Home Current Events Wallace Boston, Sr.: The Legacy of a Life Well Lived
Wallace Boston, Sr.: The Legacy of a Life Well Lived

Wallace Boston, Sr.: The Legacy of a Life Well Lived

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Last Monday, my father passed away. Appended below are a few memories from my siblings and me.

Wallace Boston, Sr. was an extremely special man. He lived a long and memorable life as an individual with an incredible work ethic, great faith and character, high ethical standards, and a kind and generous spirit.

He was a loving husband to our mother, Barbara, for over 67 years as well as a wonderful father, grandfather, great-grandfather, son, brother, uncle, great-uncle, great-great-uncle, cousin, and friend. Wallace Sr. worked for three John Deere agriculture equipment dealerships and Deere & Company for approximately 66 years.

Wallace Boston Sr. and Barbara
My parents Barbara and Wallace Boston, Sr. Photo courtesy of the author.

By his own account, Wallace Sr. was not very interested in school, unless it involved sports or fixing things. In high school, he allegedly asked his agriculture teacher to excuse him from class so he could fix tractors, and he bargained with his English teacher to fix her car in return for a reasonable grade for the semester.

Regardless of his actions, Wallace Sr. preached the virtues of attending college to all four of his children and was proud that all of us graduated from college (we know that he had a hand in “convincing” two of us to continue). Barbara and Wallace Sr. not only attended all of their children’s graduations from high school and college, but also attended all of their grandchildren’s graduations as well.

Wallace Sr. handed off the job of assisting us with our formal education to Barbara, but he was a big believer in learning, particularly if it involved fixing things or utilizing common sense. When we were too young to fix our bikes, we did not have the luxury of handing off the repair to him and doing something else until he fixed it.

If he was able to fix it right away, he required us to watch him fix it so that we would learn how to fix it the next time. He knew that we would learn to appreciate how much time and effort it took to fix it, whether we were watching or fixing.

Wallace Sr. frequently pointed out instances where we or our friends failed to utilize our common sense to solve a problem. Over time, we realized that many problems didn’t need a Ph.D. to solve them, just common sense.

We weren’t the only ones that Wallace Sr. helped fix things. It was not unusual for friends to stop by our house in the evenings or on Saturdays and ask him if he could check something out.

He was a natural at fixing things. It was his livelihood, his hobby, and something he did for his friends, relatives, and children. Two weeks before he passed away, he instructed a friend by phone how to fix his tractor based on a description of the issue. According to the friend, the solution worked.

However, Wallace Sr. didn’t fix things on Sunday. Sunday was a day of rest that started with Sunday School and church when his children got older and remained for the church service. After returning from church, we gathered together for dinner before being allowed to go outside. Dad would read the newspaper and watch a game or movie on TV, but he did not work on Sunday. It was his day of rest, and his religious beliefs were deep and strong.

“It doesn’t matter to me what you do when you grow up, as long as you do your job better than anyone else” was one of Dad’s favorite lines to us. We knew that he meant it, and we knew that he lived it. He was the best mechanic in the world and could fix just about anything.

Wallace Sr. wanted his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to pursue their passion and be great at whatever they chose to do. All of us understood that being a great mechanic was a much better outcome in life than being a mediocre doctor, lawyer, or accountant.

Wallace Sr. believed in serving his community. He was a volunteer fireman by choice. When he was younger, that sometimes involved responding to an alarm in the middle of the night, fighting a fire, and coming home in time to change and go to work. He never complained.

When we moved to Hampstead, one of the first organizations that he joined was the volunteer fire department. He served two volunteer fire departments for over 68 years combined. When he joined any group, Wallace Sr. became an active participant, donating something more precious than money: his time.

In addition to being a volunteer fireman, he was a member of the Lions Club and was a Master Mason. Up until a few months ago, he still attended meetings, decades after he first joined.

One of Wallace Sr.’s favorite statements was, “if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say it.” He practiced what he preached. He had a special way of finding the good side of everyone, friends and relatives alike.

We see the best of his many attributes in our siblings, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and believe that a few of them may have rubbed off on his nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and friends. Our dad, Wallace Boston, Sr., touched the lives of so many people — and that is the measure of a life that was well lived.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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