W. A. (Tony) Boyle, the former United Mine Workers president who was convicted of ordering the murder of a union rival, died today at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. He was 83.
Boyle, who had been in the hospital’s coronary care unit, had been in poor health for most of the last decade.
Boyle was serving three consecutive life terms at the state prison at nearby Dallas for the murders of Joseph (Jock) Yablonski, his wife, Margaret, and daughter Charlotte. The Yablonskis were shot as they slept in their Clarksville home on New Year’s Eve, 1969.
Yablonski had lost to Boyle in a bid for the union presidency and was planning to challenge that loss.
Boyle rose from the coal fields of southeastern Montana to become the 11th president of the union in 1963, the first UMW president from west of the Mississippi. He ruled it with an iron-fisted determination and a fresh rose in his lapel.
Boyle was originally convicted of the three murders in 1974, but the state Supreme Court overturned that verdict in 1977. In his retrial, in 1978, he was convicted again and received three consecutive life terms.
Eight other people, including three Ohio men who accepted the assassination contract for $5,200, either confessed or were convicted of participating in the plot.