Thursday, May 11, 2017

Vale Felix Bosshard

There can't be any discussion of Saab's presence in the United States without including one of its original and most influential dealers, Felix Bosshard, who founded Charles River Saab (originally Gaston Andrey Associates) in 1957 and owned it until 2000. Sadly, Felix passed away last week. He left two wonderful families: his own, plus the family he created--the staff and customers at Charles River Saab--and his charm, grace, intellect and wit will be missed by all.  His obituary follows.

BOSSHARD, Felix Passed away at home on May 5, 2017, in the presence of his loving family. 

He was born in 1931 in Rietbad, Switzerland, son of Gottlieb and Anna Bosshard. He grew up in the Rietbad Hotel, the family hotel, at the foot of the Saentis mountain.

He did his secondary education in public schools near his home, and then completed two apprenticeships, one as a General Mechanic and one as Auto Mechanic. He would have attained the title of Master Mechanic if he had taken the required final exam, but, it being a long motorcycle ride away he, on an impulse, didn't take it. Instead he went to the College of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering in London and did an Automotive Engineering course. He then held several positions in Switzerland, including one as a rotary engine mechanic. In 1955 he began looking for work abroad as a journeyman mechanic.

He saw an ad in a Swiss paper for an auto mechanic in a small garage in the US owned by another Swiss. He came to the US with that job offer in hand, and his own tools. His original intention was to travel around the world, but instead he found Anita Kath, who became his wife, and they stayed in the US. Felix rose in that small garage, through manager to partner to owner. He never looked for another job.

First he worked his way into a partnership position through his contributions as crew at motor races. By 1958 he was one of three partners of the company, and in full charge of Gaston Andrey Associates, Inc. (GAA) the Watertown shop. In 1980 the three partners separated and Felix became the full owner of GAA, first located on Watertown Street and then on Arsenal Street in Watertown. The company began doing business as Charles River SAAB in 1982.

Charles River SAAB (CRS) was a successful and well-respected business built on respect for the needs of both the customer and the employees, recognizing at the same time the need for the company itself to grow. Felix had an exceptionally loyal customer base and team of employees. Charles River SAAB was the oldest continuously operating SAAB dealership in the US (dealer code 0031). Felix earned for CRS the European Quality Assurance Standard ISO9002, a first for an American car dealership. Felix was President of the SAAB US National Dealer Council for six years.

A Unitarian Universalist since shortly after arriving in the US, Felix took on leadership responsibilities in the parishes he belonged to. He was chairman of the Building Committee of the Natick Unitarian Universalist (UU) church, and later Treasurer of the First Parish UU church of Sudbury. 

As a young man he played accordion, entertaining guests at his family's hotel, with his brother, on an as needed basis. His early interest in motors led him to rally driving, which earned him numerous trophies. He was a regular bridge player with good friends in the Sudbury/Marlborough area. He and Anita played bridge with the Sudbury Villagers. He had a passion for tennis, board games, ping pong, and improving the house and garden. He was Chairman of the Board of the Boston Classical Orchestra for ten years. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends for his intellect and pragmatic decision-making style, his cordiality and sense of fairness, and for his dry wit.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years Anita and their three daughters and six grandchildren. His daughters are Monica, Genevieve and Robin: Monica and David Bernstein of Arlington MA, with children Sally and Sam; Genevieve Bosshard and Roberto Garvia of Madrid Spain, with daughters Paloma and Azucena; and Robin and Nick DeMaso of Stevensville MD, with children Louis and Audrey. He is also survived by his niece in Scotia NY, Verena Takekoshi with husband Tohru and sons. He is survived as well by many relatives in Switzerland: a sister, Susi Egloff with husband Bruno, and a sister-in-law, Hanni Bosshard, as well as by many nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours will be held on Tuesday, May 9, from 3:00-7:00pm at Duckett- J. S. Waterman & Sons Home of Memorial Tribute, 656 Boston Post Rd. (RT 20), SUDBURY.

For those who would like to celebrate his life at a true memorial service, there will be a ceremony in August at The First Parish of Sudbury on a date to be announced. Friends are welcome at either or both events.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The First Parish of Sudbury, 327 Concord Road, Sudbury MA 01776. 

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