Obituary: Lisa Boyle, 1954-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Lisa Boyle, 1954-2022 

Charlotte woman bravely regained and maintained physical independence following paralyzing accident

Published September 19, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated September 19, 2022 at 2:42 p.m.

click to enlarge Lisa Boyle - COURTESY
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  • Lisa Boyle
Lisa Sheryl Boyle, 67, passed away on her own terms on September 17, 2022, in the presence of family at the McClure Miller Respite House, after a 25-year struggle with the challenges of a spinal cord injury. She was born October 8, 1954, in Newport, R.I. She lived her first 10 years like a nomad, moving through several states while her father established a career in landscape architecture. After he was awarded a Harvard Eliot Traveling Fellowship, from 1961 to 1963, the family traveled throughout Europe — living in a Volkswagen camper — and settled for a time in a small German village. Unsurprisingly, in a short time, eight-year old Lisa had learned to speak German and became the family translator.

The family later settled at Duck Pond Corners in Charlotte, Vt., where Lisa attended Charlotte Central School and cared for her first horse. As a young girl — before she rode a horse — she rode dairy cows at her grandparent's farm in Herkimer, N.Y. Next, the family moved to Burlington, where she played violin with the Vermont Youth Orchestra, studied with Gladys Colburn and graduated a year early from Burlington High School. At the University of Vermont, she earned a degree in clinical microbiology as a stepping stone to a possible career in medicine. While living in the Hollow in North Ferrisburgh in the late '70s and early '80s, she worked at the Charlotte Family Health Center and volunteered her skills as an EMT and crew chief with Charlotte Rescue. Along with her partner, Jim Dickerson, she helped run a successful antique and art auction business, which allowed her to move on and funded her becoming a competitive dressage rider and trainer.

After remarrying in 1988, Lisa opened Wingwalker Farm in Shelburne, a horse boarding facility, where she was resident trainer. In 1996, she sold the farm to focus on competing in the Northeast U.S. and Florida dressage show circuits. All was going well until 1998, when on a sunny August afternoon in North Ferrisburgh, a backfiring silage truck caused the young horse she had just mounted to bolt, trip and roll, leaving her permanently paralyzed from the chest down.

Lisa had a curious and probing intellect, never met a stranger, was an inveterate flirt and could stop the show with her gorgeous smile. She loved cats, corgis, any athletic endeavor, gardening, birding, baking and Red Sox baseball. She never tired of listening to Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Mark Knopfler. The only thing she really didn't like was being cold. Through the many setbacks associated with spinal cord injury, Lisa bravely regained and maintained physical independence and, for many years, continued to teach dressage. However, this past summer intractable medical complications led her to conclude the struggle as she saw fit.

Lisa is survived by her father, Terry Boyle, and his wife, Robin Worn; her mother, Marilyn Wheeler; aunt, Louise Abeling; sister, Martha McHugh, and husband, Tim; brother Matt Boyle and wife, Kerry Bechloff; brother Dan Boyle; nieces, Alex and Kyra McHugh, Sara Boyle, and nephew, Aiden Boyle; also brother-in-law, Stefan Kulski, and sister-in-law, Helena Landis. As she flies west, Lisa also leaves her husband of 35 years, Julian Kulski, for whom the concept of a broken heart is no longer academic. Rest in peace, my sweetheart.

Lisa wished to thank Dr. Halle Sobel and the staff of the University of Vermont Medical Center for years of extraordinary care and Visiting Nurses Association nurse Sierra Gepka. Her family thanks the remarkable McClure Miller Respite House.
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