He was the motivation for Armstrong’s Kindale Developmental Association.
But Gary Boss is being remembered as a card shark, tight with his money and a beautiful human being.
Boss died June 1 at age 64.
Born in Armstrong with Down Syndrome, in an age where little was known about the condition and life expectancy was short, Boss lived a full, active and productive life.
Along the way, he touched the lives of many, including long-time family friend Donna Beenen who, along with her husband, Laurie, worked and volunteered at Kindale with Boss, and were his caregivers for eight years.
“He was such a loving man, very affectionate, kind and caring,” said Beenen, fighting back tears. “He loved animals, including our dog, Teddy, a brown chocolate Shih Tzu.”
Beenen’s tears turn to laughs when she recalls how great a cribbage player Boss was. He was introduced to the card game as a member of the local Oddfellows Club, whose membership included Boss’ dad, Rawleigh, and Laurie Beenen.
“Every year, the club would hold crib tournaments and he’d beat the pants off everybody,” laughed Beenen. “And if you played for money, and he won, he made sure to get his money. He was very good with numbers.”
Boss, said Beenen, tended to be a little on the frugal side with his cash.
“His grandmother took him to the fair (IPE) and when they got to the gate, he said, ‘I don’t have any money,’ so his grandmother bought his ticket,” said Beenen, chuckling at the memory. “Inside, Gary went and bought some food. His grandmother said, ‘I thought you didn’t have any money,’ and he said, ‘Well, I have just a little.’”
An avid sports fan, Boss was devoted to his beloved BC Lions, LA Kings and New England Patriots. He loved bowling, swimming, going to the gym, music, movies, travelling and playing crib. He enjoyed a good party, especially if dancing was involved.
Boss was the original inspiration for Kindale. Through the efforts of his parents and the local Kinsmen club, a small school was built to meet the needs of children with special needs in the 1960s. Over the years Kindale has grown and evolved into the stellar organization it is today.
Eight years ago this month, ground was broken on Kindale’s Lydia Boss Centre on Patterson Avenue, named after Gary’s late mom, a former healthcare nurse who was instrumental in helping kids with disabilities. At the ceremony, Gary told the crowd of more than 100 that the building “is a good way to remember her. I loved my mom.”
Boss is survived by his brother, Roy (Donna), nieces Shanna (Mike) Doran and Traci (Lucas) Mata, nephew Andrew (Debby) and brand new great-nephew Daxton, along with many cousins, a host of friends, and an entire community.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, and nowhere has that ever been more true than in Armstrong,” said Boss’ family in his obituary. “But in Gary’s case, along the way, that village has also learned a great deal from the child.”
Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, a celebration of Gary’s life will be held at a later date, when conditions allow. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Kindale, or a charity of your choice.