I’ve written plenty of obituaries for friends and family over the years — here’s my mom’s from two years ago — but this was definitely one of the toughest. It took me a week before I could muster the words to try to sum up Tim’s life in a few paragraphs. As I mentioned here, he has lived a lot of life in his almost 70 years.
But really, that’s still the case, isn’t it? You don’t really know someone until you read their obituary and find out about all the amazing things they’ve done in their life. This 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 Jacky.
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And yet, we were stunned to read his obituary and learn that he served in the Marine Corps during World War II and earned two Purple Hearts. For us, he has always been our friendly neighbor with a sweet smile. We had no idea he was in the thick of the action during the war. That’s probably true for a lot of OMpers of this generation.
In fact, Tim’s dad, Tug, even took his senior year of high school, went to fight in the war, came back, and finished school. Tim and I have always marveled at the courage it took to do this and then come back to a world of football games and school dances.
Anyway, I finally wrote a draft of Tim’s obituary a few nights ago and finished it yesterday. I think part of my procrastination was that once you see it in print or on a website, it makes it real. Until then, somewhere in your mind, it’s all just a big misunderstanding, and Tim will walk through the door after chopping wood and everything will go on as before.
As always, thank you so much for the love, prayers and support – and the food! – you have given to me and the children as we try to navigate this next chapter of our lives. I will continue my work with the Gazette, although it will take some getting used to touring the Peninsula without Tim.
Plus, between the two of us, we could usually piece together the history of the peninsula and the people we were looking for. But as I no longer have his permanent knowledge of this subject, I will ask you all to complete all the information that I miss. I have a whole community of knowledge in all of you, and believe me, I will access it!
Timothee Charles Boursaw
February 29, 1952 – January 5, 2022
TRAVERSE CITY – Timothy Charles Boursaw, 69, of Traverse City, died Wednesday, January 5, 2022.
Timothy, known to friends and family as Tim, was born on February 29, 1952 in Traverse City, MI to Alice Jane (Draper) Boursaw and the late Tugboat Thomas Boursaw. He attended Old Mission Peninsula School and graduated from Traverse City Senior High School (now Traverse City Central High School) in 1970.
He first spotted his soul mate, Jane Louise (Johnson) Boursaw, at Lardie’s Grocery (now the Old Mission General Store) in the summer of 1979. After living together for 14 years, they were married on December 31, 1993. and built a log cabin on the Old Mission Peninsula with the help of Tim’s father, Tug, and lifelong friend, Jon Andrus. Tim and Jane have two children, Will and Marissa, and they were thrilled to watch them grow up on the same peninsula where they were born and raised.
Here is Tim with Will and Marissa on a trail in Old Mission Point Park circa 2005. We spent a lot of time walking around Old Mission with them.
Tim has 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. After the restoration, some of these cars were bought by British people and sent back to their country of origin.
“I never thought of myself as a collector or a dealer or anything in between,” Tim said. “I always felt I was on a rescue mission, a race against the rust, so to speak, to find and convey the elegant, the strange and the obscure.”
Here is one of his first sports cars, a Triumph TR3 he bought from Bill McCaw, who lived just down the road from our current home on Bluff Road.
During his early years, Tim worked the summer months at Far Out Farms at the end of the Old Mission peninsula. However, being averse to the cold, snowy weather, he would flee to the Caribbean in the winter, camping in St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St. John, and Tortola, among others.
Tim was a gifted guitarist who enjoyed playing Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” every Fourth of July (hip, out of 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 more.
Here’s Tim playing at our friend Bob Roberts’ summer jam session in 2019. It feels like a thousand years ago now.
Tim and Jane, both from the Old Mission Peninsula, started publishing a reader-supported online newspaper, Old Mission Gazette, in 2015. Locals often saw them on their daily commute around the peninsula, researching stories and photos for the Gazette. and talk to people about the history of the peninsula. Tim’s great-great-uncle, John Baptiste Boursaw, born in 1850, was the first letter carrier between the Old Mission Peninsula and Mackinac, covering much of the route on foot or by canoe.
Tim has endured a number of near-death health issues over the past 20 years, including a liver transplant in 2003, kidney problems and three consecutive emergency surgeries for an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 2017. Tim and Jane have traveled thousands of miles. back and forth to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, and they would do it all over again so he could watch his children grow into the amazing adults they have become.
Tim was an avid follower of all things JRR 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 time to go, he’ll be waiting for them at the Prancing Pony in Bree. “I believe it’s time for another adventure,” he said, shortly before taking his last breath.
Tim rarely went to the movies with us, but he made an exception when “The Hobbit” came out in 2012. Here he is with Will at the Traverse City theater (when it was at the mall).
Tim is survived by his wife, Jane Louise (Johnson) Boursaw; his children William James Boursaw and Marissa Jane Boursaw; his mother, 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 members.
Tim was predeceased by his father, Tug Thomas Boursaw, and his sister, Roxanne Boursaw.
A celebration of Tim’s life will be held this summer at Bowers Harbor Park on the Old Mission Peninsula. Stay tuned to Old Mission Gazette for more information.
Tim requested that memorial contributions be made in his name to the Old Mission Gazette, to help continue Jane’s work on the Gazette and local journalism. Contributions may be mailed to Old Mission Gazette, PO 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, and to the anonymous family who donated their loved one’s liver, giving Tim an extra 20 years so he can see his children grow up. .
Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services serves the family. Do not hesitate to share a memory with his family by visiting his tribute page to reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
I accompanied him on his trip to the Caribbean in the winter of 1979. Here is one of my favorite photos I took of him – at the ruins of St. John. He wears his Jimi Hendrix belt, as well as a t-shirt from Tortola, where we camped in Brewer’s Bay.