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Remembering Charlie Boswell

Posted on: October 26, 2017

The College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management family mourns the passing of Charles Boswell. Charles, known as Charlie to his many friends, passed away Sept. 12 at the age of 71. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from the University of South Carolina. After beginning his career as a hotel manager, he returned to his alma mater to teach and went on to become assistant chairman of UofSC’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, where he served as an instructor and student advisor for 25 years before retiring. We asked two of his closest friends in the UofSC community to share their memories as we honor his legacy of service to the University and College. His years of service are everlasting in the programs he helped build and the students he mentored.

Charles Partlow, professor, UofSC College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

I always called Charlie CB, because my first name is also Charlie. You can’t have two Charlies in the same department. He never objected.

I worked with CB from 1990 until he retired. I was the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management School (HRTM) director from 2004-2010, and CB was the assistant director and internship coordinator. HRTM looked very different back then compared to today. CB was an outstanding administrator — extremely efficient with paperwork and policy/procedures. He kept very organized and detailed records, probably a skill he brought with him from his days as GM in the hotel field.

Our first director, Mel Barrington, along with CB, were the founding fathers of HRTM so to speak. Mel would probably say that without Charlie, HRTM would have closed up shop years ago. Charlie had the organization skills that Mel lacked, but Mel had the leadership skills — CB was the consummate manager.

The thing I remember most about CB was his sense of humor. I can’t describe it as well as some others you talk to, but it was kind of sarcastic criticisms, but never cruel. We all knew it was just his sense of humor and everyone accepted it. CB was loved by many of us in HRTM who worked with him.

The one thing that CB and I had in common was our love for suspense novels (fiction). CB was always reading a book — sometimes two at the same time. He was definitely a word kink — he knew how to spell any word and he also knew practically any definition. He always checked them out from the library (CB would never pay for a book). He kept a list of favorite authors and book titles, and he and I would share our own favorite authors or titles from time to time. In fact, I was telling his wife, Betty, about a new book I recently read and wanted to tell CB about, and that was at his funeral. Sadly, I don’t have anyone to share this with anymore.

Stephanie Bradley, former HRTM academic advsior

Charlie was so much like my father (who passed away almost 15 years ago). Though he went by “Charlie,” he was always “Boswell” to me. And though all of my friends and family knew of him as “Boswell,” I usually called him Charlie when with him.

I worked with Boswell for more than a year, sitting right by his side to learn the craft of student advising. He taught me so much. It was a little scary to learn that we organized ourselves exactly the same. We prioritized our duties in virtually the same way. We carried out our tasks in virtually the same way. I held Charlie in very high regard. He was an awesome mentor.

After Boswell retired, we had a standing lunch date every week. His lovely wife, Betty, is a dear friend and usually joined us on our lunch dates. During our lunches together, we’d reminisce about old times, and he’d share stories with me from years past. Charlie loved to read, and over lunch, would often recommend authors to me. He made regular visits to the Richland County library on Assembly Street: it was the best library in Columbia and he made sure that I knew that. Charlie’s favorite lunch places were Andy’s Delicatessen, Just Us Café, Zesto’s and Oceanview Seafood Restaurant.

I held Charlie in very high regard. He was an awesome mentor.

—Stephanie Bradley, long-time colleague and friend

Boswell also enjoyed watching TV. We enjoyed bantering about the show “Dancing with the Stars.” Charlie watched it, I didn’t, and we had lots of laughs about that. He insisted that I know who was winning, who got kicked off, etc.

Charlie loved sports cars, and had a Chevy Corvette for a while. Traveling to and from lunch was quite the experience with Charlie driving. He enjoyed “talking” in a loud voice to other drivers and he wanted desperately to “teach” most of them how to drive. He loved to use his horn as a teaching tool. He was so very excited when I told him in July that I may be purchasing a convertible Corvette. He called, texted and wanted to know if I had bought it. He wanted pictures of it, and as soon as possible, wanted me to bring it by his house so he and Betty could giggle over it. Of course, I was only too happy to oblige. Charlie had to take his turn at the wheel, and I just had to take Betty for a spin! It was one of the highlights of my time with them both. 

He was brisk at times, but he was genuine. He didn’t mince words. You knew exactly where you stood with him. I’m going to miss that “grumpy old fart” as I frequently referred to him. He made me smile. He made lots of us smile.

Surviving Charlie are his wife of 43 years, Betty G. Boswell; his mother, Frances Smith Boswell; a son, Charles E. Boswell, IV (Susan); two daughters, Lauren Boswell Stevens (Emile) and Stephanie Boswell Gray (Andrew); as well as four grandchildren: Madison Leigh Boswell, Charles E. Boswell, V, Evan Roark Stevens and Andrew Jason Gray, Jr.; also an uncle, Max Boswell, of San Diego, California, along with many nieces and nephews. His two loving Shetland Sheepdogs, Shadow and Shane will definitely miss him. Charlie’s family asks that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor him donate to either the American Heart Association, 190 Knox Abbott Drive, Cayce, SC 29033; or the National Kidney Foundation, 508 Hampton Street, Suite 200 Columbia, SC 29201.