Bellevue’s Esther Irene Peterson Boyd will celebrate her 100th birthday Saturday, joining an exclusive club of about 70,000 centenarians in the U.S.

“Esther’s family roots run deep in Blaine County,” said Teri Niedrich, 65, one of Boyd’s five children. “She is a true lover of life and a joyous and giving person.”

Niedrich said it would “take a minute” to figure out how many of her mother’s 16 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild are living in the Wood River Valley today.

“I only know that she is grateful to have so many of us living nearby,” Niedrich said.

Boyd was born on May 18, 1920, at her home in Carey. She was the third daughter of Pauline and Rubin Peterson. Her grandfather and grandmother, John J. Peterson and Marie Jensen, settled in Carey around 1904. They traveled there by horse team and wagon, bringing equipment with them that they would use to open the town’s first sawmill at Iron Mine on Fish Creek.

Niedrich said her mother told stories of her dad’s old car, a Durant, that was used as a school bus for all the kids near their ranch who needed a ride to the one-room schoolhouse. She said her mother recalled herding turkeys on the ranch and riding their old “kid horse” named Chief that was blind in one eye.

In her youth she saw Indians who came through town on horseback on their way to Utah. Carey had one grocery store, a post office and a school.

Boyd’s family moved to Acequia, Idaho, in Minidoka County to farm, where Esther played baseball, which was the love of her life. A few years later, the family moved to Jerome, where she lettered in basketball. In her senior year, she met Johnnie Boyd, whose sister Pauline was Esther’s friend.

The couple eloped on April 22, 1939, and were married along with Pauline and her fiancé, Jim Chesnutt, at a double wedding in Elko, Nev.

“My mother lived through some hard times, ranching and hauling water from a well,” Niedrich said. “One day a cougar built a den under her house. They only really settled down when they moved to Twin Falls in 1946, where Johnnie “Slick” Boyd sold cars for 20 years.”

Boyd and her husband also lived in Washington state, returning to Idaho shortly after Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980. When Johnnie Boyd died of a heart attack in 1983, Esther returned to Washington, eventually coming back to the Wood River Valley to help out with her grandchildren.

Esther Boyd has been an active church member wherever she has lived, helped found a food bank and served as caregiver and companion for several senior citizens in the Wood River Valley. In 2009, she was nominated to the Heritage Court of Blaine County along with several of her peers. She enjoys travel and has recently been to Alaska and Hawaii.

“She really is an inspiration for all of us,” Niedrich said. “Esther will not receive all of the hugs she was so looking forward to at her big party, which the family has been planning for years. However, nothing will stop her family and friends from celebrating her amazing life.”

The extended family and wide circle of Boyd’s friends are planning a drive-by birthday parade at 12:30 p.m. Saturday by gathering first on Kirtley Street in Chantrelle subdivision in Bellevue—just look for the balloons.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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