ELIZABETHTOWN — Teachers, staff and students at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School are mourning the loss of longtime science educator, tennis coach and outdoor enthusiast Rebecca L. “Becky” Bosley.
Known for 18 years by thousands of middle and high school kids as “Mrs. Bosley,” she died Jan. 3 after a courageous battle with cancer.
A resident of Elizabethtown, she was 58.
Bosley helped spearhead Environmental Club activities at ELCS for many years and helped lead students to participate in science related competition at the North Adirondack Regional Envirothon at Paul Smith’s College and participate in the Youth Climate Summit held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. She also coached junior varsity volleyball and varsity tennis.
Bosely retired last August, at the end of the 2015-16 school year, and attended a school celebration on Dec. 9 when the community honored her many years as a science teacher and extracurricular sports and club leader.
An evergreen spruce tree was planted in the outdoor classroom on school grounds to memorialize her career here.
Superintendent Scott Osborne delivered news of her passing to staff and students in person on Jan. 3.
“Becky’s passion for science was unmatched, often using her knowledge of science to bring awareness of the Adirondacks to our students, and promoting the rich nature around us,” Osborne told the Sun.
“Becky had a keen sense of humor, and was regarded as somewhat of a ‘trickster.’ We will miss her immensely, but we are inspired by her dedication to her craft.”
The school learned of Bosley’s passing around 7:30 a.m. the day of return from holiday break.
“We convened our crisis intervention team to help frame the district’s response plan,” Osborne said.
“Mr. (Robert) Witkiewicz (the school principal) and I met with students in grades 7 through 12, face-to-face, to deliver the news of Mrs. Bosley’s passing. By mid-day, students were informed.”
The school then sent a letter home to parents.
“Students and employees were offered counseling and additional time to speak with someone, on a case-by-case basis,” Osborne said.
The school board honored Bosley’s life and work with a moment of silence at the Jan. 10 meeting, he said.
Students reflected on their loss via social media posts, remembering an educator who made a difference in their lives.
Others shared a message Bosley sent individually at the end of November, a final note from a teacher to many former students.
“I hope life holds few challenges for you and lots of good adventures with friends and family and lots of laughter,” Mrs. Bosley wrote in the messages.
“Feed birds whenever you can.”
Her family fondly recalled Bosley’s appreciation for the outdoors, noting in her obituary how she could recognize bird songs of 60 different species.
“She hiked in her forties, climbing six of the Adirondack High Peaks (“Forget the other forty,” she’d say). She kayaked in her fifties, mostly with the “Diet Coke” Gang. She enjoyed photography as a hobby. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution,” the formal obituary says.
Osborne said the school’s flag will fly at half-staff in her honor indefinitely.
The science educator graduated from Saranac Central Schools as Valedictorian and was a consultant to the state Education Department.
Bosely is survived by her parents, Richard and Eleanor Stowe; her sisters, Linda Danzell (Hank Ingles), Cheryl (Jim) Yoars, and Marcia (Tim) Jacobi; her sons, Marc (Ann), Charles (Jennifer), Matthew (Sarah) and James; her grandchildren, Amy, Julie, Kathryn, Patrick, Sophia, Phoebe, Isaac and Christopher.
Arrangements are in the care of the Hamilton Funeral Home in Peru.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Jan.14 at the First Congregational Church of Lewis.
Family and community members are working to establish the Rebecca Bosley Memorial Scholarship Fund.