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 school in San Jose. High school sports were important to Bill and allowed him to attended College of the Pacific (COP) on a football scholarship. The legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg was Bill’s coach 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’s 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 Marines and fought bravely in Okinawa. Bill 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 service in 1945.
During his recuperation from his war injury, Bill was introduced to the love of his life, Dorothy Adams as the “greatest guy to come out of 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 for two years. During this time Bill attended 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 was promoted to principal of Las Palmas Elementary where he touched the lives of many students and parents. He was known as fair, honest compassionate and was 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 involved 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 Lodi Harrison. 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 to over 30 countries. One memorable trip took them around the world in 60 days.
Most importantly, Bill was a loving devoted husband and father. His family 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 10 grandchildren. Many nieces and nephews recall his charming stories, fanciful tales and playful teasing. They all loved their Papa; the twinkle in his eyes and his playful laugh.
Bill continually showed interest in other people by asking questions and listening intently to their stories. Everyone felt welcome in Bill and Dottie’s. Dottie did the cooking, Bill served popcorn (the only thing he could cook) and a smile (that no one else could do better). He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dottie, their three children Steve (Mary), Medford, Oregon; Mike (Tracy), Modesto; and Jill Cooper (Mike) of Arroyo Grande, California. He also has 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate scholarship donations for Turlock and 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 on Saturday August 9, 2014, at the First United Methodist Church of Turlock in the Social Hall (1660 Arbor Way).