ROSCOMMON – Gary Boushelle might not be a native of Roscommon, but since his arrival in 1976 he has made himself right at home.
“I was on the board of directors of what is now Mid-Michigan Health,” Boushelle said. “It was a community health center at the time. I was on their board for 30 years.”
And that is just one of the organizations he has become involved with. While not a founding member of the Roscommon Lion’s Club, Gary joined shortly after it was founded, and has been a member for over 40 years. He volunteered for the first Firemen’s Memorial Festival, helping to set up the 5K and 10K trail runs then and for many years afterwards.
He is active with the DNR Retirees Association and many wildlife organizations including Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the National Turkey Organization. He is also a member of the Roscommon VFW Men’s Auxiliary.
With a wall full of plaques honoring him for achievements, including a citation from Governor Millikin for saving a woman’s life, Gary is quick to share the credit.
“All the organizations I was with, it wasn’t a one-person operation. It was a group that I worked with that has to be included in consideration of any accomplishment,” he said.
Born in Detroit, Boushelle ended up in Roscommon in a round-about way. He spent his summers in the Upper Peninsula (UP), attended Suomi College (now Finlandia University) and graduated from Wayne State.
“After I got out of school, I had the desire to work for the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Conservation (DoC) at that time,” Boushelle said.
But they weren’t hiring.
“I did get a job with the U.S. Public Health Service. I worked in the V.D. branch (venereal disease) and syphilis eradication. I had worked in Detroit, I worked in Chicago, I worked at Minneapolis in syphilis eradication. It was an interesting job.
“I got a call one day wondering if I still was interested in working for the DNR. I got called in for an interview and there were probably about ten Department of Conservation wildlife people there. One after another it seemed like they kept questioning me to the point where I can’t answer, to see how I don’t answer a question. Finally, the division chief asked the last question. He says ‘Hey, I have one more question for you. What does your job that you’re doing have to do with what you want to do now?’
“I didn’t have a prayer of a chance of getting this job with the DoC so I said ‘What I’m doing now is really the original form of wildlife management.’
That got a laugh from the division chief, and the job for Boushelle.
Gary started with the DoC in 1965 with what he called a 4-year program.
“I worked four years in Plainwell, four years in Atlanta, four years in Lansing in the Regional field office.”
Boushelle hired on as a wildlife biologist, and over the years promoted to the Regional Wildlife Biologist for northern lower Michigan, covering 34 counties. By the time he retired in 1998, he had become the statewide Field Biologist, over the whole state of Michigan.
“I got involved with all the interesting projects in Michigan. Worked with bears, deer, ducks. I trapped ducks in Canada, Saskatchewan, it was a cooperative effort there – I represented Michigan. We had people from other states and Federal Fish & Wildlife service.
“Worked on the moose and elk.”
And as he is quick to share his community achievements, he is quick to share his work achievements.
“(There were) so many things,” he said, when asked what his greatest achievement was. “Working with people in natural resources. The respect they gave the department and us for the things we do. Everything was beautiful, very enjoyable.”
Even after retirement, Gary is still involved, setting up informal lunches for DNR retirees.
“Gary’s the whole inspiration behind that,” Sharon, his wife, said. “He keeps the whole thing going. He started it (the lunches) and he’s the one that sets it up every six weeks.”
That, along with other volunteering earned Gary a plaque for the Volunteer of the Year from the DNR Retirees Association.
Gary and Sharon still live in Roscommon, on the banks of the South Branch of the AuSable River. A fitting place to watch the wildlife he spent so many years managing.