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1929 Daniel 2022

Daniel Boles

April 1, 1929 — January 30, 2022

BOLES, Daniel

April 1, 1929 - January 30, 2022


We are saddened to announce the death of Daniel Boles at the age of 92, beloved father/father-in-law to Julia/John, Esther/Yoni, Ruben/Rita and Aaron; grandfather to Antar/Meche, Danae, Jamie, Priya and Shalini; and great-grandfather to Sei & Enapae. He will also be missed by his former wife Heidrun Boles and his surviving twin brother, Dick Boles. He was predeceased by his parents, Julia and Albert Boles, and his siblings, Mary Jane, John and Roger.

Dan was born in Oakland, California into a lively, close-knit intergenerational household. He majored in Design at Stanford University, studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, and received his Masters in Visual Arts from Tulane University in New Orleans. Before embarking on a Fulbright Scholarship to study sculpture in Germany, he spent two years with the US Navy stationed in Japan. Eventually, Dan became a professor in the Visual Arts Department at the University of Windsor, and for 27 years he inspired countless students there. After his retirement, Dan visited India and China for varying lengths of time, often volunteering as an art teacher, and afterwards resided in Mexico for seven years. He spent the final nine years of his life in Ottawa. A great observer of the world and all the beauty which it possesses, in whatever form it comes in, he lived his life fully and widely, with great curiosity and enjoyment.

The family extends a special thanks to Lisa Pollard for providing Dan with companionship and care. They would also like to thank the many personal support workers and other staff who supported Dan during his later years in Ottawa, including through programs from Ottawa West Community Support and the Carefor Guest House & Carling Day Program. The family thanks the health care workers at the Peter D. Clark Long-term Care Home who cared for Dan since 2019.

Dan Boles and the Art of Living

Dan Boles was the embodiment of California, the Golden State, where he was born in Oakland in April 1929, just months before the stock market crashed and plunged America, and the world, into the Great Depression. He was fortunate to be spared the worst hardships of those years. His father, Albert, was a successful physician and along with his mother, Julie, they maintained a stable household for Dan, his older sister Mary Jane, and his three brothers, Roger, John and Dick (who was also his fraternal twin). Rounding out the household were Dan’s grandparents, and he developed a close bond with his Grandma Ida, who took a shine to his inquisitive, sensitive personality. Ida’s skills in the kitchen likely cultivated Dan’s sweet tooth, which he kept his entire life – it was rare he would turn down a pastry or ice cream for dessert.

Dan’s youth was filled with adventure and he cultivated an abiding love of nature and the outdoors through the Boy Scouts, which took him to Yosemite National Park and many other spectacular settings that those living in California are lucky enough to have nearby.  He also enjoyed music and singing; he stood out in the local church choir on Sundays.

After high school, Dan enrolled in Stanford University, intending to study pre-med and follow in Albert’s footsteps as a doctor, but the allure of the art world was too strong. He soon switched to design and embarked on a career that sharpened a sense of aesthetics that he would later impart on generations of students.

The Boles family had an ingrained sense of patriotic service, and like his father and brothers, Dan enlisted in the armed forces, joining the US Navy for two years and serving as an officer in Japan after World War II. As someone who already had a keen eye for the arts, his time in Japan ignited every one of Dan’s senses and he plunged with great vigor into studying everything he could about the country, including learning to speak Japanese.

When it was time to take up his studies again, Dan traveled east to Louisiana where he earned a Master of Fine Art at Tulane University in New Orleans. There, he also witnessed the struggles of the Civil Rights movement during a turbulent era in the Deep South and it stirred in him an enduring sense of social justice that he carried throughout his life.

By this point, his creative talents were apparent to all, and Dan qualified for a Fulbright Scholarship that took him to Europe for post-graduate studies. It was while attending an academy in Germany that Dan met his wife, Heie, and they soon had a lively family of two daughters, Julia and Esther, and a son, Ruben.

In the late 1960s Canada was transforming from a largely resource-based, rural nation into a progressive country that strived to be prominent on the world stage. Central to that goal was an acknowledgement by Canada’s leaders that a quality post-secondary education system must be built. It was this national vision that created a job opportunity at the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Visual Arts, and Dan accepted a position there in 1969.

The move to Canada brought a new child into the Boles family – Aaron, who was adopted in 1970. The four children and their parents would spend the next decade living in on a farm in the rolling countryside near Amherstburg, a small historic town a short drive from Windsor, but miles away from the cacophony and din of urban life. There, while the children scrambled in the woods and Heie tended her vegetable patch, Dan fully indulged his fascination with gardening, planting a jamboree of flowers, shrubs, groundcovers and trees throughout the property. He even built his version of a Roman bath using limestone pulled from the fields. Dan was active on a local architecture preservation committee and became involved in Amherstburg’s Black history museum, in recognition of Aaron’s Black heritage.

Of course, Dan’s daily focus was his role as a professor, teaching sculpture and design to students from all over the world, to whom he imparted his classical sensibilities of form, materials and artisanship. Dan was a patient educator and indispensable mentor long after many of his pupils had graduated and gone out into the world. In his free time, he delved into painting and pottery, but always returned to sculpture. Over the years, Dan made enchanting busts of his children and those of other family and friends. These portraits would later comprise a featured solo exhibition in the Children’s Gallery of the Art Gallery of Windsor.

In his retirement, Dan continued to pursue his passions. He enjoyed playing his vintage player grand piano and wind instruments, including a collection of wooden recorders and a Japanese flute he learned to master during his time in the navy. Neighbours strolling past his house on summer nights would hear Bach drifting through the open windows into the warm evening air.

Dan traveled to India many times and volunteered there as a teacher in a school for disadvantaged kids. Through an academic exchange established by the University of Windsor, he spent a year teaching in Changchun, China. He also took up landscape drawing and spent hours sketching forests and wetlands along the Detroit River. In other words, Dan spent his twilight years discovering new ways to create and be inspired, because he knew that without art life would be a mistake.

Dan Boles was an American, through and through. At a time when many look with trepidation toward the US and see it through a fearful lens, Dan’s life serves as a compelling reminder that a large and quiet majority of its people are kind, generous, open to the world and imbued with an optimistic, confident belief that honest work, creativity and decency toward others are the foundations of true fulfillment. It’s how Dan lived, it’s the spirit he passed on to his children, and it’s how he will be forever remembered.

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