Prominent doctor, alderman passes away unexpectedly
Published 7:17 pm Monday, March 14, 2016
BELHAVEN — One of Belhaven’s most well known figures, Dr. Charles Otis Boyette, 81, passed away unexpectedly Sunday night.
Lauded by many, Boyette was the former mayor of Belhaven for a non-consecutive total of 30 years and was most recently elected as a member of the Board of Aldermen in the November 2015 elections.
He was also a longtime physician, receiving his degree from the UNC School of Medicine, and opening a practice in 1964 at the corner of Water and Haslin streets. Boyette served as chief of staff at the former Pungo District Hospital, as the medical director of Cross Creek Healthcare Center and as an advisor to Hyde County medical groups. He was the recipient of the Harris Memorial Award, given by the Carolinas Center of Medical Excellence, in 2002.
Before opening his practice in Belhaven, Boyette also worked as an intern for the U.S. Navy and worked as a flight surgeon for the Marine Corps Air Station in Jacksonville. A seasoned doctor, Boyette made a point to always put the people of Belhaven first, according to Mayor Adam O’Neal.
“He was an icon in the Belhaven and Hyde County area, and was not only an icon here, but across the state in the world of health care,” O’Neal said. “I can remember going to the legislative building in Raleigh and not realizing how many people knew him by name.”
Boyette was a member of many organizations during his medical tenure, including: American Academy of Family Physicians, N.C. Medical Directors Association, N.C. Academy of Family Physicians, N.C. Medical Society and American Medical Association. He was also the former vice chair of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, and the chair of the Belhaven Democratic Precinct.
In a 1988 article for CIRCA NCEast, a publication of Beaufort County Community College, he was described as “the epitome of the classic American success story,” and “a small-town boy who by his determination and hard work achieved his aspirations.”
Over the course of his career, Boyette served as an advocate for health care in Belhaven and all of eastern North Carolina, standing up against systems he felt were inadequate. Most recently, he became a strong supporter of the fight to reopen Belhaven’s hospital and spoke often of the town’s need for emergency room care.
O’Neal said he and Boyette were not always on friendly terms, especially due to political brawling during the 2005 Belhaven mayor’s race. Boyette ran against O’Neal a total of three times before the two made amends.
“It’s really quite a story how Dr. Boyette and I were bitter political rivals,” O’Neal said. “He put the people, the people’s interest, above his own many times. The latest exhibit of that is the struggle to save our hospital. … We got together and agreed we needed to work together.”
He said he thinks Boyette would want the efforts to reopen the hospital to continue as planned. Plans for a press conference and Board of Aldermen meeting Wednesday will go on as planned, according to O’Neal.
“He will be sorely missed, and we will continue the path to save our hospital in memory of him,” O’Neal said. “I am quite certain now we have a guardian angel who will be helping our efforts.”
A funeral service honoring Boyette’s life will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at the John A. Wilkinson Center in Belhaven.