John Bos wins Shippee award

His many contributions to arts in West County recognized with annual service honor

Marvin Shippee award-winner John Bos of Shelburne Falls poses with his sister, Winifred Ganshaw, after receiving his award Friday. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio

Marvin Shippee award-winner John Bos of Shelburne Falls poses with his sister, Winifred Ganshaw, after receiving his award Friday. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio Purchase photo reprints »

SHELBURNE FALLS — In 1994, before Memorial Hall’s dormant theater would become the site for Pothole Pictures movies, Metropolitan Opera telecasts, community plays and concerts, John Bos brought violinist/composer Arnold Black together with former Mole Hollow business owner Peter Curtis to consider using the second-story auditorium for a Christmas concert. Curtis underwrote the concert, which was a big success, and it led to Bos and others forming a feasibility study committee to revive Memorial Hall as a community gathering place and visitor attraction.

But that was just one example given by Bos’ sister, Winnie Ganshaw, of why she and seven others had nominated her brother for the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association’s Marvin Shippee Community Service Award. Since moving to western Franklin County in 1992, Bos has had a role in many community arts ventures — from the Ashfield Fall Festival, which he directed during the time he lived in Ashfield, to his co-founding of the Eventide Singers, an all-volunteer gathering of singers who sing in small ensembles at the bedsides of the critically and terminally ill.

Bos received the award at the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association’s annual breakfast meeting, held Friday in the new lodge at Berkshire East in Charlemont.

In 1994, Bos was executive director of the Mohawk Trail Concerts’ 25th anniversary season, and in 1996, the former theater publicity director and performer created the non-profit RURAL Renaissance in Ashfield, to integrate performing arts into the Ashfield community. In its first year, Bos presented 14 music and theater events.

In 1998, he was appointed director of the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Project in Boston, returning to Shelburne Falls in 2000, following his retirement.

Bos has facilitated annual planning retreats for the Mary Lyon Education Foundation, along with other school foundations and school districts. Bos and Mary Lyon’s director Susan Samoriski, created adult education programs for what was called the “West County Classroom”

In 2001, Bos started presenting concert performances of adult and teenage vocal choirs at Second Congregational Church, and produced the first of three annual Christmas concerts in Memorial Hall.

“It is John’s service to those with cancer, and his outreach to the dying that inspired this nomination,” said Ganshaw. She said that surviving cancer ultimately led Bos to become a hospice volunteer. She said he has been an effective recruiter for the men’s cancer support group at The Cancer Connection, with which he has been involved for a dozen years.

His volunteer hospice work led him to collaborate with Mary Scheiber of Buckland to form the Eventide Singers. In 2012, a five-minute documentary that Bos and videographer David Fessenden put together won first place in the Ashfield Film Festival; now the two are working to create a half-hour video documentary about the healing power of music.

“It could be said that John has a way of seeing what needs to be done ... he sees a need and he responds,” said Ganshaw.

“Never would I think I would follow in the footsteps of Marion (Taylor) or Michael McCusker,” said Bos, referring to two other Shippee award winners whose lists of community services are also long. “I’ve lived in many places, but Shelburne Falls has become the only real hometown in my life,” he commented. “I have lived in the same house, in the same town, for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.”

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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