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Maurer brings a much needed medical clinic to Boswell area

October 1, 2018

B.J. Maurer Jr. of Boswell was recently honored with his 60-year service award by the Boswell Lions Club.

Both B.J. and his son Michael are Melvin Jones Fellows, which is the Lions International’s highest award given on behalf of the Boswell Lions Club for their dedication to humanitarian services. B.J. is the second of three generations following his father B.J. “Slim” Maurer Sr., who was a charter member for more than 30 years when the Boswell Lions Club first began in 1946. Michael Maurer is a 10-year Lions member.

Maurer was instrumental in bringing a medical clinic to Boswell. In 1957, he and other Lions members became concerned about a shortage of doctors in the Boswell area. Maurer was named chairman for the potential clinic project.

“We needed doctors and it was something to do,” Maurer said.

With help from the Sears-Roebuck Foundation, a vacant lot on the corner of Stonycreek Street was bought with $26,000 in pledges and a $15,000 loan from People’s Bank & Trust Co. The $40,000 Lions Medical Clinic was built and opened by 1962. Dr. Jan deVries, a native of Java, Holland, responded to an ad looking for a doctor. He and his wife, Kia, came to Boswell and raised their four children there.

The doctor said he was serving an internship in Washington, D.C., when he saw the ad through the Sears-Roebuck Foundation that Boswell was looking for a doctor. He called and talked to Maurer.

“The Lions Club decided it needed a doctor and was building a clinic,” deVries said. “I also heard that at one point they had three physicians, but two moved and one retired. The town did not have a doctor. I felt I was needed in the town.”

Maurer and the deVries remain good friends.

“I decided to stay here after I built good relationships with people and patients,” deVries said. “And we had already moved so often that we thought this was a good place to settle.”

Maurer was always part of the Boswell community. He was born and raised across the street from the Presbyterian Church. While in school he raised homing pigeons.

“It was something to do,” he said.

He graduated in 1948 from Boswell High School, where he played basketball. Maurer loves music and will start singing a song when he feels like it. He can still sing the school’s alma mater. He played drums in the high school band and was in the glee club and in the school’s class plays.

Maurer joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the destroyer USS Franklin D. Roosevelt as its weatherman. “I sailed the ocean blue,” he sings. While the ship was near Europe, Maurer met the pope.

“It was quite an experience,” he said.

He was then assigned to the Pentagon. After the service he came back to the Boswell area and became reacquainted with a certain redhead from Jenners, Betty Ann Varney.

“She was the most beautiful girl in the world,” he said. “I think she was interested in me too. We were marred 62 wonderful years.”

They were married and while raising four children — Chris, Susan, Michael and Matthew — Maurer was taking classes in business management from the University of Pittsburgh. At the same time he was working in the family car dealership, B.J. Maurer Ford. The dealership was started by Maurer’s grandfather. In 2024, B.J. Maurer Motor Co. will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

“He would study at the garage, take classes during the day and run the garage at night,” said daughter Susan Murray.

Maurer also became a member of the Men’s Club.He’s a member of All Saints Church. He enjoys golfing, fishing and hunting. He is the grandfather to 17 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren, and now resides at Laurel View Village in Davidsville.

“I had a good life. I was very lucky,” he said.

Now he enjoys sitting on his daughter’s porch swing and looking at the birds and flowers.

“I’m very fortunate,” he said. “It’s been a great ride.”

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