Chester Joseph "Chet" BOULRIS, M.D., 73, of Needham, MA, a retired Ophthalmologist, died on Sunday, June 20, 2010, at his home of complications following several strokes.
Until suffering a heart attack and a massive stroke in August 2001, he maintained offices at Hawthorne Place, Charles River Park, Boston, and in Yarmouth on Cape Cod. As multiple strokes affected his physical being, Dr. Boulris never complained about the increasing restrictions on his life. "He embodied strength and determination," said his wife. Son Mark added, "A defining event was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harvard Stadium. Hall of Fame members were to come to midfield at half-time for recognition during a football game. Dad practiced for weeks walking on our lawn so he would make it from the sideline to the center of the field on that day. He did it. With his walker, he walked slowly from his wheelchair at the sideline straight out to midfield on the 50-yard line, joining the group assembled just as introductions were completed. There were some very poignant minutes as he struggled to get out onto the field, where he had set records in the past and been such an outstanding and honored player.
Chet Boulris was born on January 15, 1937, in New Haven, CT, son of the late Irene Bryant and Joseph Rosaire Boulris. The family later moved to Springfield, MA. For Chet Boulris, athletic achievements were the highlights of many years of his life; and he never forgot the lessons learned from them. His outstanding athletic career extended from high school through college.
As captain, he led the Springfield MA Technical High School football team to the Western MA High School Championship and twice was named to the High School All-American Football Team. He was also a stand-out in baseball. A member of the Deerfield Academy Class of 1956, he led the football team to an undefeated season. A member of the Harvard College Class of 1960, he turned down offers to play both professional football and baseball.
Back at Harvard early in September for football practice during his last year of playing, he and other members of the varsity team crashed a mixer at Memorial Hall for Radcliffe and Harvard freshmen. Chaperoning the event was a young woman from Illinois, Carol Johnson, Radcliffe junior, whom he approached to ask a silly question because he was not wearing his glasses and could not see her from afar. They were married the following September.
While at Harvard, Chet Boulris was an exceptional athlete. He was named to the Coaches' All-Ivy League Team in every year that he played varsity football (1957,1958,1959) and was honored by selection to the Ivy League Football Team of the Decade 1950-1960. He was also named to the All-Academic Ivy League Football Team in 1959. In that year, the Gridiron Club of Boston presented him the Bulger Lowe Award as the Outstanding New England College Football Player and he received the Frederick Greeley Crocker Award as the Harvard Football Team's Most Valuable Player. Fifty years later, he still held the record for throwing the longest scoring pass in Harvard's long football history. He was named to the All-New England Football Team for two years and the All-East Football Team. Also in 1959 he received the Wendell Bat Award as the Most Proficient Batter on the Harvard Baseball Team (MVP), leading the team in homeruns and RBI's. This was the first time both the Crocker and Wendell Awards were presented in the same year to the same individual in 100 years of Harvard athletics.
A childhood bout of scarlet fever which kept him in bed for many weeks sparked his interest in becoming a doctor, in specific an ophthalmologist, because his eyes were affected by the illness. Following his Harvard years, he attended the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Class of 1966, and then served his medical internship at the University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington, VT, where his three children were born during those years.
At the completion of his medical internship, Dr. Boulris served for two years as a Captain in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. With his wife and young family, he moved to Sewart Air Force Base, Smyrna, TN, where he was assigned to the 839th Tactical (TAC) Hospital, a MASH unit of the USAF. He continued playing football for the base hospital team and told stories of sometimes taking opponents to his office to treat them for game-acquired injuries.
Following military service, Dr. Boulris served his ophthalmology residency at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary and was later a clinical instructor in ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and an associate surgeon at MEEI. He was a founding partner of the Boston Eye Surgery & Laser Center and the Cape Cod Eye Surgery & Laser Center.
On his retirement from medicine forced by the stroke in 2001, he was named to the MEEI Emeritus Staff. His athletic accomplishments were recognized when he was named to the Athletic Hall of Fame at Harvard University and to the first group inducted into the Springfield MA High Schools' Sports Hall of Fame. A golf enthusiast, he was a former member of the Oyster Harbors Club, Osterville, and of Brae Burn Country Club, West Newton. He was a past president of the Gridiron Club of Boston and a past member of the Harvard Club of Boston. He was a board-certified member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and a former member of the American Medical Association, the Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary Alumni Association, the University of Vermont College of Medicine Alumni Association and the New England Ophthalmological Society. Another of his hobbies was gardening.
He was a gifted and knowledgeable gardener whose efforts looked like illustrations for an horticultural magazine.
His survivors are his wife Carol, who was the business manager of his professional medical corporation for 23 years and to whom he would have been married for 50 years on September 10, 2010; two sons, Mark Johnson Boulris and his wife Amy Brigham Boulris of the Village of Palmetto Bay, FL, and Craig Mercer Boulris, M.D. and Jamie (Jing) Lee of Alamo, CA; and a daughter Loriel Elizabeth and her husband Robert I. Townsend III of Chappaqua, NY.
He had 9 beloved grandchildren to whom he was "Papa": Benjamin, Matthew, Meaghan and Nicholas Townsend of NY; Jacqueline, Nicole, Caroline and Sara Boulris of FL; and Angelia Boulris of CA; a sister, Joy Ann McMillan of Austin TX; and an aunt, Shirley Kligerman of Port Charlotte, FL ; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
A family memorial service will be held at a future date. Donations in memory of Dr. Boulris may be sent to: The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, New England Chapter, 280 Hillside Avenue, Needham, MA 02494; or to Massachusetts Special Olympics, Yawkey Sports Training Center, 512 Forest Street, Marlborough, MA 01752. To leave a note of condolence or to share a memory of Dr. Boulris please visit www.eatonfuneralhomes.com Eaton Funeral Home 781-444-0201