David Bosworth mourned

David Bosworth

GUILDERLAND — Long-time Democratic Committee Chairman David Bosworth changed the shape of politics in Guilderland, turning Democratic a town that had been controlled by the Republican Party and its forerunner for 150 years. He did it, say colleagues and friends, by finding, cultivating, and supporting good candidates whom he believed could win elections.

Mr. Bosworth died on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Albany Medical Hospital, “surrounded by family and friends after a long illness,” his family wrote in a tribute. He was 69.

Mr. Bosworth was born in Albany on Oct. 10, 1947 to the late David A. Bosworth Sr. and Betty Jane Cowen. He received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and continued his graduate studies at Russell Sage College and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Despite his indefatigable dedication to Democratic politics, he was primarily known to many as a “very charitable individual,” said Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber, referring to Bosworth’s 40-year career as executive director of Project Strive, which was more recently known as the Center for Family and Youth in Albany, where, Mr. Barber said, Mr. Bosworth “devoted his life to helping children at risk.”

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of families whose lives he touched, said Mr. Barber.

Mickey Cleary, who serves on Guilderland’s planning board, is another long-time friend and colleague; he and Mr. Bosworth eventually became co-committeemen in McKownville.  Mr. Cleary said that, at Project Strive, Mr. Bosworth “helped a lot of underprivileged children and families through the years.

“They would have counselors that would go to families,” Mr. Cleary said, “and after-school programs and food programs. They would have Adopt-a-Family at Christmastime. “It was all about the children and the families,” Mr. Cleary said of Mr. Bosworth’s dedication to the organization, where Mr. Bosworth’s wife, Eileen Ward Bosworth, worked.

“He loved Guilderland, and he loved the Democratic Party, and he worked hard to make both better,” said Mr. Cleary.

Mr. Bosworth was the chairman of the Guilderland Democratic Committee for about the last quarter century, until his death.

He was also active for many years in Albany County Democratic politics, and served for two years as co-chairman of the Albany County Democratic Committee. “David grew up in Albany during the years of Dan O’Connell and Erastus Corning and led the transformation of Albany Democratic Party politics in the years following their deaths,” Mr. Bosworth’s family wrote in a tribute.

“He was a trailblazer in the emergence, growth, and success of the Democratic Party in the  previous Republican Party strongholds of the towns of Guilderland, Colonie, and Bethlehem,” his family wrote. “Throughout his life, he worked tirelessly on behalf of Democratic Party candidates for public office at all levels of government, including the City and County of Albany, the Town of Guilderland, as well as candidates for state office, the New York State Courts, and U.S. Congress.”

In addition to Guilderland, Mr. Bosworth helped to turn the previous Republican strongholds of Colonie and Bethlehem Democratic. “His efforts and hard work led the Democrats to electoral victories in achieving town council majorities, as well as electing Democrats to supervisor positions in those towns,” his family wrote.

Donald Reeb, a professor emeritus at the University at Albany and president of the McKownville Improvement Association, describes Mr. Bosworth as “a person who wanted to get Guilderland in a more progressive mode — sidewalks, trees, parks, library, schools, and so forth.” He added, “He worked very hard to try to get it done.”

In recent years, Mr. Bosworth had served on the board of trustees of the Guilderland Public Library.

Mr. Bosworth succeeded in finding “very progressive candidates to run for the Democratic Party, and got them elected,” Dr. Reeb said. “I think, if it wasn’t for David, Guilderland and McKownville would be a much different-looking place,” he added.

One way that Mr. Bosworth got so much done, Dr. Reeb said, may have been that “his automobile was an office, in effect.” The trunk was filled with “stacks of election petitions, letters he had to answer, and so forth, all of it organized,” said Dr. Reeb. “If you asked him about a particular letter, he would reach right for it. He knew where everything was.”

Mr. Bosworth’s great accomplishment, Dr. Reeb said, was “his ability to find people who were progressive and who would be appealing to the electorate in Guilderland.”

“I’m actually very sad about it, I’ll be honest,” said Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy of Mr. Bosworth’s death. She represents the 109th District, which includes Guilderland, New Scotland, Bethlehem, and parts of Albany.

“He was a character and a half,” she added. “He had this wonderful ability to laugh at himself,” she recalled.

Perhaps most remarkable, she said, was how far ahead of his time he was in recognizing the importance of supporting women for public office.

He had nominated Guilderland Town Clerk Jean Cataldo for an award recently given by the Albany County Democratic Committee, known as Albany County Women of Distinction: Unsung Heroes, which Ms. Cataldo won. He had called Assemblywoman Fahy, she said, from his hospital bed at one point to talk excitedly with her about Ms. Cataldo’s nomination. He always spoke proudly about elected officials in Guilderland, Assemblywoman Fahy said, but especially Ms. Cataldo and Patricia Slavick.

“He always said, ‘We’ve got to get a woman on that board,’” said Ms. Slavick, a member since 2000 of Guilderland’s town board; she estimates that she had known Mr. Bosworth since about 1995, when they were both members of the Guilderland Democratic Committee, before he became the chairman.

“I’m sure he believed that women should be in political offices,” Ms. Slavick said.

Ms. Slavick noted that she spent two of her terms on the board serving together with Mr. Bosworth, and said, “He really liked being a town board member also, because you get to do so much for your community, and be engaged.”

Bryan Clenahan, an Albany County Legislator who represents the 30th District, said, “There were very few elected Democrats when he became chairman in the late 1990s. He was an outgoing guy, a big personality. We had a lot of good times working on town issues, working on political issues together. He was a fun guy to be around and to work with, but he was tireless.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Clenahan pointed out, “He was still chairman till he passed away yesterday. He really never stopped working.”

Mr. Bosworth became sick several years ago and spent long periods in the hospital. He came to rely on a wheelchair to get around, but had been able to return to work and would arrange public transportation to get to the town hall, said Mr. Barber. “He only missed meetings when he was in the hospital,” Mr. Barber said, referring to Mr. Bosworth’s service, over the last few years, on the town’s Environmental Conservation Advisory Board.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said he had met Mr. Bosworth in about 2010 and had hired him several years ago, initially to work as a court attendant in family court, and later at the department’s headquarters. Mr. Bosworth had fallen ill and been out for long periods but had “fought back,” Sheriff Apple said, and had been coming to work in his wheelchair, using public transportation when he suffered another setback.

“He will be missed,” said Sheriff Apple.

Dr. Reeb said, “I counted him as a friend and I very much admired him.”

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“David loved spending time with his family and friends, especially during holidays, and loved Guilderland, where he and his wife raised their family,” his family wrote in a tribute.

The family expresses their deep appreciation to the doctors and staff of the Albany Medical Center Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit for the compassionate support and care David received there, and to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and his deputies and staff.

Mr. Bosworth is survived by his wife of 41 years, Eileen Ward Bosworth, by his three children, Laurel York and her husband, Jeff, of Burlington, Connecticut, David A. Bosworth III and his wife, Lori Squillini, of Delmar; and Jennifer C. Bosworth of London, England. He is also survived by his sister, Pamela Clickner, and her husband, David, of Greer, South Carolina; his brother, Charles S. Bosworth, of Schenectady; three grandchildren, Benjamin York, Grace Bosworth, and David A. Bosworth IV; and many nieces and nephews.

Mr. Bosworth’s parents, David A. Bosworth Sr. and Betty Jane Cowen, died before him, as did his sister Marion Anne Bosworth.

Calling hours will be held on Sunday, April 23, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Hans Funeral Home at 1088 Western Ave. in Albany. Relatives and friends are invited.

Funeral services will be held at Hans Funeral Home on Monday, April 24, at a time to be determined, and from there to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, North Main Avenue at Western Avenue, Albany.

Interment will be in Memory Gardens in Colonie.  

Memorial contributions may be made to the Albany Medical Center Inpatient Physical Rehabilitation Unit, 47 New Scotland Ave., MC-79, Physicians Pavilion, Albany, NY 12208, or to the Guilderland Public Library, 2228 Western Ave., Guilderland, NY 12084. Mourners may leave messages of condolence for the family at www.HansFuneralHome.com.

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