middle school teacher Valerie Wheeler Davis.
Marvin Boyer said he was grateful for the turnout and it was appropriate the dedication was held Monday.
It came on the 50th anniversary of the neighborhood center, which maintains a food pantry and urban garden and administers rental and utility assistance programs, as well as a transitional shelter for working families.
It also came on Juneteenth, which is observed in black culture on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.
“My mother was a student of black history that she taught to us,” Marvin Boyer said.
The community room isn’t the only thing named for Clarine Boyer. Starting next year, the Easton NAACP will recognize her commitment with the Clarine Boyer Foot Soldier of Justice Award, given at the Freedom Fund banquet to a community volunteer for outstanding service, said branch President Lance Wheeler.