Geyserville hardware store owner Harry Bosworth remembered as someone who ‘liked to know people’s histories’

Harry Bosworth was born in Geyserville in 1938 and called it home all his life. He was sometimes asked what he did there in the splendidly situated ranching town just north of Healdsburg, south of Cloverdale, east of Highway 101 and west of the Russian River.

Bosworth was known to smile and answer, “It’s easier to tell you what I don’t do.”

For a time they ran a radio and TV repair shop in the unincorporated town, then a hardware store, then a general store and museum, and also Geyserville’s water works and cemetery. Beyond that, he grew wine grapes and served on the governing boards of the Geyserville Unified School District, the chamber of commerce, the fire department, the local community foundation and the historical society.

“They used to refer to him as the unofficial mayor,” said one of Bosworth’s two daughters, Rachel Prat of Healdsburg. Her sister, Geyserville’s Gretchen Crebs, said their father relished knowing everyone in the town of fewer than 1,000 souls, and he savored his conversations with visitors.

“He liked to know people’s stories,” said Crebs, now the proprietor of Geyserville’s landmark Bosworth & Son Store. “He liked people to know his story about him. He just liked people.”

Harry Kilgore Bosworth died Nov. 8 after dealing with lymphoma for a bit over a year. He was 84.

The fourth-generation Geyserville resident was born Sept. 3, 1938 to Obed and Marie Bosworth. His father had opened the Bosworth & Son Store in 1911 with his father, George Bosworth. They sold feed, grain, paint, Western hats, tack, tobacco, candy, you name it.

Harry Bosworth worked at his father’s and grandfather’s store while attending local public schools. About a year after graduating from Geyserville High in 1956 he enlisted in the US Army, hoping to see some of the world. The army trained him in electronics and showed him some of west Texas and Alabama.

Upon receiving his honorable discharge, he returned home and enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College. In 1962, he put his electronics expertise to work by opening a radio-and-TV sales and repair shop in the building now occupied by the Geyserville Gun Club bar.

In 1966, at age 28, Bosworth lived with a roommate who was dating a young woman with a roommate named Karen Dunlavy. Harry and Karen met and hit it off. They married in ’67.

They set up housekeeping in Geyserville. Karen Bosworth launched a career in the medical field. In ’68, she and Harry purchased the long-standing hardware store located where Diavola Pizzeria is now.

More than 40 years ago, following the death of Obed Bosworth, Harry Bosworth closed that hardware store and consolidated across the road with Bosworth & Son. He operated it as a hardware, feed and mercantile store until 2018, when he and his daughter Gretchen streamlined it.

Since then, Bosworth & Son has featured Stetsons and other Western hats, other apparel and gifts. Newcomers often are surprised and delighted to find that within the store is also a fascinating museum of local history.

For decades, Harry Bosworth collected and accepted all sorts of local memorabilia. It now comprises the unusual, in-store museum operated in conjunction with the Geyserville Historical Society and curated by Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society stalwart Ann Howard.

“Tourists are usually kind of caught off guard to see that there’s a history museum here,” Gretchen Crebs said. “Locals look to see if anything new has been added.”

For most of his life, Harry Bosworth worked six days a week at his stores and other businesses, and on Sunday took on chores at his and Karen’s ranch just outside of town. Rachel Prat remembers when she and her sister de ella were kids and asked their dad if they might go somewhere on vacation.

He told them, “Why would you ever want to leave this place? This is the most beautiful place on Earth. People come here for vacations!”

He and Karen did a bit of traveling. On one memorable trip he became so enamored with Italy that he began learning Italian. His daughters of him recall riding in his pickup with him and listening to a repeat-after-me language CD.

Day in and day out, Bosworth was perfectly content with his life in little Geyserville. He mused in a 2012 interview with the Sonoma County Farm Bureau that he never left the town because “I never had enough money for a bus ticket out of here.”

Fact is, Bosworth added, he was always quite happy living and working in Geyserville.

“It’s a nice lifestyle that is free of hustle and bustle.”

In addition to his wife and daughter in Geyserville and his daughter in Healdsburg, Bosworth is survived by a brother, Charles Beers of Cat Springs, Texas, and two granddaughters.

A celebration of Bosworth’s life is at 1 pm on Dec. 10 at the Geyserville Oriental Hall.

His family suggests memorial contributions to any of the local organizations that were so important to him: the Geyserville Community Foundation, Kiwanis Club, Odd Fellows, Geyserville Historical Society, Northern Sonoma County Fire District, Geyserville Chamber of Commerce or Friends of Lake Sonoma.