I’ve written a lot of obituaries for friends and family over the years – here’s my mom’s from two years ago – but this one was definitely one of the most challenging. It took me a week before I was able to piece the words together to try and sum up Tim’s life in a few paragraphs. Like I mentioned over here, he lived a lot of life in his almost 70 years.
But really, that’s always the case, isn’t it? You don’t really know someone until you read their obituary and find out all the amazing stuff they did in their life. That was the case with our neighbor, Doyle Pierman, who passed away in 2020. Tim and I even rented their house before we built ours here on Bluff Road, so it wasn’t like we didn’t know Doyle and his wife Jackie.
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And yet, we were astounded to read his obituary and learn that he served in the Marine Corp during WWII and earned two Purple Hearts. To us, he was always our friendly neighbor with the gentle smile. We had no idea he was right in the thick of things during the war. That’s probably true for a lot of OMPers of that generation.
In fact, Tim’s dad, Tug, even took his senior year of high school off, went and fought in the war, came back and finished school. Tim and I always marveled at the guts it took to do that, and then come back to a world of football games and school dances.
Anyway, I finally wrote out a rough draft of Tim’s obit a couple nights ago and finished it up yesterday. I think part of my procrastination was that once you see it in print or on a website, that makes it real. Until then, somewhere in your mind it’s all just a big misunderstanding, and Tim will walk through the door from cutting wood and everything will just go on as before.
As always, thank you all so much for the love and prayers and support – and food! – you’ve given me and the kids as we try and navigate this next chapter of our lives. I will continue my work with the Gazette, although it will take some getting used to driving around the Peninsula without Tim.
Also, between the two of us, we could usually piece together whatever history of the Peninsula and people we were looking for. But since I no longer have his lifelong knowledge of such, I will be calling on all of you to fill in whatever info I might be missing. I have a whole community of knowledge in you all, and believe me, I will be accessing it!
Timothy Charles Boursaw
Feb. 29, 1952 – Jan. 5, 2022
TRAVERSE CITY – Timothy Charles Boursaw, 69, of Traverse City, passed away on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.
Timothy, known to friends and family as Tim, was born on Feb. 29, 1952, in Traverse City, MI, to Alice Jane (Draper) Boursaw and the late Tug Thomas Boursaw. He attended Old Mission Peninsula School and graduated from Traverse City Senior High School (now Traverse City Central High School) in 1970.
Tim first spotted his soulmate, Jane Louise (Johnson) Boursaw, at Lardie’s Grocery (now the Old Mission General Store) in the summer of 1979. Well, let’s back up a little. He actually first saw Jane when she was just a baby. Tim lived with his family in a house behind Lardie’s Grocery, and one day in 1960, Jane’s brother Dean walked across the field between their homes and asked Tim if he wanted to see his new baby sister. Tim happily complied, and that’s the first time he saw that red-headed baby girl named Jane.
Fast-forward to 1979 … after living together for 14 years, Tim and Jane were married on Dec. 31, 1993, and built a log cabin on the Old Mission Peninsula with the help of Tim’s dad Tug and lifelong friend Jon Andrus. Tim and Jane have two kids, Will and Marissa, and they were thrilled to watch them grow up on the same Peninsula where they were born and raised.
Here’s Tim with Will and Marissa on a trail out at Old Mission Point Park around 2005. We spent a lot of time wandering around Old Mission with them.
Tim spent much of his life finding and restoring British sports cars, including MGs, Austin-Healeys, Triumphs, Aston Martins and Jaguars, with the occasional Lotus (also British), Abarth (Italian) and others thrown in. After restoration, some of these cars were purchased by Brits and returned back to their homeland.
“I’ve never considered myself a collector or a dealer or anything in between,” Tim once said. “I’ve always felt that I’m on a rescue mission, a race against rust, so to speak, to find and pass on the elegant, the weird, and the obscure.”
Here’s one of his early sports cars, a Triumph TR3 he bought from Bill McCaw, who lived just down the road from our current house on Bluff Road.
In his early years, Tim worked during the summer months on Far Out Farms at the end of the Old Mission Peninsula. However, being averse to cold and snowy weather, he would escape to the Caribbean in the winter, camping on St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St. John and Tortola, among others.
Tim was a gifted guitarist who loved to play Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” every Fourth of July (plugged in, on ten, of course). Along with Hendrix, some of his favorite bands and musicians included AC/DC, Tom Waits, Junior Brown, George Jones, Jeff Beck, Leonard Cohen, Pat Metheny and many others.
Here’s Tim playing at our friend Bob Roberts’ summer jam session in 2019. This seems like a thousand years ago now.
Tim and Jane, both lifelong natives of the Old Mission Peninsula, started publishing a reader-supported online newspaper, Old Mission Gazette, in 2015. Locals would often see them on their daily drive around the Peninsula, scouting out stories and photos for the Gazette and talking to folks about Peninsula history. Tim’s great-great-uncle, John Baptiste Boursaw, born in 1850, was the first mail-carrier between the Old Mission Peninsula and Mackinac, traveling much of the route by foot or canoe.
Tim endured a number of near-death health issues during the past 20 years, including a liver transplant in 2003, kidney issues, and three back-to-back emergency surgeries for an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 2017. Tim and Jane logged thousands of miles back and forth to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, and they’d do it all again so he could watch his kids grow into the amazing adults they’ve become.
Tim was an avid follower of all things J.R.R. Tolkien, both the “Lord of the Rings” books and movies. On his last day on earth, he said to make sure and tell all his friends and family that when it’s their time to go, he’ll be waiting for them at the Prancing Pony in Bree. “I do believe it’s time for another adventure,” he said, shortly before he took his last breath.
Tim rarely went to the movies with us, but he made an exception when “The Hobbit” was released in 2012. Here he is with Will at the theater in Traverse City (when it was at the mall).
Tim is survived by his wife, Jane Louise (Johnson) Boursaw; his kids William James Boursaw and Marissa Jane Boursaw; his mom, Alice Jane (Draper) Boursaw; uncle Bryce Boursaw; aunt and uncle Cathy and George Boursaw; sister Sherie Boursaw; brother Tee Boursaw and his partner Patrick Russell; brother and sister-in-law Terry and Jane (Beutler) Boursaw; nephew Garrett Boursaw; niece Abigail Boursaw; best friend Mark Kelly, and many other friends and family.
Tim was preceded in death by his dad, Tug Thomas Boursaw, and his sister, Roxanne Boursaw.
A celebration of Tim’s life will take place this summer at Bowers Harbor Park on the Old Mission Peninsula. Stay tuned to Old Mission Gazette for more info.
Tim asked that memorial contributions be made in his name to Old Mission Gazette, to help further Jane’s work on the Gazette and local journalism. Contributions may be mailed to Old Mission Gazette, P.O. Box 14, Old Mission, MI, 49673; or online at oldmission.net/donate.
Many thanks to Tim’s team of doctors at U of M Hospital for saving his life so many times over the years, as well as the anonymous family who donated their loved one’s liver, giving Tim an extra 20 years so he could watch his kids grow up.
The Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremations Services is serving the family. Feel free to share a memory with his family by visiting his tribute page at reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
I accompanied him on his excursion to the Caribbean in the winter of 1979. Here’s one of my favorite pictures I took of him – at the ruins on St. John. He’s wearing his Jimi Hendrix belt, along with a t-shirt from Tortola, where we camped at Brewer’s Bay.