Harry Bovay Jr.
Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Directors
1010 Bering Drive
Houston, TX
age 96, president of Mid-South Telecommunications Company, Inc., passed away on Tuesday, the 24th of May 2011.
Harry was born on the 4th of September 1914, in Big Rapids, Michigan, the second of four children to the late Harry Elmo Bovay and Addibelle Bentley Bovay. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Sue Goldston Bovay; his son, Mark Bovay; and his daughter, Susan Bovay Baker; his brother, George Bovay; and his sisters, Elizabeth Bovay Elliott and Jeanne Bovay Larkin. His earliest years were spent in Stuttgart, Arkansas but his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee when he was thirteen. He entered Cornell University in 1932 and graduated in 1936 as a civil engineer.
Following his graduation he worked a short time for a contractor and then the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in Mississippi. He spent the next ten years with Humble Oil and Refining Company in Baytown, Texas. In 1946 Harry formed his own professional engineering firm, H. E. Bovay, Jr., Consulting Engineers, which was incorporated and the name changed to Bovay Engineers, Inc. in July, 1962. Harry Bovay served as president of the firm until his retirement in 1984. For nearly 40 years his firm designed projects in the United States as well as 27 foreign countries ranging from airports to power plants to oil refineries to chemical plants to manufacturing facilities, to city planning, including a good many efforts in the planning and design of facilities at Camp Strake, at El Rancho Cima and at Camp Hudson.
His profession has honored him with election to the National Academy of Engineering and the National Engineering Honor Society, Tau Beta Pi. He not only was elected president of the local chapter, the State of Texas and the National Society of Professional Engineers, but was also given their award as the Outstanding Engineer in all three organizations. He was also a life member of both the American Society for Civil Engineers and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, Inc.
He was awarded the prestigious Toulmin Medal by the Society of American Military Engineers and the Newcomen Society of North America honored Bovay Engineers, Inc. and Harry E. Bovay, Jr. at a dinner in 1981. He was a recipient of the George Washington Distinguished Service Award presented by the Paul Carrington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1998. Harry was also a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation in 2006. Upon retirement from Bovay Engineers, Harry formed the Mid-South Telecommunica-tions Company, a holding company for rural telephone, cablevision and ancillary service companies, and until a few months ago, still worked at the office a number of hours each day.
He contributed to local civic efforts with the Kiwanis Club of Houston, the Houston Engineering & Scientific Society, the Houston Chamber of Commerce, and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Retina Research Foundation.
In 1991, Harry formed the Harry E. Bovay, Jr. Foundation, which focuses on education and community development in rural areas; college scholarships in rural communities to help high school seniors who have taken a leadership role in community service, educators' grants to teachers from these same areas, enabling them to pursue advanced education degrees and improvements in parks and community centers.
In 1997 he and his wife, Sue, now deceased, funded The Bovay Endowed Chair for the History and Ethics of Professional Engineering at both Texas A&M and Cornell Universities to promote the teaching of engineering ethics. In 2002 he made a gift to the Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism at Texas Tech University in its effort to produce a film, ""Incident at Morales,"" depicting a young engineer struggling with critical ethical issues. In 2007 Harry established an Engineering Ethics Endowment at the NAE to provide support for the Center for Engineering, Ethics and Society and especially for the NAE's Online Ethics Center; and a second Endowed Chair for the History and Ethics of Professional Engineering at Texas A&M University.
Beyond engineering ethics efforts, Harry's career with the Boy Scouts has paralleled his career in engineering. He has been involved with Scouting for 84 years, having volunteered at every level from troop leader to national committees. A Scout since age 12, he was a member of the Boy Scout Honor Guard welcoming Charles Lindbergh flying ""The Spirit of St. Louis"" on his stop in Memphis, Tennessee in October, 1927. Harry firmly believed that the ideals instilled by the Boy Scouts are invaluable in developing strong moral character for America's youth. He has contributed over the years to 10 councils in 3 regions, including the Sam Houston Area Council. He and his wife also provided the lead gift for the 1,100 acre Bovay Scout Ranch near Navasota, Texas and made arrangements for his Foundation to be a significant benefactor to the Scouts served by the Sam Houston Area Council, the Philmont Scout Ranch and the National Council for years to come. He was awarded the Silver Beaver in 1965, the Silver Antelope in 1976 and the Silver Buffalo in 1986 for Distinguished Service to Boyhood. In 1988, he became a Baden-Powell Fellow in honor of his support of the World Scout Foundation.
On a wall in his father's office hung a poem that has been a favorite of Harry's since childhood. The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole was published near the turn of the 20th century, and tells the story of an old man, who, though it will not benefit him personally, takes the time to build a bridge over a stream he has just crossed to benefit an inexperienced youth who follows after him.
Harry's father built bridges across the Mississippi River. Harry E. Bovay, Jr. has spent his life building different kinds of bridges, whether through his engineering practice or his philanthropic endeavors…but all designed to benefit those following after him. He was a true pioneer, always seeking to solve problems, reminding himself and others that an innovative spirit would enable a person to solve a problem if he could define it. Harry was respected and admired by those who knew him and has touched countless lives through his generosity. He always held others as well as himself to the highest ethical standards for the sake of his profession, clients and the communities he served.
Harry is survived by more loving family, friends, staff, caregivers and recipients of his philanthropy than there is room to mention.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from six until eight o'clock in the evening on Friday, the 27th of May, in the Library and Grand Foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
His funeral service is to be conducted at two o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday, the 28th of May, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons. Immediately following, all are invited to a reception in the adjacent Grand Foyer. The interment service is to follow the reception, via an escorted cortege, at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions, in Mr. Harry E. Bovay's name, may be directed to the Sam Houston Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, P. O. Box 924528, Houston, TX, 77292-4528.

Published by Houston Chronicle from May 26 to May 28, 2011.
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31 Entries
I think of Harry Bovay often. I am really surprised sometimes at how often I think of him. As the Sue and Harry Bovay Professor of the History and Ethics of Engineering, Emeritus, at Texas A & M, I owe a professional debt to his generosity. I also remember his kindness to me and his never-failing support for me and the Engineering Ethics program at Texas A&M. He seemed to really appreciate what I and others were doing with the financial support he provided. The quality of a man is indicated by the people around him, and there is no better man than Mike Patrick. Wonderful memories that are still present with me, even as I continue in retirement to write in Engineering Ethics.
Ed Harris
May 21, 2020
Uncle Harry...Wish I could have spent more time with you. Momma was so very proud of you. She talked of you all the time. As a child, I remember telling Momma, you were my "favorite Uncle". I am comforted by te fact that you, Aunt Jeanne, George, and your parents are all together now in the most perfect place...loving and enjoying being together again. God Bless you and the souls of all the departed
Betsie Leahy
August 26, 2011
Mr. Bovay was very generous to the students at Houlka Attendance Center. He was a wonderful man who truly cared about others and strongly believed in giving back to others. He will be greatly missed.
Kathy Davis-Austin
June 1, 2011
As Mr. Bovay’s caretaker for the past 8 years, I was extremely privileged to have cared for someone who was so smart, caring and generous. I remember going to school, then coming in to assist Mr. Bovay, and realizing I had just stepped into another classroom. He taught me that life should be lived to its fullest. He told me his life experiences and struggles. He told me he felt strongly about getting an education, and of course always pushed me to get my degree. He once shared with me his story on what it took for him to literally pursue his education. He had inquired as a young boy, with all of his father’s friends as to which was the school to go. “ I remember hitchhiking myself from Tennessee all the way to Cornell University with only so many cents and many sleepless nights. We could do that back then. I don’t recommend you hitchhiking now.” He told me with a smile. It was inspiring and an honor to have been a part of Mr. Bovay’s life for so many years, and to have been with him until the end. He will be greatly missed not only for the footprint he left here on this Earth but for his sense or humor and countless jokes.
May You Rest in Peace Sir,

With Love, Adoration and True Respect for a Great Human Being,

Margarita Posadas
Margarita Posadas
May 28, 2011
I extend my heartfelt condolences to the Bovay Family on your loss. I first met Mr. Bovay while employed as an analyst with the Aetna Life & Casualty back in the 1970's. When the Aetna closed the doors to the casualty division nationwide, Mr. Bovay hired me when Bovay Engineers was located near the Warwick Hotel. He was a good friend and boss. I had the pleasure of seeing him about a year and a half ago over in the medical center and he actually knew who I was. As we talked while getting off the elevator he even called my name and comment he always wondered what happened to me and had no idea that I was still living in the area. It was a pleasure to see him after so many years. I consider this a great loss as was the passing of my Mother in October, 2010. He has left a great legacy. I told him and apologized also for not staying in touch over the years and he understood. He had touched so many lives in such a positive way with the greatest of integrity. Even though he will be missed by you, his family, he has left so much for you in this life. Enjoy it and cherish hisi wonderful memories. You are in my prayers. Take care and may the love of Jesus Christ embrace you. Grace and Peace to you. Lillie Neblett Jefferson
Lillie Neblett Jefferson
May 28, 2011
I worked for Bovay Engineers for several years and found Mr. Bovay to be a very kind and friendly man. I know he will be missed by many. My heartfelt sympathy to his family.
Linda Smith-Wright
May 28, 2011
Heaven gets the Sam Houston Area Council's best Scout. At every function we loved to play the 'Last Scout Standing' for years of service, because we all knew who would be the last to sit. Looking in his direction, we each thought "There's how high the bar sets."
Stephen Stakemiller
May 28, 2011
Mr. Bovay lived the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law everyday of his life, always thinking of others before himself. He will be missed by all who were blessed to count him as a friend.
James Johnson
May 27, 2011
Mr. Bovay you will be GREATLY missed. I have many memories with you that I will cherish forever.

As the darkness of night approaches, there is sadness in the air. The life of the one you loved will be no longer there. Though emptiness surronds you, alas, he's finally free. He may have lost the battle, but his soul is there with thee.... It's hard to lose a loved one and we may not understand, put you trust in God the Father and he'll lead you by the hand. He'll lead you through the heartache and dry each tear you cry, for God knows the pain of death, when he saw his own Son die. Just as he loved his Son, he loves you just the same. Sometimes it takes a heartache to magnify his name
Erica Vega
May 27, 2011
It was my privilege to have known and cared for Mr Bovay the past 25 years. I will never forget the numerous hunting trips we shared together, several in which he included my son. He was an example of an individual with the highest integrity, generosity, love of God and his fellow man. Thanks Harry for your friendship, I am a better person for having known you!
Mark Frnka, DDS
May 27, 2011
Harry Bovay served TSPE and NSPE as President during the earlier days of the organizations, at a time when the societies, as well as our profession, was evolving and meeting many challenges. For those of us who held the office in recent years, there is much that Harry did that remained as guidance for us. Harry Bovay will be missed, but not forgotten.
Bernard R. Berson, PE, F.NSPE
May 27, 2011
I remember many visits with the Bovay family. Our parents, Midge and Ben Hill, would play bridge together, while Susan, (sometimes Mark), Sandy, and I would play in another part of the house/yard. He will be missed by everyone he knew.
Debbie Hill McKinney
May 27, 2011
No one lived and believed in the Scout Oath and Law more than Harry Bovay. His leadership, vision and generosity built a rock foundation that made the program of Scouting in the Houston area the best in America. His vision provided the marvelous Bovay Scout Ranch for todays Scouts and his benevolent generosity has provided for future generations of Scouts to enjoy its adventure. It was one of my greatest pleasures to work and hunt with Harry over the past 31 years. He was a great friend and mentor. I will miss him greatly but I know he will be that Great Scoutmaster above watching over us and expecting us to carry on his high standards and traditions. He did his duty to God and Country and helped other people at all times. His legacy will lead thousands of future Scouts to a great life. A Scout Salute for a job well done.
Roger Ohmstede
May 27, 2011
Mr. Bovay you are going to be missed greatly; from the very first day we meet; my family and I looked up to you as a friend with a heart as big as Texas!, as a proffessional, and most important a father figure. Words a lone can't express your kindness.
You once shared with me " Life is made of memorable moments. We must teach ourselves to really live.. to love the journey not the destination". Mr. Bovay to see Jesus will be heaven's greatest joy.
Love you forever, your care provider of many years.
Ellie Solis and family
Ellie Solis
May 27, 2011
Harry became a member of the Goldston clan when he married by my Aunt Sue. My father, James M. Goldston, an engineer, truely appreciated the love he had and expressed for Aunt Sue. He also looked forward to getting together with Harry to talk shop, to hunt, or just enjoy life. I found my connection with him because of our love for what Scouting should be and out efforts to support Scouting. With the passing of my father in December, i have been thinking of Harry quite a bit. My son, as Cadet Major of the Corps of Cadets Color Guard, enjoyed the privilage of escorting Harry at the Sam Houston Councils celebration honoring Harry for his dedication to Scouting. We had hoped to visit him this summer and will miss him.
Don Goldston
May 27, 2011
Summer Camp this year will have a special angel watching over us. Thank you for all you have done for the boys to encourage them to follow the way of scouting and become leaders of men. You will truly be missed.
Gregg Williams
May 27, 2011
It was my pleasure to meet with Mr. Bovay several years ago. We, at Cornell University, have benefited from his donations in support of Civil Engineering education and research through the Harry E. Bovay Jr. Laboratory Complex and in support of the teaching of Engineering Ethics through the Sue G. and Harry E. Bovay Jr. Program in History and Engineering ethics. Thanks to him, our students receive a better education and can become involved in important research.
Timothy Bond
May 27, 2011
Mr. Bovay opened his doors to us a couple of years ago when my husband, Jerry, was battling cancer and making numerous trips to Houston. Never have I met anyone with such compassion for someone whom he had never met. You will be missed. Enjoy your new home with our Lord!!
Barbara McGinnis
May 26, 2011
Having had the priveledge of working with Harry Professionally and enjoying his company socially, I learned to love the man.
Tex Kidwell, PE, NHPE, El Paso, Texas
May 26, 2011
I owe so much to Mr. Bovay, who funded the Professorship in Engineering Ethics at Texas A&M University, which I now occupy. I considered him a friend as well as a benefactor. He was always so wonderfully supportive of the efforts in engineering ethics at Texas A&M, attending the Bovay Lecture each semester and meeting students in the class. He will be sadly missed and long remembered.
Charles E. (Ed) Harris
May 26, 2011
Meeting Harry Bovay at a TSPE meeting was one of the great highlights and fondest memories of my year as President of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Harry has had a profound and lasting impact on our profession. Harry will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.
Brad Aldrich
May 26, 2011
Mr. Bovay,
You are a beacon to all of us in your profession. You have left a perfect trail with your signature all over it. May you rest in peace with the greatest one of all.
Bob Lupher
May 26, 2011
One of the most honorable, generous and hard-working persons I've ever had the privilege to know. A spirit that will continue on, driving all those he came in contact with to strive for excellence in all aspects of life. Thank you, Harry.
Tom Stephens
May 26, 2011
In the short time I have known Mr. Bovay, it was always a pleasure to listen to his stories of life and especially his golf jokes!
Horst Paul
May 26, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Bovay, for your invaluable contributions to the Sam Houston Council and to Boy Scouts. May you rest in peace.
A Scout Mom
May 26, 2011
Mr. Bovey is an inspiration to so many Scouters and loved the Sam Houston Area Council, BSA.
Devin Koehler
May 26, 2011
A wonderful friend. You will be missed. Linda Miller Guntown, MS Mid South Telephone
May 26, 2011
Mr. Bovay epitomized good business ethics. He will be remembered as a generous, forward-thinking soul, seeking opportunities to invest in youth, and forever growing.
Janet Bathurst
May 26, 2011
Mr. Bovay you will be missed dearly. It was a pleasure being one of your nurses. Hope to hear your jokes when I make it to Heaven.
Gloria Martinez
May 26, 2011
Awww, I will miss him forever. I am, however, so thankful that he is relieved of his suffering. He lived his life well.
Sharon Fisher
May 26, 2011
Bon voyage to a very generous patron of Boy Scouts who lived the Scout Slogan "Do a Good Turn Daily."
Tom Lewis
May 25, 2011
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