Building dedication honors Boatright
Walter “Junior” Boatright’s name lives on in Callahan through family and now a county building.
The County Building on Mickler Street was changed to the Walter “Junior” Boatright County Building June 27 during a commemoration service punctuated with humorous anecdotes about the late Nassau County commissioner. The county commission approved the renaming of the building in his memory June 14.
Boatright died Dec. 12 after battling health issues.
He served as the District 5 representative for eight years, starting Nov. 18, 2008. During his high school years at West Nassau, Boatright played football for the Warriors. The 1977 grad served as a sports announcer for his alma mater for many years.
Current District 5 County Commissioner Justin Taylor opened the ceremony, which was held outside in a grassy area near the new signage. He recalled Boatright’s down-to-earth approach to government, saying, “Junior always told me, ‘You’re not going to please everybody. But just do what you believe is right and you’ll be OK.’”
Boatright gave him an honest opinion about how to handle matters.
“And I’ve always appreciated him for that,” Taylor said. “And the best part about Junior, every time you saw him, he was smiling or laughing or cutting up or picking on somebody. It’s who he was. He truly enjoyed life. And we all miss him. He’s truly missed. I just want to tell Tonya, Jeremy (and) Steven, thank you for sharing Junior with this community and allowing us to recognize his service by dedicating this building.”
Tonya Boatright spoke of how her husband would have responded to the fanfare.
“It’s such an honor, such an overwhelming, emotional day,” she told the Record. “Junior would be so elated. Our family is so humbled by this recognition of him. And more than likely, he would probably be saying, ‘I don’t know what the big deal is, ‘cause I’m just a normal person like everybody else.’”
She added, “So we truly love everyone and the outpouring of all friends and political officials. He loved his county and he definitely represented his county and he loved the West Side.”
Jeremy Boatright recalled how his dad embraced his role as commissioner.
“He felt very strongly about the title of being a public servant,” he said. “He took pride in it. And he wanted to lead by example, so this right here is a testament to how he conducted his life and how he handled himself as a true public servant, so we are again, humbled and appreciative. And I know he’s probably smiling and laughing and probably thinking, ‘You guys are idiots for standing out here in this heat. Let’s get out and let’s go have a drink at Shuckers.’ Thank you again. We appreciate it and we looking forward to seeing this for years to come.”
Retired Nassau County Administrative Judge Robert Foster read a list of “Juniorisms” he heard Boatright express through the years.
The pair often lunched together at Shuckers in Yulee.
“Junior had an uncanny ability to discern insights into others,” Foster said.
“He was a great judge of character. He would leave meetings and he would say, ‘That guy was as happy as if he had good sense. He thinks the sun comes out just to hear him crow. The porch light’s on, but no one’s there.’”
Foster closed his tribute with a quip about the judicial complex in Yulee that bears his name.
“As he looks down on this building, (I) ask him to look east to Yulee, to the judicial center, my building, and with definite proof, I can finally tell him, ‘See, I told you mine was bigger.’ God bless you Junior, you live in our hearts every day. We love you. We love your family.”