THAYER -- The man who introduced Thayer to the world of football died last week in West Plains.
Louis J. Bozman, 99, died at his home. He came to Thayer in August 1929 just after graduating from Westminster College. He served as track and basketball coach. In 1932 he brought football to Thayer.
A story published in the Thayer News/South Missourian Democrat, Oct, 10, 1985, tells how in 1932 the coach traveled to Gideon, Mo., and with his own money made at a school carnival purchased used football equipment so Thayer could participate in football.
Joe Gibbons made available his field, (near the present high school) for the football field. With a team of horses and a plow the field was made ready with two-foot by four-foot boards constructed for goal posts and lined with lime. The team's green jerseys and the first football was purchased from the Lloyd Thompson Sporting Goods store in West Plains.
The big day of the Bobcats first practice finally came. After the ball was blown up Rolla Ladd kicked it and it burst, delaying the practice further.
Various businessmen in the community donated time and money to get the first team started. Some of them included Harry Johnson who worked as gatekeeper at every game, Norval Taylor, Charlie Cockman, Golie Trimble, Bill Thomas, Owen Best and Dwight Gohn. The school had no buses so these men saw that the team made it to away games.
The first game was played against West Plains and the Bobcats lost 26-0.
Bozman later married Lida Risner in Salem, Ark., a 1929 graduate of Thayer High School and former Lady Bobcat basketball player. In the same article Mrs. Bozman said, "Even after Louis and I married, several ladies from Thayer and I formed a basketball team. We played in Trimble's Garage because Thayer didn't have an indoor court at the time. We never were beaten."
Coach Bozman led Thayer to many track team victories in the county and in 1935 led the team to win first place in the Arkansas-Missouri Track Meet in Springfield against teams from four other states.
On Sept. 27, 1985, the Thayer track and football field was dedicated to Bozman. It was named the Louis James Bozman Track and Field Complex. The coach and his wife were both at the dedication ceremony. Sam Rhoades, who at the time served as president of the Thayer School Board, presented the coach with a plaque for his years of dedication to the school. Bozman coached at Thayer from 1929 until 1941.Thayer cheerleaders presented Lida Bozman with a bouquet of flowers during the event. Members of the first football team were recognized.
Services for Coach Bozman were held Jan. 9 at First United Methodist Church in West Plains under the direction of Carter Funeral Home.
He was buried in the Thayer Cemetery.