Tim Boursaw Obituary | Jane Boursaw Photo
Tim Boursaw Obituary | Jane Boursaw Photo
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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!

Below is his obituary, which will be published on both the Reynolds-Jonkhoff website and the Record-Eagle, although I’m not sure when. Here on the Gazette, you get a few bonus pictures of Tim’s life.

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, Will and Marissa Boursaw at Old Mission Point Park, circa 2005
Tim, Will and Marissa Boursaw at Old Mission Point Park, circa 2005

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.

How Tim Boursaw and his Triumph TR3 ended up in the Empire Hill Climb
Tim Boursaw’s Triumph TR3, purchased from Bill McCaw on the Old Mission Peninsula and later painted gray | Jane Boursaw Photo

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 Boursaw playing at Bob Roberts' summer jam session, 2019 | Jane Boursaw Photo
Tim Boursaw playing at Bob Roberts’ summer jam session, 2019 | Jane Boursaw Photo

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 and Will Boursaw at "The Hobbit" in 2012 | Jane Boursaw Photo
Tim and Will Boursaw at “The Hobbit” in 2012 | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

Tim Boursaw on St. John, Virgin Islands | Jane Boursaw Photo
Tim Boursaw on St. John, Virgin Islands | Jane Boursaw Photo

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. Nicely done Jane. Tim’s stories will live on not only for those that knew him but those that will read his escapades in years to come. Thank you.

  2. One of the best Obits I’ve ever read. Jane, you did an awesome job. I learned a lot about Tim and I am smiling with a tear in my eye. Thank you so much.

  3. Sincere sympathy to you and your family. I went to Old Mission Elementary with Tim through eighth grade. I sure remember Tim’s kindness and great sense of humor. Sending you prayers that the love and support of friends and family and your best memories surround and comfort you during this difficult time.

  4. Jane,
    I was so sorry to learn of Tim’s passing. The two of you have shared an amazing journey together with memories to treasure. Each challenge was faced arm in arm, the only way you could. Beth and I send you all our love as you step by step move forward.
    Dale and Beth Hotelling

  5. Bless you Jane for the heartfelt tribute of Tim’s life. He definitely lived life to the fullest and left many of us with fond memories of our youth together. Bless you and your family through this healing time. Thank you for all the stories and the remember when’s.
    Jill Lardie Hayes

  6. As an appreciative summer resident and avid read of the Old Mission Gazette, you have my sincere condolences. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  7. Very nice Jane. you probably don’t remember me, but remember seeing both of you when i worked at Lardie’s for Mr. DeVol during the summers of 82-84.
    sending thoughts and prayers to you. He is now a shining star in the northern sky watching over you!

  8. Dear Jane
    I went to school with Tim. He introduced me to another way of life at the tender age of sixteen. While I ultimately declined the lifestyle, I always liked and looked up to Tim. My goal was to see him again this summer as we have a passion for British cars of which I have two.
    I am very sorry we couldn’t see each other and am giving you my deepest sympathy on your loss.

  9. So sorry for your loss Jane. I found your mention of Doyle (my grandfather) very touching, both he and Grammy enjoyed having you both in their lives. I fondly remember Tim zipping down the road in his project cars in various states of repair, my dad shared similar passions. Thoughts and prayers from our family to yours.

  10. It was such a treat to learn about your soulmate, Jane. Thank you for sharing about who he was and about your journey. I’m so sorry you and your kids have had to say goodbye. I didn’t know Tim but for maybe two conversations over the years I’ve been around OM, but I always enjoyed waving to him along Shipman Rd in recent times as he cut and took away all the wood along the road ROW. That to me was a small emblem of the kind of close community this is. I so wish I’d had a chance to ask him about the Virgin Islands, since we lived there for some years – I’m sure we trod some of the same paths 🙂

  11. Such a wonderful tribute to an extraordinary person. I wished I would have had the chance to meet him. I too, am a new widow. I will think about you over the coming months and wish you peace on your journey to serenity. Jeri Cooper Marshall.

  12. Jane, I went and got a cat from the Humane Society 2 weeks after Jack died..,,and I am telling you it was the best thing that helped me get through the grief. I had a cat to talk too., and take care of. I had her for 17 years.,, The best to you and success in your future plans.

  13. Hi Jane. I don’t know you personally, but I found your newsletter after visiting and falling in love with Traverse City and the Old Mission Peninsula, especially. I am so very sorry to read of the loss of your husband and can’t imagine what you are going through. I am happy to see that you have so many family members and friends taking care of you during this time. I look forward to continuing to read about OMP in your newsletter, and hopefully visiting again soon. All my sympathy to you and your family.

  14. I will miss Tim. We always had fun. My heart goes out to those left behind, Jane, Mirissa, and Will. I am sure Tim is fine now and we’ll see him on the other side.

  15. So sorry to hear of this. I was friends with Tim many years ago, we always had a good time just hanging out, or going to the bars. He was such a a nice guy, I was actually wondering about him recently. Sad to hear he has passed, my thoughts go out to his family.


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