Growing up on a small farm near Hatton, Don Boulware had one goal in life: playing professional football.
That didn't happen, but Boulware said, he's happy with his life's course. His life has had many twists and turns, none of which a young farm boy could have predicted. Now this native Callawegian is being honored at the 115th Kingdom of Callaway Supper for his achievements and a life's journey well-traveled.
"Don grew up in the Hatton area," said Bennie Young, the Kingdom of Callaway Supper president. "He's done a lot of good and won quite a few state titles. He's done so much good for coaching and the students."
As this year's supper president, Young was tasked with choosing the 2020 guest of honor. He said he's known Boulware for a long time, and Boulware came to mind immediately.
William Woods University will host the supper March 3 starting with a reception 5-6:30 p.m. at the Gladys Woods Kemper Art Center, dinner at Tucker Dining Hall from 7-7:45 p.m. and the program at Dulany Auditorium from 8-9:15 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at kingdomofcallawaysupper.com, the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, Callaway Bank, Central Bank and United Security Bank.
Boulware's life revolved around football when he was young.
"I was a huge Mizzou fan," he recalled. "But I got to the point where I realized that just wasn't going to happen."
After graduating from North Callaway High School in 1973, Boulware went to Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville (now Truman State), majoring in physical education and minoring in journalism. While in school,he did his student-teaching in Centralia, still close to home and his family: father Woodrow Wilson Boulware and mother Jalie. His older brother Mike and his family — wife Brenda, and their children Jody, Stephen and Troy — live nearby on their grandparents' old farm.
For his first job in 1977, he returned to Centralia to teach English and act as assistant freshman football coach. He stayed one year, then took a job as defensive coordinator for the football team at Valle Catholic High School near Ste. Genevieve. After three years there, he moved to Santa Fe High School in Alma to become head football coach. Two years later, he was back in Ste. Genevieve, this time as head coach at the public high school.
"We were playing against some of the same students I had at Valle. That was interesting," he said.
But Boulware knew he couldn't stay. After six years at the Ste. Genevieve public school, he realized it was time to move again — this time in search of a wife.
"A college recruiter came in one day from Ottawa College in Ottawa, Kansas, and offered me a job," Boulware recalled. "I took a $10,000 pay cut, but it was the right thing to do at the time. I was single, and money wasn't my biggest motivator. But I knew that if I was going to find a marriage partner, I needed to be in a little bigger community."
In Ottawa, he started out as offensive coordinator on the football team, coached men's and women's track and was a full-time professor of physical education. A year later, he continued with those duties and also served as athletic director.
Boulware's gamble paid off: During his time at Ottawa, he met his wife, Anna. To teach at a college level, he knew he needed a master's degree, so he drove to nearby University of Kansas.
"Forgive me, Mizzou fans," he joked.
After three years of college coaching, long hours of recruiting and lots of stress, he told Anna he thought he needed to return to high school coaching. He found a job opening in the small town of Lake City, Iowa, just northwest of Des Moines. The population was less than 2,000, but a sign on the road into town claimed it had "everything but a lake."
"We fell in love with the place," Boulware said. He had less stress and more time for his wife. This is where he and Anna began their family: twins Danielle and Alexandra and son Tyler Dane. Danielle is now a registered nurse, and Alexandra is studying pharmacology at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. They're 23 now. Tyler is 21 and is also at SIU majoring in accounting.
After nine years, Boulware was offered a job with Graphic Edge. The company in nearby Carroll, Iowa, was a leader in custom screen printing of athletic apparel. For that job, he and Anna moved to Moscow Mills and settled in.
"We built our dream house there, and we're never going to move," Boulware said.
Return to Callaway
Boulware was making much more than a high school coach could, but after 18 years of selling athletic apparel, he decided it was time for another career move.
Anna was secure with her job as an accounting professor at St. Charles Community College in St. Peters, so Boulware put some feelers out, and the result couldn't have pleased him more: North Callaway High School, his alma mater, needed a football coach.
It was right where he started.
"I missed being around my family, and it so all seems to make sense. So I pulled the trigger and came home," he said.
Boulware's father, Woodrow, will turn 102 later this month and lives at the Veteran's Home in Mexico.
"I have more reason than ever than to get back to Callaway County because of my dad and the fact that my brother Mike is battling cancer," Boulware added.
Although he commutes from Moscow Mills (66 miles one way), makes the drive gladly to give his students what he himself was given by his teachers and coaches.
Boulware said he learned much from the coaches who tutored him: Larry Nolte at Hatton-McCredie, Nelson Richter (his first football and track coach at North Callaway), and Coach Jim Blacklock, who followed Richter at North Callaway and was Boulware's coach his last three years of high school.
"Those three great men made a big impact on my life and ingrained a love of sports and competition," Boulware said. "Coach Blacklock in particular had a huge influence on me. I tried to model a lot of the things I did based on what he taught me, not just in sports but on everyday life lessons as well."
Those coaches inspired Boulware to pursue coaching.
"You touch a lot of lives doing this," he said. "Regardless of how many games you win or lose, the kids you coached and the students you taught will remember as much or more for how you treated them in addition to what you taught them."
Boulware also credits his "loving mother and father" and the surrounding community for teaching him "right from wrong, how to work towards goals, and how to enjoy life each and every day."
"My many great neighbors, friends, relatives, teachers and coaches enhanced those same life lessons and family values," Boulware said. "We weren't rich financially, but we certainly lived rich lives and seem to always have everything we really needed. I wouldn't trade the way I grew up on that small farm in northern Callaway County for anything. It's really nice to be back here now. It's a really special place with so many good people."