Coach John William Boshard

Coach Bosh, Centennial High School, Pueblo, CO
Coach John W. Boshard, Pueblo, Colorado

Brigham Young High School
Class of 1966

John Boshard ~
Philosopher & Tennis Bum

by Larry Christensen, Class of 1966
The year is 1961, before the advent of the psychedelic 1960s. I am a fourteen-year-old boy. I escaped from a meat-grinder public school system in Springville, Utah, because my mother had a childhood friend named Idell Thurston. She was the Registrar at Brigham Young University High School in Provo. This was a private school started in 1876. It was housed on the one-square-block campus where Brigham Young Academy made its home in 1892.

My family and I had just moved from Richfield, Utah, to Springville, and I didn't know anyone in Springville or Provo. I put in an application to BY High, but was turned down, so I enrolled at Springville Junior High School, just a few blocks from our Brookside home.

SJHS had thousands of students. We ate lunch in 20-minute shifts, which meant that after standing in line for food, nobody had time to eat it. I tried to go home for lunch a few times, but could never get back in time. The school library closed its doors exactly when the last bell rang, which meant you had to get out of one of your classes during the day if you wanted to use the library -- I never managed to see the inside of the library.

My assigned locker mate kept loaded firearms and bottles of whiskey in the locker. After one glance, I never used the locker again, and avoided the guy whenever I saw him. Classes were large and noisy, and I often walked into a class where I found the teacher taking up homework that I was not even aware had been assigned, because of the noise. I felt like I was living a Franz Kafka story.

About two weeks into the 1961-62 school year, I felt I was beginning to drown in the Springville public school system. Then one evening my mother received a telephone call from Idell Thurston. She said someone who had enrolled at BY High during the summer had not shown up for classes, so there was an opening. I jumped at the chance. My mother worked every day in Provo, so I rode to school and back with her for most of five years.

The first thing that struck me about BY High was the age of the main building. It had "1891" cast in cement above its front door. It was a four-story brick castle, showing its age but deeply loved by the students who had been there for more than a couple of years. Sometimes we theorized that the thick ivy was supporting its walls. The several old buildings on the campus provided dignity and gave us a sense that we were in a unique place. Each class had about thirty boys and thirty girls.

John William Boshard - Brigham Young High School
John W. Boshard

John Boshard was one of the first people I met at BY High. He was known to his friends as "Teense" -- short for "Teensy". The story was that his older brother Nick gave him the nickname when John was a newborn baby, saying, "He's just teensy!"

John and his friends took me on as a project, explained the school culture to me bit by bit, day by day, and shared with me the survival skills they had practiced for many years at this unique school.
John's face was like warm rubber. In fact, he jokingly called himself "The Man With A Thousand Faces". My favorite was "The Man Who Knows Everything" and it is impossible to fully describe it because it involves rolling the head around on the neck, exhibiting every facet of an all-knowing smile. The only reason I dare mention it, is because I found him mugging for the camera in a yearbook basketball photo, and I can show you the picture!

Boshard was never the rude, loud class clown. You might say, instead, that he was the jester of the people -- a comedic genius with a fine sense of diplomacy and timing. He was always the first to find a reason to admire someone, the first to crack a smile in the face of adversity, and the first to understand and forgive you when you snapped.
John W. Boshard, The Man Who Knows Everything
If you sat more than five chairs away from him, you probably missed his best stuff. He performed for a small private audience.

And like the ancient court jester, he achieved a serious impact. He seized even the slightest spark of prejudice and snuffed it out with a wry comment and a laugh. He deflated overblown egos in a kind and gentle way. He understood when you didn't have enough money for something. He understood his classmates who suffered from overdrawn ambition, because he had a gentle obsession himself: Tennis. "You have to understand how the thinking goes," he told me one day. "If there is the slightest chance that you might become the best person in the world at some one thing, then you have to go all out for it."
For John, basketball was fun because he was a natural athlete and good at it, but tennis was his life. His life had revolved around tennis for so long that his right arm was several inches larger in circumference than his left one. Somebody once told me that other kids' parents paid John to give tennis lessons to their offspring in the summers, from the time he was in elementary school.
John Boshard, 1963, tennis, Provo, Utah
John Boshard, 1963
John W. Boshard, Brigham Young High School tennis
Top tennis player in city of Provo

But he never put tennis before friendship. Tennis was an integral part of who he was, but many of his friends, including me, didn't play tennis, and he never pushed it. The only thing he couldn't stand was fanaticism, and that included tennis fanatics.

John W. Boshard, photo andKarl Thomas caricature
Boshard & caricature by Karl Thomas 1965
Most BY High students were growing up in one of the two largest Mormon communities of Utah Valley -- Provo and Orem. John said this was the best place in the world for a little kid to grow up. There were playgrounds and tennis courts everywhere, and every church had an indoor basketball court. He often joked that he and some of his friends came to church just so they could play church basketball in the winter. There were many golf courses, little league baseball parks, swimming pools, ski slopes, rivers, places in the mountains to go camping -- endless recreation.

John W. Boshard, elementary years, late 1950s
BYU Lab School Lifer

Boshard was a lifer at Brigham Young High School, having started in the BYU Training School in kindergarten, and he cheerfully sat (and slept) through hundreds of hours of Seminary instruction. John believed in God, it was clear, but I remember him explaining cheerfully that he believed in the same God that Lincoln did -- a God who superseded organized religion.

After graduation, most of his BY High friends went off on two-year church missions in Asia, South America, Europe, or other parts of the US. I was no exception, being assigned to the island of Taiwan where I learned the basics of speaking Mandarin Chinese.

I received one letter from John while on my mission in Taiwan. He wrote that he was glad I went, and wished me success. Then he reported to me how BYU President Ernest Wilkinson had recruited undercover agents to spy on teachers and students, how he was forcing faculty members to pay tithing whether they were Church members or not, and worst of all, how Wilkinson had announced the closing of the 92-year-old Brigham Young High School at the end of the 1967-1968 school year, ostensibly for financial reasons. He described Wilkinson as a fanatic. John said he was considering leaving Utah Valley because the magic was gone. However, I believe he went on to study at BYU until 1970 -- proving that he was not a fanatic himself, not even about fanatics, and that he had a built-in ability to get along even under adverse circumstances. John ultimately graduated with a degree in History at Southern Colorado State College in Pueblo.

“Moderation in all things,” said Terence (185 B.C. to 159 B.C.), an ancient Roman comic dramatist, in his first comedy, Andria (The Woman of Andros). Terence said it, but John Boshard lived it, even if you add the required, “Moderation in all things, including moderation!”

When I came home from Taiwan, I took some BYU classes, then got pulled into the military by the enormous manpower requirements of the Vietnam War. I escaped from the Army a few years later. I had my life and a wife I had happily met while stationed at Ft. Benning in Georgia. We returned to Utah Valley, where I finished up at BYU. We enjoyed the addition of our infant son, Andrew, to our family.

From the time of my high school graduation to my college graduation, eight years had passed. During those years I learned that John had moved to Colorado, but assumed that I would meet up with him soon.

I had developed the desire to become a lawyer, and I was delighted when I was accepted for admission to the University of Georgia Law School. We left for Athens, Georgia in a large U-Haul van. We lived in Athens for two years. I worked in the UGA fundraising office on the side, and I completely lost my desire to become a lawyer halfway through law school. We moved to Augusta, Georgia, where I worked for eight years as a development officer for the Medical College of Georgia. During those Georgia years we added another handsome son, Alexander, and two beautiful daughters, Emily and Elisabeth, to our family.

I found a job as Director of Development at Utah State University in Logan, and it was U-Haul time again. We lived and worked in Logan for several years. Then I was recruited to head up a faltering fundraising program at Idaho State University, about 90 miles up the road in Pocatello, Idaho. I managed to turn the program around with the help of some excellent staff members. Then in 1991 we escaped from snow country when I found a job at National University in San Diego, California. During the past several decades I have worked for different non-profit organizations in the San Diego region, where I and most of my family have lived to the present time -- 2014.

Not once in all that that time have I ever seen John Boshard again, although at times I tried to write or call or see him at a class reunion, which he didn't attend.

Just recently I decided to see if I could find John again. I have enjoyed many good friends over the years, but I have always considered him to be my best friend. And I haven't seen him in forty-eight years!

John is not the only friend I have neglected. Now when I try to contact some of my other BY High friends -- Frank Maas, Larry Denham, Leo Beckwith, Ralph McKnight, John Gardner, Jim Petty, Neil Riddle, Roger Sheffield, Phil Thomas, Reed Smoot, Jesse Anderson, Chris Laycock, Sherm Smith and many others -- so much time and so many unshared experiences have occurred, that we are sometimes barely able to carry on a conversation.

My best hope with John is that we never had any problem carrying on a conversation. I'd like to think that we could pick up right where we left off 48 years ago. I'd guess we might still be interested in many of the same things.

One of the main things I liked about John, though I didn't understand it at the time, was that he was a philosopher. When we talked about anything, he often threw in some insightful observations about who we were, and who we could be. Although many of our discussions were simply about the latest car designs, some of our discussions went very deep.

John and I played a lot of off-hours basketball during our high school years. One day he made the observation that I preferred to take long shots, even mid-court shots, rather than move under the basket for a closer shot, but where there was a lot of pushing and shoving. "You're the kind of guy who would rather make a miracle shot than an easy lay-up," he said with a smile. That insight still describes me today, and it is sometimes a strength, but usually a weakness.

If you had asked me to describe myself during those BY High years, I would have told you I had a very competitive personality. But one day John said he would describe me as "an easygoing guy" and I took that as a compliment. In the search for who I was, I relaxed and began to enjoy life from that point on.

John was an easygoing guy himself in most things, but when it came to sports he was very competitive. However, after even the most intense games he could smile and laugh, reverting to his easygoing style immediately. This ability to relax and get along enhanced his ability to play, and made him popular even with his fiercest athletic competitors.

John possessed all of the best qualities of an unforgetable friend. He was talented, big-hearted, wise, with a world-class sense of humor. I'm sure he is a wonderful coach, and coaching is a perfect role for him.

In Memoriam

Pueblo, Colorado
City of Pueblo, Colorado

John William Boshard, longtime resident of Pueblo, Colorado, quietly passed away on March 24, 2015, at his home from natural causes. He was 10 days from his 67th birthday and had been a resident of Pueblo since 1970.

John graduated from Brigham Young University High School in the Class of 1966. After attending BYU for several years, he moved to Pueblo, Colorado.

John left his childhood home of Provo, Utah, to accept a tennis scholarship with Southern Colorado State College where he raised himself to second and first singles positions on that tennis team in the late 1960s.

He graduated from that college with a B.A. degree in history. He successfully coached high school tennis teams for many years with the public school system in Pueblo. Boshard coached boys and girls tennis at Centennial High School and was an instructor throughout Pueblo for nearly four decades.

During his many years in this community, John coached and nurtured a number of state and nationally ranked tennis players and was recognized by those who knew him as a tennis sage and one of the best teaching professionals in Colorado.

He lived a quiet and unassuming life, caring for many stray animals and was always an advocate for those down on their luck.

He was a voracious reader of science fiction and sports novels. His love of classic movies made him an “armchair film historian” along with his brother, Nick Boshard.

However, his love of tennis trumped all of his other interests. He once told his best friend in high school, “If there is the slightest chance in the world that you might become the best person in the world at some one thing (tennis), then you have to go all out for it.”

Norm Vail, the boys and girls tennis coach at South High and instructor at the Pueblo Tennis Club, was one of Boshard’s close friends.

“John did not have a mean or aggressive bone in his body,” Vail said. “He was very well liked by everyone. He will be sorely missed here at the tennis club and around the tennis community.”

John is survived by his mother, Cleone; brother, Nick and his wife, Barbara; niece, Nicole and her husband, Mark; nephew, Sean, all from or living in Hartsburg, Missouri; and his best friend, Eddie Francis, who was like another brother to John.

Memorial service, 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2015, at the City Park tennis courts. Memorials may be made to the Pueblo Tennis Club through the Montgomery & Steward funeral home.

John William Boshard will be missed by all of those who loved this kind mystic with a big heart and a good word for all. [Pueblo Chieftain Newspaper: March 29, 2015]

Coach Bosh, Centennial High School, Pueblo, CO
Coach Bosh, Pueblo, Colorado

Boshard Memorial

BYH Biographies