Dance to honor musician killed by mountain goat

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Somehow, his friends say, the late Bob Boardman played in every band.

He played his guitar in every band, providing old-time music for dances at the Black Diamond Community Hall, plus plenty of other gatherings across the North Olympic Peninsula.

And a few of these groups, including the Black Diamond Fiddle Club of Port Angeles and BOB (Buddies of Bob), will play the Bob Boardman Memorial Dance this Saturday night at the Black Diamond hall, with Laura Mé Smith calling the dances.

This is for everybody, including “6-year-olds, 16-year-olds, 70-year-olds,” said Scott Athair, an avid contra dancer from Port Angeles.

The dance is also in honor of Boardman, who was killed by a mountain goat in Olympic National Park on Oct. 16, 2010.

A guitarist, nurse, diabetes educator and avid hiker, Boardman helped build a lot of community.

He lived in Port Townsend for many years before moving to Port Angeles, where he married Susan Chadd in December 2009.

At their home, they hosted dance callers and musicians who came from around the United States to join the dance at the Black Diamond hall.

Saturday’s memorial dance, the third annual, is “about Bob’s life, and what a legacy he left us,” said Athair.

“Bob could play just about any style,” added Jeanie Murphy of Port Townsend, the banjo player who thought up the BOB band’s name in 2002.

“He had a wonderful driving beat that was perfect for dances but also a lot of subtle in-between notes for a lyrical feel.”

Scott Athair’s wife Elizabeth, an especially joyful contra dancer, also recalls Boardman’s ability to put people at ease.

“He just welcomed people, so much,” she said. “But he had a quiet presence,” in the way he treated fellow musicians and dancers.

Boardman cofounded the Black Diamond Fiddle Club and performed alongside many illustrious players.

But he wasn’t the grandstanding type.

Instead he and Chadd would cook pre-dance dinners for visiting musicians, and then Boardman could back them up on rhythm guitar.

“He had a huge influence on bringing bands and callers . . . to come and play for our lovely local dance,” said Erran Sharpe, a member of the Black Diamond Fiddle Club.

Soon after Boardman’s death, his friends and family established the Bob Boardman Fiddle Tunes Scholarship.

This fund will help young guitarists attend the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes workshops in Port Townsend every summer.

Already Nandi Forrest, a 13-year-old from Big Sur, Calif., has been awarded a scholarship.

“I am really into Doc Watson and I have learned ‘Black Mountain Rag,’ ‘Deep River Blues’ and lots more. I am excited about coming to Fiddle Tunes,” Nandi wrote in a thank-you letter.

Fund donations

Saturday’s dance brings an opportunity to donate to the fund: Admission is a suggested $7 for adults and $3 for youth.

As always with the contra dances, the evening will start with a beginners’ workshop at 7:30 p.m.

After that crash course, the bands start at 8 p.m. at the Black Diamond Community Hall, which is about 2 miles south of town at 1942 Black Diamond Road.

Members of the contra-dance community are sending words of encouragement out to newcomers, including those who didn’t know Boardman.

“Come to a dance where we’re all friends, even if we’ve never met before,” Murphy said.

“You will feel the joy.”

These dances at the Black Diamond Community Hall happen one Saturday night a month, thanks to organizers such as Tom Shindler of Port Angeles.

“We’ll fill the hall with caring, exuberant memories,” Shindler said of this Saturday’s gathering.

“Life is short. Don’t miss your chances to celebrate it.”

For more information about the community contra dances and the Bob Boardman Fiddle Tunes Scholarship Fund, email Shindler at or Sharpe at, or phone 360-457-5667.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: October 10. 2012 6:07PM
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