As a kid growing up in Mahopac, N.Y., there were a handful of adults who—often inadvertently—taught me lessons that have lasted well into my 40s. From Vinnie Gargano, I was gifted with the ability to understand the intricacies of baseball. From Dottie Miller, I picked up warmth and compassion. From Robert Walker, I got the power of a strong whistle.
And from John Bohrman, I learned what it meant to be an involved public servant.
Mr. Bohrman was the dad of Darren Bohrman, a kid in my grade with ridiculous athleticism and a killer jump shot. He also served as my first-ever youth basketball coach. And he was, truly, an amazing one. Warm. Decent. Engaged. Fair. Although few of us were at Darren’s level, his dad made certain to give us all equal time and high-quality instruction. I remember him never yelling or berating. It was all about picking things up. About educating.
Years later, when Darren and I were older, Mr. Bohrman ran something called the MSA (Mahopac Sports Association) High School Basketball League. Basically, it was a league for those of us who either chose not to play for the school team (Darren) or weren’t good enough for the school team (me). And it was—in a word—awesome. For three years, I was a member of the Runnin’ Jeffies (admittedly, I named us), a squad made up of Scott Choy, Steve Celli, Jonathan Powell, Matt Heywood, Peter Nesbitt and a handful of other guys. Once per week, games were held in the gymnasium, and they were competitive and feisty and often fantastic. Friends during the day turned to combatants at night. It wasn’t great basketball, but it was great.
Two of Mr. Bohrman’s sons worked as officials, and Mr. Bohrman reigned as, well, a quasi-commissioner of all. He attended every game, scored many of them, resolved disputes, created the schedule. On and on and on. And why? Because he was a good man. A great man. A community-driven man who craved not glory or credit, but aiding the town the best he could.
Truly, I can’t state this loudly enough: This country needs more people like John Bohrman. Legitimate servants of the greater good. Caretakers of our youngsters. Guardians of decency.
Sadly, I learned a few moments ago that Mr. Bohrman passed of a heart attack.
I have not seen him in well over two decades.
Yet I feel as if I’ve lost someone special.