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William Boarman, liquor store owner and Howard County youth ice hockey advocate, dies

WIlliam Boarman was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Howard County Youth Hockey Club.
WIlliam Boarman was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Howard County Youth Hockey Club.

William Claggett Boarman, a former liquor store owner who brought youth youth ice hockey to Howard County, died of multiple myeloma Feb. 20 at the Gilchrist Center in Columbia. The Ellicott City resident was 84.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Cranston Avenue, he was the son of Francis Claggett Boarman, who worked in food service sales, and his wife, Ruth McAllister Boarman. He attended St. Bernardine School and was a graduate of Calvert Hall College High School. He played ice hockey on the school team and competed in high school games at the old Carlin’s Park ice rink.

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As a young man, he had a newspaper route that included Mayor William Donald Schaefer as a customer.

In 1953 he was honored at a sports assembly ceremony at the school attended by Mayor Thomas J. D’Alesandro Jr. and Calvert Hall’s principal, Brother Gabriel Cecilian.

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Mr. Boarman competed against high school teams from City, Poly, Gilman, Loyola, Forest Park and other schools in a league whose wintertime games were well attended by spectators.

He earned a degree at Mount St. Mary’s University. While there, he met his future wife, Elizabeth Wedemeyer, a Mount St. Agnes student, at a dance.

Known as Mr. Bill, he became a salesman at the Eddie Jacobs men’s clothing store, then located on Redwood Street in downtown Baltimore.

“My father was always known as a sharp dresser,” said his son, Gerard Boarman of Ellicott City. “And long after leaving Eddie Jacobs, he returned to the store to buy his suits.”

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After leaving the clothing business he became a salesman for a Texas brewery, Pearl Brewing, and Ballantine Brewing of Newark, New Jersey. He then joined liquor distributor McCarthy Hicks and Churchill Distributors and made sales calls at liquor stores.

In 1986 he bought and operated Harper’s Choice Liquors in Columbia. In 1999 be began working alongside his three sons at their North Ridge Wine & Spirits, a family business in Ellicott City. He remained active at the store until the beginning of January.

He remembered his customers’ names and often gave them nicknames, “Buzz,” “Howdy” and “Rowdy.”

“He had the ability to connect with people, especially children,” his son said. “My father was a genius at creating promotional displays within the store. For about 35 years he built a Christmas garden with working trains and beer cars that our customers loved.

“He was our best employee because, as he would always say ‘I show up early and I don’t steal.’ ” his son said.

Mr. Boarman maintained an interest in ice hockey and decided to enlarge the sport in the Howard County Youth Hockey Club.

A 1979 Sun article said he took over the management of a Columbia-based program at an Oakland Mills ice rink when his oldest son turned 7 years old. The article called him “the father of hockey in Howard County.”

He said that he remained enthusiastic about the sport from his high school days “and didn’t get enough.”

In 1979 hockey participation had grown from 45 players to 280. He introduced skaters as young as 4 to the ice.

“They would go along, slide and fall down and cry, but they hung in there.”

In the 1979 article, Mr. Boarman credited the program’s success on a clean, well-equipped rink, where opposing players lined up before a game and were introduced before the playing of the national anthem.

Mr. Boarman said the league was instructional, fun and competitive.

“We are not too concerned with who wins,” he said. “It is more important that we develop our children. We will not tolerate a Little League syndrome.”

“He was instrumental in growing the sport of ice hockey in Howard County and the entire Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia region,” his son said. “He took a small group of 25 young hockey players and set the foundation for what the club has become today with over 500 players."

An annual sportsmanship award is named after Mr. Boarman.

“He was highly revered and set the standard for the club,” said Bud Buonato, the club’s current president. "He opened all the doors for us. We are stewards of what he started."

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. March 4 at the Church of the Resurrection, 3175 Paulskirk Drive in Ellicott City, where he was a member.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 55 years, a retired Baltimore County Schools teacher; two other sons, Steven Boarman and Bradley Boarman, both of Ellicott City; two sisters, Joan Stecher of Short Hills, New Jersey and Ruth Karpers of Reisterstown; and seven grandchildren.

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