William Cleveland Bosher Jr. 1946-2014

click to enlarge bosher_williamweb.jpg

He was a principal, mentor, adviser and trusted resource. He was a husband, son, father, brother and grandfather. A man of God.

Bill Bosher also had his pilot’s license. Sometimes I flew along with his family for a track meet or a baseball game out of town. Dr. B, as many people called him, loaded us up in a four- or six-person plane, carted us off and got us to our destination with only a few “hiccups,” as he would say, along the way. For a simple girl from Mechanicsville, those times felt exciting.

My mother and father were high-school principals. My brother is a high-school administrator and my sister is an elementary-school teacher. I am the black sheep, but more than once considered a career path in education. And all of my family had something in common -- our immense love for and admiration of William C. Bosher Jr., who died Dec. 1 at age 68.

Growing up in Hanover County, and having friendships with his children, I was privileged to know him from a young age. I spent a good amount of time with him when I was young on holidays, vacations and church outings. The values that both he and his wife instilled in their family still echo with me.

As a young girl, I attended Fairmount Christian Church with his family on Sunday evenings for a few years. After church, the Bosher family tradition was to dine at Arby’s on Mechanicsville Turnpike. Dr. B always recalled that my favorite Arby’s treat was curly fries with extra cheese. He made a big production each time that I had more cheese than fries and genuinely enjoyed watching me laugh at his remark -- every time.

While we’d sit in the booth, people would come up to shake his hand and talk with him throughout the dinner. They’d always say, “Do you remember you taught me back in. …” He knew every person. Remembered every name. His mind was a steel trap -- for cheese fries or names and faces. No one was a stranger.

He was a storyteller, too -- on a stage in front of many, or in a small room in front of few. On the occasions when I accompanied his large family to Lake Gaston, he told story after story. Laughter filled the room while he and his brother riffed off each other, telling stories of their childhood -- always with a lesson. Because he was a teacher at heart, gently guiding those around him. Everyone learned something from him. His legacy will live through every student, parent, church member and friend. Which is to say, almost every person in Richmond. Because he knew, and remembered, them all.

Yes, he served as superintendent of the Henrico and Chesterfield county schools and the commonwealth, dean of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education and executive director of the university’s Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute through the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

But above all else, he was a teacher.

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