James Christopher Boyce


Feb 4, 1943 - Sep 5, 2015

Jim was born in Orange, New Jersey, the second of eleven children of William and Alice Boyce. His father was an electronics pioneer, and ran Boland & Boyce, a technical writers’ job shop. His parents bought and sold houses, moving around a lot, even as the family grew. They spent many years in shore towns where he learned to love the water and boating.

Early teenage years were spent in Mountain Lakes, NJ where he went to High School. He had a tremendous interest in cars during this time, taking them apart, fixing and modifying them. He also worked for a time in a body shop to learn about car finishes. He never liked school work and he left at age at 17 to join the US Coast Guard, where he received his GED.

Serving in New London, Connecticut, he learned the hard way that he couldn't keep up the old high school social life.  His last two years of active duty were served in Woods Hole, MA on the buoy tender White Sage where he thrived in his duties as bosun mate - and fell in love with Woods Hole and its surrounding waters.

After discharge he married, and lived for two years in New York and New Jersey while he first worked as a salesman for Boland & Boyce, which didn't suit him. He loved working with his hands, and playing the guitar, so he took a job with the Guild guitar factory in Hoboken, then met some guitar makers and repairmen in New York City and started to build guitars.

In 1967 he moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts with his wife and infant son, and worked on research vessels, and for dock builders, carpenters, and housebuilders.  He built a shop and went into business repairing and building cabinets, furniture, instruments, and flagpoles; and sold mail order guitar strings.

After his family grew to four children he went back to sea.  He worked as a tug deckhand, mate, and then captain before going into the tugboat business in 1983. He ran the tugboat business for 15 years, buying three more tugs and rebuilding his house and shop. He retired back into his shop, doing instrument repairs and building wood flagpoles and small skiffs until his death.

He always had boats of one kind or another all his years on Cape Cod -. his flat-bottom sharpie, his catboats, his knockabout - and especially his houseboat in Woods Hole

He had been in several bands since age 12 as guitar player and singer. When he was 35 fell in love with fiddle music and learned to play fiddle and mandolin. He was a founding member of the Woods Hole Folk Music Society, hosted a local TV show called Fiddlin’ in Falmouth, and started the Falmouth Fiddlers Association, an open band, playing all kinds of music. He liked promoting local music and musicians, and taught learning fiddle by ear at the local night school. He loved learning, and he loved teaching.

He built and repaired quite a few different kinds of instruments - and thoroughly enjoyed playing his own guitars, fiddles, and mandolins.



Falmouth Fiddlers Association