By Rich Pollack
HIGHLAND BEACH — As mayor of Highland Beach from 1989 to 1993, Joseph Boulay made it a point to have an open-door policy and to try his best to solve any problem residents brought to him.
“You could go to him with anything,” his wife, Dottie, said. “He was a go-to kind of guy.”
Following the conclusion of his second two-year term as mayor, Mr. Boulay and his wife moved to Florida’s west coast to be near family and were living in Palm Harbor when he died on Oct. 15. He was 89.
A well-respected boat dealer in the Baltimore area, Mr. Boulay and his wife moved to Highland Beach in 1984 and quickly fell in love with the town.
“He really cared about Highland Beach,” Dottie Boulay said.
After a stint on the town’s planning board, Mr. Boulay decide to run for mayor, bringing with him a promise of a welcome change in the town’s governance.
His willingness to listen and to be a part of the community helped him easily win a second term. The fact that he set up a card table on A1A and listened to residents walking by probably helped his campaign and his reputation as a mayor who would listen.
“He was very interested in everybody and he never said a mean word to anyone,” said his wife of 66 years. “He really wanted everyone to be happy.”
An active member and usher at St. Lucy Catholic Church in Highland Beach, Mr. Boulay was also an early proponent of building a reverse-osmosis water treatment plant so the town wouldn’t have to rely on neighboring communities for water service. The plant was built after he left office.
If there was a down side to his public service, his wife said, it was that his work on behalf of residents kept him away from something he loved to do — fishing.
“Once he got involved in the town, he couldn’t go fishing quite as often as he wanted to,” Dottie Boulay said.
A graduate of Loyola University Maryland in his hometown of Baltimore, Mr. Boulay early in his career worked in the auto retail industry before joining his father-in-law in the boat business. He later took over the business and was the distributor of Chris-Craft marine engines and parts for five states. In the 1970s, he became known for his success as an early retailer of Boston Whalers.
A member of the board of the National Soap Box Derby, Mr. Boulay was also active in many organizations while in Maryland. He was a past president of the Maryland Marine Dealers and Brokers Association and served on an advisory board of the Baltimore public schools.
He was also a devoted family man, proud of the couple’s three sons: Dr. Joseph Boulay Jr., of St. Petersburg; Richard Boulay, who took over the family boat business when his father retired; and retired Navy Cmdr. William Boulay.
In addition to his wife and sons, Mr. Boulay is survived by eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held on Nov. 11 at the Alumni Memorial Chapel at Loyola University Maryland.