Russell J. Boyle

Russell J. Boyle. To say that Russell J. Boyle is a self-made man is to put in a trite way the undeniable fact that his high position in Grand Rapids’ financial life has been gained entirely through his own efforts, for even as a small boy he set his goal high, and possessed of limitless ambition and energy has gained what he set out to acquire. He comes of an old family of Detroit, his grandfather, John D. Boyle, of French descent, settling there and marrying a Miss Henderson. Russell J. Boyle was born in that city, the son of William T. and Nellie (McPherson)
Boyle, and there attended the public schools. Even as a small boy he realized that a college education might be indispensable to him, and at an early age he secured employment in a railroad freight office to earn money with which to go to college. He worked from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day, his monthly wage being $15 per month. His ambition, his energy and his careful attention to duty soon brought him promotion and he was transferred to the uptown ticket office and then to the Michigan Central depot as an employee in the ticket office. Not wishing to be too great a burden on his family, he took want-ad orders for the Detroit Free Press while he was attending high school. The high school publication, "The Student," was at this time heavily in debt, and when Russell Boyle approached the faculty with a proposition whereby he was to receive half the earnings of the paper after the debt was cleared, the faculty members eagerly assented and he was placed in charge of the publication. From this source, he was able to secure a good salary during his school career, for he was soon able to get the paper entirely free from debt. During the vacation months he worked in the ticket offices of the D. & C. Steamship Company. He also earned considerable money selling advertising for the company. He graduated from the Detroit high school in 1908, and as he was about to go to college, sickness in the family swept away his savings accumulated through years of hard work since his boyhood. At the age of eighteen he secured a position with the Detroit Free Press as an advertising solicitor at a salary of $25 a week. Indicative of the strength of character and perseverance of Mr. Boyle, it may be said that in this work it was six months before he took his first order. This first order imbued him with renewed zeal and in the ensuing year he won the newspaper prize of $1,000 for the advertising solicitor getting the largest volume of business. His promotion was rapid, and in 1911, he went to Grand Rapids as advertising manager of the Grand Rapids News. In that position he continued for five years. With the outbreak of the World war he applied for admission to an officers’ training camp, but the lack of a college education caused his rejection. Although he was married at the time, he refused to ask exemption from military duty when he was called in the draft, but he was again rejected. Fred R. Fenton, who was then directing the sale of Liberty bonds in that section of the state, sent for Mr. Boyle to act as his assistant. The work of Mr. Boyle throughout the state of Michigan in organizing and carrying on this important work won his recognition in the eyes of Mr. Fenton as a man of no mean financial and executive ability. The result was that after the close of the war, Mr. Boyle was taken into partnership with Mr. Fenton, forming the company of Fenton, Corrigan & Boyle, investment bankers, which was incorporated in 1919, the same year. The business is an outgrowth of the firms of Corrigan company, which became Howe & Corrigan and later Howe, Snow, Corrigan & Company. With the death of Mr. Corrigan in 1920, the firm name was changed to that of Fenton, Davis and Boyle, Davis taking charge of the Detroit office and Fenton the Chicago office. Mr. Boyle remained in Grand Rapids as the head of the home office. The constantly growing business of the company shows him to be a man of excellent judgment bordering closely on the phenomenal. In financial circles of Grand Rapids, he is regarded as one of the strong characters and ablest executives. The company maintains a fine office on the ground floor of the Grand Rapids National Bank building. Mr. Boyle purchased the interests of his partners F. R. Fenton and W. L. Davis, and on October 1, 1925, became the president of Fenton, Davis & Boyle. Mr. Boyle married Edyth Smith, the daughter of Arthur E. F. Smith, and she has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to her husband.


Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 16 February 2005