Tribute to Boyd Mathesonby Senator Mike Lee
Posted on 2015-12-15
LEE. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute, bid farewell,
and, coincidentally, to wish a 1-day belated birthday to a truly
extraordinary gentleman from Cedar Hills, UT, who is a dear friend, a
trusted partner, and one of the finest human beings I have ever known.
For nearly 4 years, Boyd Matheson has served my Senate staff ably and
honorably, first as State director and then for the last 3 years as
chief of staff. He has served with special distinction on Team Lee, so
much so that as far as my staff and I are concerned, we are all on Team
Boyd. I can say with confidence and a great deal of gratitude that
without Boyd Matheson I would not be here today.
I first met Boyd about 12 years ago when he and his wife Debbie and their five children moved into my neighborhood. They had just returned to Utah after spending more than a decade outside the State and in places as far away as Australia while Boyd was building his successful consulting business. I could tell right away that Boyd felt at home in Utah, as well he should. After all, the State was settled by Boyd's ancestors, who came to Utah in the 1850s in search of a place where they could worship, believe, and live as they saw fit without fear of persecution.
While Boyd's ancestors helped settle the State in the 19th century, his parents, who raised an impressive 11 children, helped populate our State in the 20th century. I soon got to know Boyd, who was active in many of the same ecclesiastical and political causes in which I was involved, and I was immediately struck by his masterful command of the English language. Boyd wasn't given to excessive speech, but when he spoke people listened. I noticed that everything Boyd said was at once profound, disarming, inviting, persuasive, and informative--a rare combination. Not much has changed since then. To this day, listening to Boyd speak is an uplifting experience for all who are fortunate enough to be present.
Although it would be several more years before I got to know Boyd very well, I quickly identified him as someone whose opinion mattered to me and to others and whose skills as a communicator I deeply admired. Whenever anyone I knew was in need of advice on how to communicate an important message, I referred them to Boyd, assuring them with great confidence that this was a man who had an uncanny ability not only to say the right things but also to say them in just the right way.
For that very reason, when I began considering running for the Senate, Boyd was one of the very first people I called. As one who had never previously sought or held public office, I knew that the odds were highly stacked against me, to put it mildly. With an instinctive trust in his judgment, I understood that I would need Boyd's help in order to have any plausible chance of winning.
I still remember the first of what would be countless conversations that would take place over the next few months. I was on my way home from work late one evening when I placed the call. I wasn't sure whether he would tell me I was out of my mind or whether he would provide encouragement, nor was I even sure which answer I would prefer. Nevertheless, I knew, regardless of his response, that I should listen carefully to his assessment of my ideas.
To his credit, and consistent with his thoughtful, careful approach, he didn't give me a definitive answer immediately. Instead, he asked for time to think about it, suggesting that we continue to visit periodically over the next few months, and this we did. In due time, we both came to the same conclusion.
When I entered my Senate race in 2010, I asked Boyd to serve as my communications director. I knew that his distinctive vision for the future, his commitment to positive reform, and his unparalleled gifts for communication would provide my campaign with the direction, clarity of purpose, and optimism it would need to have any chance of success.
I was right. Boyd was the perfect man for the job. He proved to be indispensable to the campaign, quickly earning an appropriate and very descriptive nickname. We often referred to him not simply as Boyd but by his longer and appropriate nickname, which was ``Boyd to the rescue.'' You see, just weeks into the campaign my wife Sharon christened him ``Boyd to the rescue'' because she noticed that he could solve just about any problem, that his calming reassurance had a positive effect on everyone around him, and that somehow things just went more smoothly when he was around.
With Boyd's help I was elected in November 2010. Then, when it was all over and I made plans to transition to Washington, I invited him to join my Senate staff. While disappointed, I was not surprised that he opted to remain in Utah, returning to his career as a businessman and a consultant, a career which I had rather rudely interrupted a year earlier.
You see, Boyd is not your typical chief of staff. Indeed, he is very unlike most of the people you will find in this town--or in any town, for that matter--in the best and most admirable ways imaginable, Boyd didn't ascend to his post by working his way up Washington's political pecking order, biding his time until it was his turn. No, he spent the bulk of his career--which, I would add, is just still getting started-- outside of politics, starting and running his own businesses to serve others and to create true value in society, and he began doing this at a very early age. In high school, Boyd ran sports camps where he taught kids in his community the fundamentals of how to succeed on the field, on the court, and in life. This has been the Boyd Matheson business model ever since he was in high school and started his first business-- inspiring, teaching, and helping those around him to succeed, though his target audience has changed over time from youth athletes to business executives, foreign dignitaries, long-shot political candidates, and eventually, thankfully, this Senator from Utah.
Boyd agreed to join my campaign not because he had any political aspirations or ambitions of his own; he just wanted to make a difference. He knew that our country was headed down the wrong track and that his fellow Utahns and Americans in every State were facing challenging times ahead. He wanted to help however he could, but it wasn't until he had spent a year crisscrossing the State and the country with my campaign that Boyd realized the magnitude of the economic and social challenges facing the United States. He met countless families and hardworking Americans anxious about their country's future and struggling just to keep up. He visited far too many isolated, forgotten communities that were stuck in poverty with few opportunities and even fewer reasons for hope. And he got a glimpse into the political dysfunction plaguing and, at the same time, perversely enriching Washington, DC.
By the end of the campaign, I could tell that Boyd knew the road to economic recovery and social revival in America would be long and arduous, but I also knew he cared enough about his family, his community, his State, and his country that he would do just about anything to be part of the solution. So when Boyd decided not to pursue a job on Capitol Hill after the campaign, deep down I knew that, God willing, he would be back.
Thankfully, God was willing and so was Boyd. If my first year in the Senate taught me anything, it was that I needed Boyd Matheson's help to survive in Washington. So on December 5, 2011, as my first year in office was coming to a close, I decided to call him and ask him to take a job as my State director. Here again, I wasn't sure what his answer would be, but I knew I needed to ask. It was an offer I hoped he might accept. Not only had I given him ample time to forget about all the late [[Page S8654]] nights and early mornings of the campaign, but the job I was offering him would allow him to stay in Utah most of the time, at least for the time being.
In the end, it was providence that sealed the deal. When I called Boyd to offer him the job, I was at the airport in Salt Lake City traveling back to Washington after a weekend at home with my family. After a few minutes of small talk and catching up on the phone, Boyd asked me where I was at the moment. I told him I was at the airport.
``Me too,'' he said, adding that he was on his way to Bangkok. ``Which airport?'' ``Salt Lake City,'' I replied.
``Me too,'' said Boyd. ``Which concourse,'' he asked.
``D,'' I said.
``Me too,'' Boyd repeated again. ``Which gate,'' Boyd asked, as we both started looking around the crowded terminal.
Before I could respond, we had both spotted each other sitting with only a few chairs between us in the waiting area adjacent to gate 6.
We continued the conversation in gate D-6 in person and then via text message once we boarded our respective flights--mine to Washington and Boyd's to Thailand. Eventually he accepted the offer, convinced that our chance encounter in the airport that day was, as his wife Debbie would later put it, an ``inspired connection.'' It was inspired, indeed, but the connection was not just between Boyd and me; it was a connection between a man and his moment, between Boyd and the countless people whose lives have been forever changed because of his faithful service over the last 4 years. And no one has been more blessed than I have.
Boyd has been my constant ally, spiritual coach, advocate, speaking surrogate, and friend. In addition to his many skills and attributes, so many of which are well-known to anyone who has interacted with my office, Boyd possesses a deep and genuine concern for others. Coupled with his freakishly intuitive sixth sense, this makes Boyd the consummate friend and indispensable teammate.
For reasons I don't entirely understand but appreciate more than he can possibly know, Boyd has the extraordinary ability to know when, where, and how he is most needed long before anyone else does, long before the person who needs him knows.
Years ago I lost track of how many times Boyd had sensed that I was worried about something and then he immediately called or texted-- invariably with exactly the right words that addressed my concerns.
This, of course, is not part of the chief of staff job description in my office; it is just what Boyd does, not only for me but for everyone he knows. I can't count the number of times he has stepped in to help me, my family, and my staff in moments of need without having been asked and often at great personal sacrifice.
Considering how hard he works to help others, many of us who know and work with him often ask: Does this man ever sleep? This, in turn, has sparked a number of half-joking suggestions among my staff that Boyd Matheson is actually a vampire, one who survives on Diet Coke rather than blood and rarely, if ever, sleeps. When we ask him whether he will ever take the rest that he needs and most certainly deserves, he relies on a well-worn response, saying, ``I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.'' The literary world recognizes these as the words of Robert Frost, but my family, my staff, and I will always attribute them to Boyd. By word and by deed, he made these words his anthem.
Needless to say, Boyd has kept his promises and has more than earned his right to sleep. Yet, somehow, knowing Boyd as I do, I doubt he will hold still for long. Boyd Matheson at his core is a passionate reformer. He is exactly the kind of reformer with exactly the kind of courage and convictions that are so badly needed but too often in short supply here in Washington.
Boyd is, in the words of essayist William George Jordan, one of the reformers of the world: . . . its men of mighty purpose. They are men with courage of individual convictions, men who dare run counter to the criticism of inferiors, men who voluntarily bear crosses for what they accept as right, even without the guarantee of a crown. They are men who gladly go down into the depths of silence, darkness, and oblivion, but only to emerge finally like divers--with pearls in their hands.
Ask Boyd what pearls he has found in Washington and he will tell you, without pause or hesitation, ``the people.'' It is the people he will miss the most, which is exactly the kind of answer you would expect from Boyd--a man who genuinely cares about people. No matter who you are or how your path happened to cross with his, Boyd listens to and learns from you, he inspires and teaches you, and he always sees the best in everyone, challenging each of us to do the same.
I am most fortunate to know Boyd Matheson and to call him my friend. I am most thankful for his sacrifice and that of his wife Debbie and their five children, who have seen on so many occasions the sacrifice of this great man in the service to me, to my staff, and to others. The people of Washington, DC, are going to miss Boyd Matheson, and the people of the great State of Utah will be lucky to have him back.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.