A handful of us from CPTC met up in Chestnut Ridge for Dave Bosch’s memorial on Saturday, and we wanted to share the experience with those who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it, and also to share a little of who Dave was with those who didn’t know him. A longtime member of CPTC, Dave passed away Wednesday evening after suffering a stroke while swimming in Coney Island on Sunday. He was 50.
By 4:00, the clouds and chill of the day had given way to a pristine spring afternoon, and the setting couldn’t have been more peaceful. The memorial was held at a conference and performance space called Threefold Auditorium, a stunning, 200-seat octagonal building dating to 1949.
Each of the 200 seats was filled with family and friends of Dave; more people sat on folding chairs around the edges of the main room. Plenty more stood. Dave was a popular man.
The hour-long program was set up as a chronological retelling of Dave’s life by those who knew him best, starting with Dave’s father, Will, and then his brother Darren, his friends from grammar school Andy and Jeff, three of his rowing teammates from Brown, and finally, his friend Seth from the Coney Island Polar Bears swim club and his girlfriend, Tanya. In between were chamber orchestra pieces by Haydn and Bach, performed by Dave’s siblings and friends.
No matter when each of the speakers knew Dave best, their memories all overlapped to reveal that Dave was the same guy since before he was in kindergarten: driven to excel but never boastful about his accomplishments; eager to make friends, bring people together, and put others at ease; tireless in his work and his athletics; and of course, always up for a party at the end of a hard week.
Will Bosch told us that Dave, forever committed to helping others, decided to donate his organs, and so his heart is now beating in the chest of someone else, who can’t possibly know the turbo-charged engine he just received. But those of us who knew Dave knew that engine well. Anybody who ever trailed Dave in one of his hard-charging track workouts would have chuckled – we did – as, one by one, the speakers revealed just how far back his dogged persistence stretched. From endless summer days of baseball cajoling little brother Darren to play just one more inning, to his walking onto the Brown crew team despite having never rowed before, to his painstaking assembly of drying racks for 12,000 plants of organic garlic grown on the farm his dad bought in retirement, what emerged was a portrait of a life well and fully lived, if only for a painfully short time. And, as those who’d gathered were cautioned more than once, “Dave would hate this,” because he never, ever made it about himself.
Dave went to Brown University, was a Peace Corp volunteer in the Cape Verde Islands for two years, got his MBA at Yale, spent many years in an executive role at the MTA, and most recently, was the director of commercial planning and development at Amtrak.
But, as one of Dave’s friends pointed out, despite working 15-hour days, he always made time for his two biggest passions: sport and those he loved. He ran more than a dozen marathons, with a 2:48 PR; participated in open-water-swimming races in China, Turkey, and other distant locales; and in 2015, at age 48, completed the 700-mile Paris-Brest-Paris bike race in just 71 hours and 39 minutes, on almost no sleep. And still, if you invited Dave to a party, or a concert, or a dinner, nine times out of 10, he’d be there, never showing an ounce of fatigue, no matter how inconvenient the location was from his home in Sunnyside, Queens. And he always took public transportation — or biked.
Dave had to quit running a few years back due to a slipped disc, so many newer CPTC members may have never met him. But he didn’t allow that to dampen his competitive spirit. As David Greenberg noted after Dave passed: “My favorite memory of Dave was actually after he had to stop running — he talked about his injury with obvious regret, but then when he started describing the swimming he was doing, his eyes lit up. He was able to walk away from something he loved, and instead of being sad about it, went out and found something else to be passionate about. Sounds easy but it isn’t.”
As runners, each of us knows that all too well. But if you’re lucky, you get to meet a guy like Dave Bosch, who would tell you that when the door to something you love closes, don’t just stand there. Find another door that’s open, and be prepared to love what’s on the other side.
We’ll miss you, Dave. And thank you for reminding us to always look for those open doors.
By David Alm and Chris Donnelly