Joseph A. Boulay, veteran Boston Whaler boat dealer, dies

Joseph A. Boulay Sr., a veteran dealer of Boston Whaler powerboats in the Chesapeake region, died Oct. 15 of heart disease at his home in Palm Harbor, Fla. The former Severna Park resident was 89.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Ellamont Avenue, he was the son of Raymond J. Boulay, an official of the old Commonweath Bank, and Josie Peters.

He attended Our Lady of Lourdes School and was a 1946 graduate of Loyola High School.

Mr. Boulay received a bachelor’s degree from what is now Loyola University Maryland. He was was an athlete and competed in ice hockey at the old Sports Centre on North Avenue. He also wrestled and played soccer, and was frequently mentioned in The Baltimore Sun’s sports pages.

He married Dorothea Kammerer, and while on their honeymoon he was a drafted into military service. He served in the Army and was stationed stateside.

He became the used-car manager for the old Howard W. Ford agency on Liberty Heights Avenue and Jerry’s Govans Chevrolet.

Mr. Boulay was considering opening his own auto dealership when he accepted an offer from his father-in-law, William Kammerer, to join him at his boatyard on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, on Insulator Drive near the old Arundel Boat Club.

Mr. Boulay later bought the business and in 1963 moved it to Brooklyn Park off Ritchie Highway. He was the Chris-Craft marine engine and parts distributor for five states.

“It was the perfect time to move,” said his wife. “The marine business really took off with boating trailers. My husband said boats on wheels were the coming thing.”

He called the Ritchie Highway business Baltimore Chris-Craft Sales, but would soon embrace another type of craft: the popular Boston Whaler.

“After living in Lutherville, we moved to the Linstead section of Severna Park when my brother Bill began going to the Naval Academy,” said a son, Richard “Rick” Boulay Sr. of Queenstown. “A neighbor, a physician from New England, asked my father if he could get him a new Boston Whaler. We did, and we’ve sold more than 3,000 new Whalers and many more used.”

His son recalled an early family trip to a Chicago boat show.

“My mother said, ‘Let’s look at the Whaler display. It obviously has great customer loyalty.’ Before long, my father took on Whalers and never looked back,” said Richard Boulay.

He said his father kept on his desk the receipt for the first Whaler he sold. It is dated April 6, 1973, and the cost was $3,489.

Mr. Boulay became a Boston Whaler dealer and soon opened a second boatyard in Annapolis, the Annapolis Whalertown. The business, which remains in the family, is now called Chesapeake Whalertowne and is located in Grasonville.

“My father was an excellent showman and knew how to present a product,” said his son. “Even when he sold parts, he would dress in a blazer, tie, khakis and Topsider leather oxfords

“During a a downturn in the economy, when new boats were not selling well, he embraced good service for existing boats,” he said. “During the 1974 gasoline shortage crisis, he told a customer he’d buy his boat back if he couldn’t locate gas to operate it.”

Mr. Boulay regularly displayed his boats at the Annapolis boat show. He served on the Board of Governors of the Baltimore Yacht Club and was also a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club.

He was also a past president of the Maryland Marine Dealers and Brokers Association.

Mr. Boulay was a member of the Loyola University Jenkins Society and Golden Greyhound Club. He belonged to the Greater Baltimore Committee, served on an advisory board of Baltimore City Public Schools and was a director of the National Soap Box Derby.

He was an original box seat holder for the 1954 Baltimore Orioles games played at old Memorial Stadium. He also had a Memorial Stadium box for Baltimore Colts games.

He was a past member of the US Power Squadron and other fraternal and civic organizations

After moving to Florida more than 30 years ago, he served as mayor of Highland Beach from 1989 to 1993. He later moved to Palm Harbor.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 3 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Alumni Memorial Chapel at Loyola University Maryland, 4501 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife of 66 years, who worked with him in the maritime business, and his son, survivors include two other sons, William Boulay of Ellicott City and Dr. Joseph Boulay Jr. of St. Petersburg, Fla.; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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