The Union Review

The Life and Legacy of Dr. T. B. Boyd III

Reflections on the Passing of Our Chairman Emeritus



It is with great sadness that R.H. Boyd (RHB) and The Union Review acknowledge the passing of Dr. Theophilus Bartholomew Boyd III, fourth-generation president/CEO and chairman emeritus. Dr. Boyd loved his faith, his family, his community, and the company that was built by his great-grandfather, Dr. Richard Henry Boyd in 1896. Leading R.H. Boyd for more than forty years was his great joy.

In April 1979, Dr. T. B. Boyd III was appointed by the then National Baptist Publishing Board’s (NBPB) directors to assume command after the passing of his father, Rev. Dr. T. B. Boyd, Jr. Upon taking the helm, Dr. Boyd addressed the National Baptist Congress shortly thereafter and said: “It is a day of peace, a day of tranquility, a day of progress, and a day of recommitment to the very principles our forefathers laid down before us. Although the mantel has fallen on my shoulders, I will not let it hit the ground.”

The 32-year-old Dr. Boyd began leading with unsurpassed vigor and devotion and the NBPB and the Congress began to grow at a phenomenal rate. Dr. Boyd had been well prepared for the task, as he had grown up in the company, working part-time throughout his high school and college years. Upon graduating from Tennessee State University, Dr. Boyd began working full time as personnel director, working his way up through the company to gain a full understanding of all processes.

Dr. Boyd, in a 1990s photo, surrounded by his family (clockwise: Justin, Shalaé, T. B. IV, Mrs. Yvette Boyd, and LaDonna.

Dr. Boyd, in a 1990s photo, surrounded by his family (clockwise: Justin, Shalaé, T. B. IV, Mrs. Yvette Boyd, and LaDonna.

His first major assignment as a full-time employee of the company was to spearhead the design and construction of the new corporate headquarters, located at 6717 Centennial Boulevard in Nashville.

One of his most notable successes as CEO was the launch of The New National Baptist Hymnal. This classic book of songs remains one of the company’s most iconic product offerings.

As the 20th century drew to an end, Dr. Boyd changed the company’s name from National Baptist Publishing Board to R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation to honor the entrepreneurial genius of the company’s founder.

The cover of the memorial service program for Dr. T. B. Boyd III (Cover design by Melissa Phillips)

The cover of the memorial service program for Dr. T. B. Boyd III (Cover design by Melissa Phillips)

During the 1980s, attendance at the annual Congress grew to more than 20,000, and Dr. Boyd saw a need for more attention to young people. As Congress president, he inspired an innovative dimension of the Congress structure—the Youth Congress Division—designed for children, youth, and young adults ages 4 through 24. The Youth Congress includes two dynamic ministries that began under Dr. Boyd’s leadership—youth drill teams and dance ministry. Both ministries were designed to enhance the church’s spiritual growth and development of its younger generation.

His commitment to youth and education expanded to founding the R.H. Boyd Family Endowment Fund to support future generations of scholars and leaders. The fund provides scholarships and grants to students and community organizations, with a targeted focus on supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

Left: In the tradition of the Boyd family leadership, Dr. Boyd wore his traditional white suit during the March for Jesus parade. Right: Dr. Boyd addresses the National Baptist Congress assembly. Below: Dr. Boyd, along with Henry Hicks (fourth from left), then Nashville mayor Megan Barry (center) and Connie Kinnard from the Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Corporation (third from right) joined by other city and corporate leaders at the groundbreaking of the National Museum of African American Music. Photos: R.H. Boyd archives

Left: In the tradition of the Boyd family leadership, Dr. Boyd wore his traditional white suit during the March for Jesus parade. Right: Dr. Boyd addresses the National Baptist Congress assembly. Below: Dr. Boyd, along with Henry Hicks (fourth from left), then Nashville mayor Megan Barry (center) and Connie Kinnard from the Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Corporation (third from right) joined by other city and corporate leaders at the groundbreaking of the National Museum of African American Music. Photos: R.H. Boyd archives

Dr. Boyd, or “T. B.” as he was known to many, was a locally and nationally recognized leader and speaker. A pillar of the Nashville community, his keen insights and sage advice were often sought by others. His affiliations included Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Chi Boule. He was chairman emeritus of Citizens Bank, a former vice-chairman of the Meharry Medical College board of trustees, and was one of the influential founders of Middle Tennessee Chapter of 100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Dr. Boyd was a founding visionary and board member of the new National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) in Nashville, which opened in 2021, as well as a founding major donor for the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institute. The Boyd family, R.H. Boyd, and Citizens Bank have exhibits at NMAAHC.

Dr. Boyd earned many awards and recognitions throughout his career and life of service, including Great Seal of the United States Award, March of Dimes Man of the Year Award, Who’s Who in America, Trumpet Award, Thurgood Marshall Award, two Salt Wagon Awards, Best Dressed Man, Most Beautiful Couple Award, keys to multiple cities, and so many more. He was the recipient of a doctor of divinity degree from Shreveport Bible College in Shreveport, Louisiana, and a doctor of letters from Easonian Baptist Seminary in Birmingham, Alabama.



After thirty-eight years of leading the company to new heights as president/CEO, Dr. Boyd announced his retirement and transition to chairman emeritus status in October 2017. The RHB board of directors unanimously named Dr. LaDonna Boyd to succeed her father as the president/CEO and chairman of the board. She now carries on the legacy of the corporation, now in its fifth generation of providing Christian and inspirational resources for African-American churches and communities across the country.

Dr. T. B. Boyd III went to eternal rest on May 3. Funeral services were held at The Temple Church on May 12, 2022, in Nashville, and was attended in person and virtually by family members, friends, current and former employees, associates, and community leaders. Temple Pastor Darrell A. Drumwright served as officiant and eulogist for the services, which included fond remembrances from colleagues, friends, and family members.

Dr. Boyd standing in front of the company’s printing press, circa 1992. Photo: R.H. Boyd.

Dr. Boyd standing in front of the company’s printing press, circa 1992. Photo: R.H. Boyd.

Several proclamations from national and local churches and organizations were acknowledged during the service, including the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives, the Metropolitan Nashville Council, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and the National Missionary Baptist Convention, Inc..

During the service, Metro Council member Freddie O’Connell announced that May 15, 2022, would be recognized as Dr. T. B. Boyd III Day in Nashville, which also would have been Dr. Boyd’s seventy-fifth birthday.

Dr. T. B. Boyd III instilled the importance of building and leaving a legacy to everyone that he encountered and will be greatly missed. His legacy of service and leadership is fondly remembered by people from all walks of life. His public and private contributions helped many people to build their dream or further their vision.



Rosetta Miller Perry Publisher, The Tennessee Tribune

“I’ve known Dr. Boyd since the late 1980s. If it wasn’t for Dr. Boyd, I would not be publishing today. When I decided I wanted to publish a magazine, I talked to him. He gave me all the ins and outs and told me he would support me to help me get started. He also said he would always be there for me, if not in advertising, then to give me guidance. He showed me what the pitfalls were. He cautioned that I was going into business at a very difficult time; however, he would be there to help me. He was one of my first advertisers and I met with him many times in his office about the dos and don’ts of publishing.

“He was a well-respected, thoughtful leader. Whatever guidance he would give, you could rest assured that you were on the right track because he was just so confident, and he made you feel very confident.

“He was respectful and just very kind. He understood what I was going through because he was in the business and understood what a Black publisher goes through. Since he knew all about publishing, he didn’t mind sharing it, because he realized that there could be no competition to his operation. He was really happy to speak about publications in Nashville; that was a joy to him. There were times when I wanted to publish an article or something controversial, I would always check with T. B. Many times, he would say, ‘That’s okay,’ but there were many times when he said, ‘You gotta tone it down.’

“I remember a time when I was having problems with another community leader. T. B. told me, ‘You can’t disrespect a Black man in this city. You have to pull back.’ He got me back on track. T. B. understood people.”

Henry Hicks, President/CEO, National Museum of African American Music

“I’ve known Dr. Boyd since 2009. He really took the legacy that he inherited and expanded upon it, which made it more pivotal in the faith community. That is difficult to do, and noteworthy.

“He was one of the original visionaries of NMAAM, and I think it takes a lot of leadership to come up with an idea like that and then put your energy, as well as your money, behind it to make sure it moves forward. He did that. We are certainly, really, really grateful for his leadership creating this national institution.

“Dr. Boyd was an example of somebody who walks softly but carries a big stick. I always appreciated how he moved with elegance and spoke with dignity, and yet he was able to back up the things he was committed to. He was able to move things along and do it with the kind of grace that most of us aspire to.

“Shortly after I moved to Nashville, I recall my wife and I having dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Boyd. I appreciated the way he took the time to just sit with my wife, Crystal, and me and just get to know us. Discussing business wasn’t necessary. He just welcomed a new couple to town and got to know us personally. I really appreciate the fact that an icon in American business and an iconic leader would take the time to have an Italian dinner and get to know us. That made a big difference in making us feel comfortable in our new hometown.”

Dr. David Groves RHB Director of Publications Member, RHB Board of Directors

“Dr. Boyd’s legacy and impact are already great, and I believe they become even greater. He provided a needed service to an entire culture of people, the African-American community.

Because of his forward thinking, the New National Baptist Hymnal and its successor have taken their rightful place as the hymnals of an entire culture of people.

The Adult Christian Life Sunday school quarterly has dominated the market as one of the best pieces of literature for religious and biblical instruction for adults. The National Baptist Sunday School and BTU Congress has been a staple event in the Black community for more than a century, and it continues to nourish both young and old in the quest to provide biblical understanding and church training.

“I heard Dr. Boyd express many times, acknowledging the enormous weight upon his shoulders, that ‘failure is not an option.’ He knew the importance of what he was doing and thoroughly devoted himself to the task. History will remember him fondly for his dedication and commitment to excellence.

“Without hesitation, Dr. Boyd was a great leader. He surrounded himself with people who knew their fields of study and were masters at them. Although he was not a preacher, he worked with them and with all Christians to be sure that the materials his company developed were theologically sound and able to meet the needs of the people who used them. He was forever seeking new ways to maintain relevance and contemporary understanding. He also acknowledged that a strong business acumen would enable the company to continue to live and prosper.

“Dr. Boyd had outstanding reverence for God and love for his family, for the company, and for supplying churches with the appropriate literature to train their congregants.

“I can still hear him reminding people of the great potential God had invested in them. He often encouraged people to tell their problems about how big their God is. He also admonished people not to honor him; but rather, to God be the glory.”

Rev. Tommy L. Brown Pastor, New Mount Zion Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas Member, RHB Board of Directors

“Dr. Boyd has left an indelible imprint upon society. When you look at the contributions he made to the lives of others, not only through printed publications, but also through his charitable giving, a philanthropist, he was a mammoth of a man who had a big heart. He was a great visionary.

“He appointed me to the board of directors for the RHB corporation. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to spend time with him and hearing his vision for the RHB company…just to sit with him as a young pastor and hear his visions from God. He had such a heart for youth and children. He really believed in educating the children, not only from Christian education, but also pouring into them scholarly as well.

“Most notable to me were Dr. Boyd’s standard of excellence, his integrity, and his impeccable character. He was a gentleman and a kindhearted person.

“It was always amazing to watch him lead the March for Jesus parade at the National Baptist Congress. Just to see him leading that parade with the massive number of young people behind him was impressive. He was leading them to have a better quality of life. I shall forever have that memory of him in that white suit with the pom poms in his hands singing ‘Hail the National Baptist Congress.’”

Dr. Gerald Dew Vision Conference Dean Pastor, Antioch Baptist Church Chicago, Ill.

“Dr. Boyd had a level of integrity and tenacity that allowed him to continue to build on the foundation of his forefathers to continue the vision to provide churches with the highest quality of Christian education materials and in person training and development through the National Baptist Congress. Over the years our church has always been a strong supporter of R.H. Boyd and Dr. Boyd’s vision. He was a visionary.

“He had a good sense of humor. At the level of leadership that God allowed him to achieve, dealing with a myriad of individuals you have to have a sense of humor. You have to able to laugh at yourself, and he did that well.

“What really stood out to me about him was his obvious love and respect and commitment to his family, to his wife and his children. There was no mistake about his value of family. He cared for them and loved them.”

Senator Brenda Gilmore Tennessee General Assembly District 19

“Dr. Boyd will be missed greatly. He meant a lot to my family from the time I ran for Metro councilwoman to state representative. He was always so supportive, both financially and spiritually. He was so involved with the African-American community and the museum [NMAAM].

“He was a very progressive leader. I appreciated his ability to communicate with people from all walks of life. It didn’t matter if you were a king or queen or a working-class person, he was able to relate with you. I know based on his status that he rubbed elbows with people from all walks of life, but he never forgot his city or the community he came from.

“Dr. Boyd was always supportive of me and my political career. He always gave me a word of encouragement every time I saw him.”

Deborah Cole, Founder, DC Consulting and Former Citizens Bank President/CEO

“I knew Dr. Boyd for more than thirty years. Dr. Boyd had a tremendous impact and legacy in publishing. The impact he had with African-American publishing was astounding. He was tremendous to the community. He gave so much to the entire Nashville community. He was involved in so much. He gave to all types of causes. He played a part in Nashville and nationally. He was a very strong leader. Excellence was one of his fortes. He had a saying, ‘If you can’t go first class, stay on the porch.’

“I will always remember the opportunity that he allowed me to have as an employee of Citizens Bank, becoming the first female commercial bank president in Nashville. He was prominent in leading that movement. He was a tremendous icon. He served on two bank boards, something that required special permission from the FDIC regulators. He was a very devoted family man, and he was committed to the community as a whole. That says a lot. He presented and commanded excellence. He didn’t ask you to do anything he didn’t do.

Dr. Marlon Coleman Vision Conference Asso. Dean Mayor, City of Muskogee, Okla. Pastor, Temple of Hope Church

“I think what’s most notable was Dr. Boyd’s his desire to carry on the family’s legacy of providing quality works through print featuring the African-American experience. The impact is far beyond Sunday school literature. Dr. Boyd delivered materials featuring African Americans when there were no other materials of that kind in print. It inspired people like me and others by being able to see other people of color showcased in print literature.

“He was a matter-of-fact businessman. He knew how to stay on the cutting edge of being successful while still giving back to the religious community. He led several efforts to support religious genre even when he was criticized. For me, a leader is someone who does what’s right no matter what the perception is. That’s the type of leader he was.

“My fondest memory of Dr. Boyd was when my predecessor, Dr. B. W. Noble passed away, and I succeeded him as pastor of the Antioch Church. Dr. Boyd reminded me that Dr. Noble was always there for him and his family, and that the Boyd family would always be there for me. And to this very day that word from the Boyd family has been kept.”

Dr. James Hildreth, President Meharry Medical College

“Meharry Medical College is sincerely grateful for the long and faithful service by Dr. T. B. Boyd III as a trustee of the college. His generous gift of resources, his wisdom, and strong advocacy on behalf of the college in the city and nation had a significant impact on our legacy and mission. In recognition of his service and impact, Dr. Boyd is one of only a few past board of trustee members to be granted emeritus status.”

Councilman Freddie O’Connell Metropolitan Nashville Government

“When I moved to Salem town 15 years ago, there was a sign at the intersection of Rosa L. Parks Boulevard and Jefferson Street that heralded a new Museum of African American Music, Art, and Culture. Today, the museum is open on Broadway as the National Museum of African American Music.

I’ll never forget meeting Dr. T. B. Boyd III at an announcement for the museum, having learned how instrumental he was in its creation, and having the opportunity to thank him. His legacy is felt in so many ways in this city, and it’s appropriate that I and my colleagues proclaim his birthday Dr. T. B. Boyd III Day in Nashville.”

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