Idaho’s notorious Class IV-V North Fork of the Payette struck again this summer, this time on Aug. 14 when Fidelity Investments executive and Liquidlogic lead investor Boyce Greer, 55, died while kayaking Jacob’s Ladder. The drowning death, which happened just after the rock drop on Jacob’s, occurred just a month and a half after the drowing death of 19-year-old pro paddler Stephen Forster of Connecticut, marking the North Fork’s second fatality in two months
The sheriff’s office in Boise County, Idaho, reports that Greer suffered a fatal injury while kayaking on the Payette River in Banks, Idaho. The accident was reported at 12:34 p.m. and happened near milepost 86 on Idaho.
Greer, who lived in Amherst, N.H., was an experienced kayaker and was a key partner in LiquidLogic, part of Legacy Paddlesports, whose brands also include Heritage and Native Watercraft. Several YouTube videos show him sharing his knowledge of kayaking, in particular how to pack for self-support kayak trips on the Grand Canyon, a trip he took annually with Liquidlogic’s Woody Callaway and others. He was referred to by paddlers as everything from the “paddler super banker,” referring to his passion for money management and paddling, to Batman.
The accident occurred around noon and he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement from the Valley County Sheriff’s Office.
“The entire Fidelity family is deeply saddened and will greatly miss him,” says Vincent Loporchio, a spokesman for Boston- based Fidelity. “Boyce was more than just an accomplished business leader. He was an admired and greatly respected manager, colleague and friend.”
Greer, who lived in Amherst, N.H., was a lifelong kayaker and also the initial investor in Liquidlogic. “We paddled together first and became business partners later,” Legacy CEO Bill Medlin told Bloomberg News. “It was great to have an owner who appreciated the sport as deeply. We’re stunned and still trying to come to terms with the news.”
According to Greer’s lifelong friend Greg Hanlon of Lyme, Idaho, the Manchester Union Leader reports that Greer was kayaking with friend Mike Hipsher. While Hipsher decided to portage Jacob’s, Greer opted to continue. “He got a bit of a beating and flipped over, and it didn’t go so well from there,” said Hanlon. “The water can be a lonely place when you are trouble.”
Hanlon added that it isn’t clear if Greer hit his head or drowned, but that Hipsher eventually pulled Greer to shore down river and he was not breathing. He added that Greer had managed this rapid successfully several times prior, and had paddled more difficult water. “Most of us paddle with emotion, fear, excitement and the challenge of it all, but Boyce was not like that,” he said. “He was extremely logical and never excited or scared or nervous. He had an amazing level of self control, and he was not stupid about it.”
According to the Idaho Statesman, Greer had strong ties to Idaho, with his family buying a house in McCall this summer. His family, the story adds, came to Idaho every summer to raft the Salmon River. “Everybody goes on the rafting trip,” Legacy Paddlesports lead designer Shane Benedict, who paddled the North Fork with Greer last summer, told the paper.
He added in the story that Greer apparently got off course and rolled several times. “There are so many holes there,” Benedict said, recounting another onlooker’s description of the accident. “Once he was off course, he was trying to recover. He became exhausted.”
The death has shocked the tight-knit paddling community near the Payette. “It’s really hard to put a finger on, outside of the fact that it is very, very difficult whitewater,” local outfitter and kayak school owner Tom Long told the Statesman. “When you get to that level of whitewater, there is every day a level of unpredictability. That stretch of whitewater has some inherent danger — if it happened on the main Payette, I’d be shocked to have a similar circumstance.”
Greer graduated cum laude from Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1978 with an undergraduate degree in government. He later earned master’s and doctorate degrees in public policy from Harvard University. He was recently promoted to director of institutional investments for Fidelity, the second-largest U.S. mutual-fund company.
Greer leaves behind three daughters and wife. A funeral service, the story added, will likely be planned in Idaho, and Greer had requested that his ashes be spread in a river in Quebec, an area that he frequently paddled.
More info: AW Accident Submission Report