SAUK PRAIRIE—Our Beloved father, Rex Theodore Boss, departed from his earthly life, Monday, Sept. 30. Now embracing the love of his life, our mother, Bette (Elizabeth) Jane Boss, they are joyfully reunited in the arms of their Creator.
Dad was born on Feb. 19, 1926, in Abilene Kansas. He attended kindergarten through grade 12 in Minneapolis, Kan.
At age 17, he unselfishly answered the call of duty to our country at war and bravely enlisted in the U.S. Navy from 1944-46. He served aboard the USS Kittson, APA 123, as a landing craft coxswain in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre. He participated in the Philippine liberation by skippering amphibious landings on Okinawa on Easter Sunday morning, 1945, during the Japanese occupation. He made stops in China and Japan. After the war, he served on “Magic Carpet” duty – transporting returning veterans to the States. He was on the Kittson from its commissioning in November, 1944, until she was decommissioned in March, 1946.
After the war, his job with the phone company brought him from Kansas to Madison, Wis. He fatefully met his life partner, Bette, when he and his buddies decided to sign up for ballroom dance lessons at Arthur Murray Studio, where Mom was a dance instructor. After a short and exciting time of “tripping the light fantastic,” they married on Dec. 4, 1948.
Dad and Mom settled in Spring Green in 1949. Postwar job opportunities were slim at the time. Desperate for steady work, in 1951, Dad’s spirit of adventure led him to owning a 24-hour truck stop. He was a lifelong learner and was not intimidated by his lack of knowledge. Dad was self-taught. That was the beginning of a highly satisfying and successful career as restaurateur with Mom as his business partner.
In 1965, Mom and Dad uprooted the family and moved to Milwaukee. Dad became the general manager of Perkins Pancake Houses in West Allis and Milwaukee. In 1968, the best offer of their lives occurred. Longing to be back on the Wisconsin River, Dad and Mom became managers and co-owners of the Firehouse Restaurant – a brand new supper club on the Wisconsin River—in Prairie du Sac. In time, they were awarded “Outstanding Restaurateurs of the Year” by the Madison chapter of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. They were excellent employers. Over the 25 years of operation, they employed over 1000 people from the Sauk-Prairie area. They believed in hiring family and were not willing to compromise their standard of excellence… by anyone… even their kids!
By the time they sold the Firehouse in 1993, they still had a handful of employees who were with them since opening day. Their last Mother’s Day, they served over 1000 customers. Pines Assisted Living was opening in Prairie du Sac. Dad was invited to come on board and get their kitchen and food program set up. He only had to cook for 24 residents – a piece of cake for Dad. He enjoyed cooking for this community without the stress of managing a large operation and worked for the Pines for 11 years. Lucky residents, many of whom were former Firehouse patrons! They were served Firehouse fare.
Dad had a keen sense of allegiance to our country and personal responsibility to the community. As a young man, he joined the Masons. After marrying Mom, he converted to Catholicism and became a charter and lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, Bishop Griffin Council #3450, in Spring Green. He also joined the volunteer fire department in Spring Green. His time in the Navy nurtured his love for country and he became actively involved in the American Legion Post #0253 in Spring Green. He was also a lifetime member of the VFW, Post #7694, for which he served in the Honor Guard and Firing Squad.
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As busy as Dad was with running restaurants and raising six kids, he found time to nurture his hobbies. He loved flying and held a private pilot’s license. He was a charter member of the Tri-County Flying Club, as at the Tri-County Airport at Lone Rock, Wis. Being an “old salt,” boating became a big part of his life. He built his own sailboat and passed the love of sailing to a number of his children and grandchildren. That and pontooning Lake Wisconsin with family and friends became summer pastimes. Dad was an avid woodworker and spent a lot of time in his workshop at home. In his late 70’s, he became a proud member of “The Hilltop Gospel Singers” in the Sauk-Prairie area.
Dad was preceded in death by Mom, Bette Jane Boss, his much-missed son, Patrick L. Boss, his beloved pooch, “Muffy,” his parents, John T. and Carrie E. (Babe) Boss, his siblings, Lawrence G. Boss, Phyllis J. Patton and Donna M. Dalton, his grandparents, John A. and Rosa Mae Boss and George B. and Dula E. Shoemaker, his mother- and father-in law, Marie and Martin Coyle, his brothers-in-law, Harlan Murphy, Wendell Murphy, Gene Wunnicke, Jack Dalton, Pat Patton and Patrick Coyle, and his sisters-in-law, Mary Wunnicke and Beverly Boss
Dad’s final and possibly most prized membership was with a group of wise guys, who met every morning at the Blue Spoon Café to discuss the news, share stories – true and not-so-true – and provide daily camaraderie to one another. Fondly known as the ROMEO’s – Retired Old Men Eating Out – Dad’s daily presence will be sorely missed by his buddies, Larry Pakyz, Paul Brindl, Tom Mahoney, Harold Carlson, Verlyn Mueller, Roger Clason, Bud Ederer, Fritz Dohm, and Dale Haroldson.
Dad is survived by his children, Maureen (Mark) Polczynski, Mary (Russ) Reddemann, Peggy (Jerome Sprecher) Mockler, Mike (Nina) Boss, and Kitty (Dan Neumeier) Boss-Veerhusen. His grandchildren are, Shane (Christina) Reddemann, Jason (Nicole) Hicks, Bryce (Jeanna Severn) Reddemann, Sara (Janna Cunningham) Hicks, Elizabeth (Liz) Reddemann, Dakota (Stacy) Veerhusen, Michael (Kaitlin Staudt) Polczynski, Sadie (Justin Drane) Boss, Erin (Matthew Grange) Veerhusen, Daniel (Alice) Boss, Dylan (Jennifer Nesbitt), and Kyle (Paige) Mockler. Dad, fondly known as G-G Pa, is survived by his great-grandchildren, Sophia, Andrew, and Elena Hicks, Jacob and Harper Cunningham, Reese Reddemann, Damian Villa, Oliver and William Grange, and Breyson Mockler.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Oct. 5, 2019, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, 115 Madison St., Sauk City. Interment with Military Honors will follow in the church cemetery. A Rosary will be prayed at 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2019, at the Hooverson Funeral Home, 251 Water St., Sauk City. A visitation will follow until 7:00 p.m. that evening, and continue the morning of mass from 9:30 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. at the funeral home.
A special note of gratitude is extended to Dad’s loving caregivers from Agrace Hospice and Age at Home Care, and to Dr. Barclay Schultz for all these years of loving, respectful, comfortable care. Your “star patient” loved you and trusted you, implicitly. Thank you for always treating him with dignity and kindness.
Memorials can be sent to Badger Honor Flight, P.O. Box 258066, Madison, WI 53725.
Online condolences may be made at hooversonfuneralhomes.com.