Willis Thomas Boyarsky
June 8, 1919-June 24, 2014
Willis (Bill) Thomas Boyarsky passed away peacefully on June 24th in Arroyo Grande, California. He had celebrated his 95th birthday two weeks earlier with his wife, Dottie, and three children.
Bill, or Willie T, as he was affectionately known to his old friends, was born June 8, 1919, in San Francisco. He grew up and completed high school in San Jose. Sports were important to Bill and allowed him to attend College of the Pacific (COP) on a football scholarship. The legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg was Bill's coarch at COP. Mr. Stagg, as Bill reverently referred to him, set a model of integrity and humility that was adopted by his players, especially the young Willie T. Bill distinguished himself at COP on the football field and in the classroom. He is a member of the Pacific Football Hall of Fame and was recognized by Notre Dame on their All-Opponent Team. The Washington Redskins drafted Bill, but service to his country in World War II came first. He was a Captain in the U. S. Marine Corp and was wounded during the invasion of Okinawa which ended his military service and football career. He was awarded The Purple Heart and given an honorable discharge from the Marines in 1945.
During his recuperation, Bill was introduced to the love of his life, Dorothy Adams, as the "greatest guy to graduate from Pacific." Bill and Dottie married at College of the Pacific Chapel on March 30, 1947. As newlyweds, they lived in Stockton and Bill taught at Galt High School. During this time Bill atteneded Stanford University, earning a Master's degree in school administration. His allegiance to Stanford set off a good-hearted rivalry with many friends who were Cal Bears fans. The Stanford teams and Bill usually prevailed, but he could not overcome the ridicule of his college mascot being a tree.
In 1949, Bill and Dottie moved to Patterson where Bill took a position as 5th grade teacher and principal at Wesley Grammar School. This began a career of school administration in Patterson and Turlock schools. Bill served many years as principal of Las Palmas Elementary in Patterson. He was known as a fair, honest, compassionate, and greatly admired. Bill continued to serve Patterson schools as Assistant Superintendent and then Superintendent of the district. In 1969 Bill and Dottie moved to Turlock where he served as Assistant Superintendent of Turlock Schools until his retirement in 1983.
Both Bill and Dottie were very involved in community activities in Patterson and Turlock. Being actively involed parents entailed youth sports, scouting, leadership, social organizations, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, American Field Service, and members of the Federated and Methodist churches.
Bill and Dottie travelled extensively throughout their retirement years with their fearless travel companions, Doris and Lodie Harrison of Patterson. The foursome explored the world and had tall tales and laughter to share. From rafting rivers in Alaska to going behind the Iron Curtain, they travelled throughout the United State and to over 30 countries. One memorable trip took them around the world in 60 days.
Most importantly, Bill was a loving and devoted husband and father. His famiy meant the world to him and he always had a smile on his face when he held a child or grandchild in his lap. He was affectionately known as "Papa" by his ten grandchildren. Many nephews and nieces recall his charming stories, fanciful tales, and playful teasing. He had a laugh and a twinkle in his eye which made him everyone's favorite.
Bill always showed an interest in other people and continually asked questions and listened to their stories. He always made people feel welcome in his home with a bowl of popcorn and a smile. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dottie, their three children, Steve (Mary) of Medford, Oregon; Mike (Tracy) of Modesto; and Jill Cooper (Mike) of Arroyo Grande. He also has 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate scholarship donations for Turlock or Patterson graduates. Contributions may be mailed to either of the scholarships below:
Turlock Rotary Club ,Boyarsky Family Scholarship, P.O. Box 1713, Turlock, CA 95381-1713
PRIDE, Boyarsky Family Scholarship, P.O. Box 1543, Patterson, CA 95363
A celebration of Bill's life will be held at 1:00 PM Saturday August 9, 2014, at First United Methodist Church of Turlock (1660 Arbor Way).
Published in the Modesto Bee on July 13, 2014