Charles "Chuck" Bos's passion for fixing up his 19th-century Leesburg house led him to join the town's architectural review board in the 1970s. That got him thinking that he might be able to make a bigger difference in his beloved Loudoun County.
That sparked Bos's public service career and his vision for events that are now Loudoun traditions: August Court Days and the Bluemont Summer Concert Series.
Bos, a former member of the Leesburg Town Council and the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, died May 25 after a three-year struggle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 64.
"He truly loved the area," said his wife, Marilyn. "And he loved working with all the people."
Born in Tonawanda, N.Y., Bos was raised outside Cleveland and studied German at Oberlin College, where he met Marilyn. They married a few months before graduation in 1962, moved to Brentwood, Md., and Bos began a job as a technical writer at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory.
Bos enjoyed writing, his wife said, but he did not like government work. In his spare time, he tinkered with cars -- a hobby he had pursued since the Boses married, when he bought a Porsche that was among the first of 40 cars he would own over the years. After spending an entire vacation working on cars, Bos quit his job in 1965 to take up auto repair as a profession. For a decade starting in 1968, Bos was a partner in a repair shop in Fairfax County.
The couple moved to Leesburg in 1970, where they bought their old house and raised three daughters, Margot, Karla and Lisa. Bos, an energetic father who made sure to teach his girls the basics of home and car repair, was more like a mentor and friend than a parent, said Lisa Bos, his youngest daughter.
"He was very much our idea of what a man should be," said Lisa Bos, 37. "Which put a big burden on our husbands and boyfriends."
In the 1970s, Bos opened Leesburg Import Service and ran it until he retired 20 years later. Taking a car there was "like going to a doctor's office," during which a proud Bos would offer an extended analysis of the problem, treatment and a "post-diagnosis debate," said land-use planner William J. Keefe, whose Toyota was a regular client.
"Chuck could quote the classics one minute and tell you how to tune your carburetor the next," Keefe said. "He was a rare human being."
Bos was an avid golfer, traveler and a fan of all music -- from Fats Domino to Bach, his wife said. When the family first moved to Loudoun, he figured the lawn of the Leesburg Courthouse would be a great place to hear music. That idea led to August Court Days, which he co-founded. Later, Bos helped bring the Bluemont Concert Series to Leesburg.
From 1980 to 1986, Bos served on the Leesburg Town Council. That was followed by a five-year run on the Board of Supervisors, four as vice chairman.
Marilyn Bos said her husband, a Democrat, had no political ambitions, just a desire to help his community. He built a reputation as a straightforward and "supremely fair" leader, Keefe said.
"He's somebody that always told you what he thought. There was no middle ground," said John A. Andrews II, chairman of the Loudoun County School Board. "You don't always get that with people in public service. They're not as direct as they should be."
Through his service, Bos forged lasting friendships that crossed political lines. As Bos grew more ill in recent years, Andrews, Keefe and other friends -- including J. Randall Minchew, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Party -- would take him on tours of the county.
"He'll be sorely missed," Keefe said.