CHARLEVOIX — Charlevoix's own daughter, Marilyn M. Boss, left the community with wonderful, lasting memories when she died last month.
Boss lived in Charlevoix for all of her 80 years, born on the day her grandfather Floyd Ikens was elected sheriff in Charlevoix County. She grew up and graduated from Charlevoix High School in 1950, then married her childhood sweetheart, Dale E. Boss, in June the next year. They built their first home together at North Point in Charlevoix.
Marilyn Boss also charmed the community year after year by sewing unique Halloween costumes for her children, as well as matching dresses for her daughters and herself for church on Easter Sunday. Just about everyone in town knew her, as well as how much she and Dale loved to cruise around in their classic red 1973 Cadillac convertible. And even the windy ride wouldn't deter her from placing her signature bow in her blonde hair.
"If anybody was dedicated to Charlevoix, it was Marilyn," said Dave Miles, of the Charlevoix Historical Society.
Marilyn Boss served as the organization's president for three terms and also wrote articles titled "Scrapbook" for the Charlevoix Courier, taking on topics of local historical interest and community events. She took pride in her community and worked to preserve its place in time.
"What Marilyn did that was so valuable to us was in 1985 she started clipping the Charlevoix Courier and kept anything historically relevant in binders. She did that for more than 20 years," Miles said. "That really is a legacy she left us."
But perhaps Marilyn Boss is best known for her connection to Charlevoix's famed petunias. Some even called her Mrs. Petunia, as a nickname. She volunteered with the city's Operation Petunia program for 19 years, rising at 4 a.m. to help water the city's well-known five-mile-long floral display. She even used her artistic talent to create the petunia license plates as a fundraiser for the Keep Charlevoix Beautiful effort.
Another of Marilyn Boss' annual rituals which the community looked for each December involved her elaborate Christmas display. Indoors became Santa's Workshop and she decorated more than 30 Christmas trees, along with other festive displays of toys and animated stuffed animals. It's that tradition her family intends to embrace with the community this weekend.
"We are having a Christmas themed open house for Mom this Saturday (Oct. 5) evening starting at 7 p.m. Mom's entire fabulous Christmas scene will be lit at approximately 7:30 p.m.," said Bo Boss, Marilyn's son. "A typical Christmas Eve draws approximately 2,000-3,000 people from all over the North."
It's a fitting way to memorialize the lady who cared so much for Charlevoix, and who also meant so much to Charlevoix herself.
"The family is inviting everyone to come out to the Boss Christmas House to celebrate her life," Bo Boss said. "The family is also challenging anyone who has enjoyed Mom's Christmas scene to light up a string of lights in their own yard on (Saturday) Oct. 5."
The Boss home is at 9336 Pearl St. at North Point in Charlevoix.
Memorial contributions may be made to Keep Charlevoix Beautiful to continue the petunia legacy, or to the Charlevoix Historical Society to continue local history preservation. Send donations to the Keep Charlevoix Beautiful at P.O. Box 1, Charlevoix, MI 49720; or to the Charlevoix Historical Society, 103 State St., Charlevoix, MI 49720.