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‘True Mt. Shastan’ Ned Boss remembered for a life of service

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
Ned Boss in front of the vintage fire truck at the Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum.

Former Mount Shasta mayor, longtime public works director and citizen of the year Ned Boss – who spent his life in the town and took an active role in its betterment – died Oct. 18 at the age of 84.

The list of Boss’s titles is long: he served as a Mount Shasta city councilor for three terms and as the town’s mayor once each term. He was Mount Shasta’s Public Works Director for more than 20 years and volunteered with the Mount Shasta Fire Department for 24 years. The Chamber of Commerce named him Mount Shasta’s Citizen of the Year in 2014 and later in life, as a local historian and a member of Sisson Museum’s board, Boss helped develop several new exhibits.

Boss was raised on his family’s ranch at a location that is now under Lake Siskiyou. His presentation of his life on the ranch, the construction of Box Canyon Dam in 1969, and the subsequent inundation of the Boss and Spini ranches “was one of the most outstanding presentations ever given at the museum,” according to a press release upon Boss’s resignation from the museum board in 2017. It had to be repeated many times, exceeding the museum’s seating capacity every time.

Mount Shasta's Ned Boss in the Fourth of July parade as Citizen of the Year in 2014.

Boss was a tireless resource for the museum, designing and constructing exhibits, helping with maintenance and repairs, and generally volunteering for anything that needed to be done.

As a young man, Boss returned to Mount Shasta after serving for eight years in the U.S. Coast Guard with plans to revive his family’s ranch into a tourist destination. Plans changed after the Box Canyon Dam project began and was hired in 1965 as Mount Shasta’s Director of Public Works.

He retired from that post in the mid 1980s and ran for city council, where he served from April 1984-April 1988 and Dec. 1993-April 1994. In 1999, when the city’s public works director quit, Boss stepped back into the role as interim director for another 16 months.

In 2008, when there was a need, Boss threw his hat into the election ring and was again elected to the Mount Shasta City Council.

“It is gratifying to know that my decisions have made Mount Shasta a better city to live in,” Boss said in an autobiography he wrote for his family.

“He quite literally knew this town from the ground up,” said Karen Dettman, who worked with Boss at Mount Shasta City Hall. She said he was always “cheerful and upbeat” and she enjoyed hearing his colorful stories.

Ned Boss accepting his Citizen of the Year Award from the Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce in 2014.

“What I remember about Ned’s time with the city was that he always wanted to be prepared,” said former city manager and finance director Ted Marconi. “At that time he would check with me often about the state of the department budget and project finances. Later when he was a councilperson, and I was city manager, he would come in and check with me regularly about the next agenda, and what nuances he should be aware of.”

In the 1980s, Boss and his wife of 55 years, Carol, were part owners of Windsors on Mount Shasta Boulevard, where they ran the well-loved, old fashioned soda fountain, as well as their photography business, Boss Photo.

Over the years, Boss took many local residents’ school, sports, prom, wedding and family portraits. He also enjoyed filming sport videos for coaches at Mount Shasta High School.

After Windsor’s closed, Boss Photo moved to the Mt. Shasta Old Railroad Station Building on the corner of Mt. Shasta Boulevard and Alma Street.

More:Obituary: Ned Boss

Boss was a member of the Rod and Gun Club, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, the town’s Beautification Committee, Fourth of July Committee, Merchants Committee, and Mount Shasta High School Boosters Club. 

In 1984, Ned and Carol placed lights on the tree outside Boss Photo and then he helped raise funds to light all the trees on the 300 block of Mt. Shasta Boulevard. The town’s tree lighting ceremony, which takes place each year the Friday after Thanksgiving, was the result of their efforts. For several years, Boss was the chairman of the Lighting Committee. He also drove the fire truck that pulled Santa’s Sleigh through Mount Shasta streets during many Christmas seasons.

In addition to his work and volunteerism with the city, Boss worked for the Hearst Corporation for many years, maintaining the Hearst Wyntoon Resort’s water system as the certificated wastewater treatment plant operator and as a photographer and videographer.

Boss was publicly recognized many times during his life for his service to the community. 

In 1974, he received the Distinguished Citizenship award from the Grand Lodge Order of the Mt. Shasta Elk Club for community service. In 2001, Boss was presented a plaque for his outstanding service to Mount Shasta and in 2014, as Citizen of the Year, he rode prominently in the town’s Fourth of July parade.

Ned Boss accepts a plaque recognizing his three terms on the City Council in November of 2012. Also pictured are then-city council members Geoff Harkness, left, Tim Stearns, center, and then-mayor, the late Tom Moore.

Jim McChesney, who volunteered with Boss on the Sisson Museum board, had this to say about working with him: “The best part of being involved with non-profit organizations as a volunteer is the people you meet. When Ned joined our board I was delighted. I knew Ned, but not personally. I knew from our first board meeting with Ned that he was going to be fun to work with, and he was. One day, four of us took a field trip to Weaverville to see the museum there. Their website said they would be open, but when we got there they were not. Ned just shrugged, smiled and said, ‘No problem, let’s go have lunch.’”

“I have at times heard several people accolladed as ‘Mr. Mount Shasta’ and have never quite agreed with that honorific because Mount Shasta is such a diverse and eclectic community,” said Marconi. “But from the Boss Ranch, to public works director, city councilman, continuing Windsor’s fountain, Boss Photo, and the Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum and his dedication throughout, Ned was everything it means to be a ‘Mt. Shastan,’” said Marconi. “This is a better community because of Ned, and a poorer one now that he is gone.”