My siblings, Randy, Loren, Dee Anne, Denise and me, Doug, are fifth generation Bozarths of Mclean County, Bloomington Illinois. Mclean is the largest County in Illinois and is noted for being one of the most productive agricultural areas in the United States. If you ever visit, you will see miles and miles of soybean fields and never ending rows of very tall corn. Bloomington is also noted as a strong banking and business community, the corporate home of State Farm Insurance, two Universities and a Bozarth favorite, home of the original Steak and Shake. Our ranch style home was located at a T-in the road, at Lincoln and Hershey Roads. There are many Bozarth stories to tell from our growing up days in Bloomington, but you better just ask Loren about that. During High School, Randy was an outstanding baseball pitcher and during the summer played on a community baseball team which included only the best players of the area. Two of his teammates went on to play at the professional level. Along with baseball, Randy also played Varsity basketball. Being 6' 3" and maybe at most, a whopping 165 pounds, put him playing with the big guys at the post or the center position.
It's been a difficult journey walking through this disease of dementia with my oldest brother, Randy, but this is how I'll always remember him. Champaign Central High School came to Bloomington to play a conference game. They had a player named Clyde Porter, an Illinois All State Player, highly recruited by many colleges to join their team. Clyde was around 6' 8-10 inches tall, and well over 200 pounds. I am sure he was a very nice kid, but he looked mean...very mean. He was 17 but looked 30, and yes, Randy was assigned to guard Clyde. I am sure coach Wood gave Randy a little pep talk... "Randy just do the best you can, just contain that big guy. We know he will get his 20 plus points and 10 plus rebounds, but we don't want him to get any more. Don't let him dominate this game tonight. Let him know that you showed up for the game and that you came to play. Push on him, lean in on him, make him respect you!..Randy! Randy! Gooooo get him." As this happened around 50 years ago I don't recall which team won or lost, or the stats of the game (I personally choose to believe that my big brother's team won). I do know that Randy did more than contain that big guy...he shut him down. "Big Clyde" had a horrible game.
Randy was always up to accepting any challenge or adversity that came his way. He was never one to look for a fight, but never one to back down from one either. As was demonstrated that night, our opponents may be bigger, stronger and favored to win the game, but it doesn't mean that they will win. Half of the battle is showing up for the game, and when the game starts, push on, lean in and let the adversary know you came to play. -Doug Bozarth