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Remembering Pat Boland: A Hard-working, Honorable Friend

by on July 20, 2011 6:15 AM

I was not able to attend my friend Pat Boland's service or funeral, so I never had the chance to say goodbye properly. I will miss Pat for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he was one of the all-time good guys in State College.

Pat cared about so many different aspects of the community and was not afraid to tackle a tough topic or issue. He was, however, always professional and treated people with dignity, even when he disagreed with them.

Pat always supported the ice hockey program and treated me and our players and fans with great respect. I will forever be grateful to him for that support and am sorry he won't be here to see the Pegula Ice Arena and Big Ten hockey.

If you knew of Pat only from his on-air persona and didn't spend any private time with him, you missed a different side of Pat. He was a lot of fun and had a great sense of humor. I was asked to join Pat and Kevin at Christmastime to spend time talking with Santa, and we had a ball on the air and during commercial breaks.

Pat was also a very caring person. Over the years, he was a part of thousands of events in the community and touched a lot of people's lives.

He had the biggest influence on Jeff "Ironhead" Byers beginning his career in broadcasting. He had Jeff as a student broadcaster was a great mentor to Jeff and many others.

I spoke with Jeff about Pat, and he pointed out one of Pat's greatest strengths: versatility.

"Pat could tie different topics together and would use sports and news programs and relate them to scenes and quotes from TV shows and movies to make comical references," Jeff said.

"As the sports director at the student radio station, we called him The Chief. He was never comfortable with the title, as he was so humble. He looked at everyone the same and could hold a conversation with the mayor, a coach, and a council member, a student or any caller and make them feel at ease."

Jeff also talked about Pat's legendary attention to details. "Pat was so thorough, and despite the number of stories he broke, he always made sure the facts were correct and didn't place sensationalism over reporting the facts," Jeff recalled.

Pat stood for professionalism – he wanted things done right and stood up for his ideas. But he didn't take his work outside the station. If you spoke to him off the record, it stayed off the record. He would counsel his colleagues and wasn't afraid to look you in the eye and correct you in a dignified manner if you were wrong. He was critical but fair and always did his due diligence.

The Ironhead sat next to Pat for 22 years in the Beaver Stadium press box. "Pat would come up with the most obscure stats and tidbits and was always challenging his colleagues to keep everyone sharp," he said.

At the start of every fourth quarter, he held up four fingers in the press box to inspire all the media for the "fourth quarter rally" to write their best.

Pat started a media competition as part of Lift for Life, and he would go out and do his best. He was not a real strong competitor, but he always participated. He would run the 40-yard dash and, according to Byers, "you could time him with a sun dial!"

He was also known for the attendance poll among members of the media at sporting events. He even made a formal announcement for the winner at post-game press conferences. He had fun at his job.

Pat was diagnosed more than two years ago with cancer. He was working out at the North Club and running on treadmill when suddenly his endurance dropped significantly and he struggled to breathe. He went in for a check-up and doctors discovered he had lung cancer. He fought a courageous battle the past two years.

"It was his drive to stay on the air that kept him going," Byers told me. "Although you could see the weakness on his face and his loss of hair, he would always paint a positive picture."

Unfortunately, the cancer spread and the radiation treatments increased. He was informed not long before his passing that the cancer had spread and that he would not have long to live. He kept it to himself.

Pat was stoic to the end. He told Kevin Nelson he was excited for the football season and hoped to cover at least the home schedule.

Kevin was Pat's partner on the air for the past three years and was with him during the hardest part of the battle.

"Pat was the hardest working person I had ever worked with," Kevin said. "Always had his facts right and was a walking encyclopedia, especially when it came to sports trivia. But he was also so invested in the community. Even while his energy level was down, his passion for his work never suffered."

Kevin was quick to point out Pat's courage and grace during his battle. "The morning show is a grind, and for him to come in after radiation and chemo treatments was remarkable. He hid his pain and didn't want to make a big deal out of it."

While Kevin said he has worked with all great partners, he would give Pat the A+++. He could always rely on Pat for everything, and it was a memorable time. Listening to audio tapes of Pat last week brought Kevin to tears.

Pat was so honorable and hard-working. We should all aspire to be so strong when faced with such circumstances.

Through it all Pat never complained.

But that was Pat. He was one of the good guys at a time when they are tougher to find.

Rest in peace my friend. You will be missed.

Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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