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Cleaburn Franklin Boyd of Exeter turns 90

Cleaburn Franklin Boyd of Exeter turns 90

Boyd made a career of fixing tractors despite the loss of his arm in an accident


EXETER – Cleaburn Franklin Boyd (pictured center), turned 90 on Tuesday and is among Exeter’s oldest and longest-lived residents. He made a career of fixing International tractors for Exeter Mercantile, starting in the late 1940s. Despite losing an arm in a boating accident, he continued turning wrenches, excelling to the point that he was flown throughout the west for special projects, fixing equipment as far away as Washington, Oregon and Arizona.

“I had a good job and I stayed with it,” Cleaburn said. “I didn’t chase all around to find better places.” As to why he’s stayed in Exeter, Cleaburn said “It’s as good a town as I could ever get ahold of.” He and wife Betty Lou raised two children in town, son Tommy and daughter Susan. He raised them in Exeter, he said, because “I would say it was one of the best places there was.”

Despite retiring in 1995, Cleaburn occasionally helped out at the Mercantile for years after, doing odd jobs. He eats Thanksgiving dinner every year with one of the Mercantile’s owners, Bob Schilling, for whom Cleaburn was once a babysitter, the start of a life-long friendship in a town Cleaburn has called home for more than 70 years.

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