Bob Boardman, long-time Navigator missionary and statesman, went to be with the Lord on September 19, 2009. He was 85.
Bob was born February 1, 1924, in Salem, Oregon. He was just 17 when Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and about a year later he enlisted with the Marines. After an accelerated seven-week boot camp, and after machine gun and tank training, he shipped out to Melbourne, Australia, to replace casualties in the First Marine Division. A drunken brawl with an Australian soldier landed Bob in the hospital where he began to read the New Testament. A few months later, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
His company was sent to the Pacific where he engaged in three major campaigns, receiving two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.
Bob’s most severe wounds were in the Battle of Okinawa on June 17, 1945. While carrying a comrade from their burning tank, a sniper’s bullet pierced his throat, causing Bob to speak in a husky whisper the rest of his life.
While recovering in the Naval hospital, Bob attended a meeting with Navigator Don Rosenberger. That introduction led to Bob’s life-long involvement with The Navigators.
After the war, Bob worked in The Navigators’ headquarters in Los Angeles. He was nurtured in his faith by The Navigators’ founder Dawson Trotman and others. He returned to Okinawa in 1952 to further The Navigators’ ministry there, working largely among American soldiers. He also held a deep passion for spreading the Good News of Jesus among Japanese nationals.
Bob met Jean Keith while in Los Angeles. She joined him in Japan in the spring of 1953 and they were married that July in Tokyo. In the years that followed they had five children, all, but one, born in Japan. The Boardmans served 33 years in Japan followed by a two-year assignment in Australia. They also helped pioneer Navigator ministries in Korea and Mongolia.
In their later years, Bob and Jean settled in Seattle, Washington, and served local businessmen and women. They traveled internationally, teaching and encouraging Navigators across Asia. Ever devoted to the U.S. Marines, Bob served as chaplain to four different Marine Corps veterans groups.
In July 2008, Bob addressed a gathering of Navigator missionary pioneers at The Navigators’ headquarters at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We learned to become marathoners, not sprinters,” he said. “There were no spectators, no grandstands or glory. All the familiar props and nuances of our culture disappeared. We experienced ‘spiritual power outages’ and had to continually ask God to renew that spiritual power.”
Bob wrote regularly for the NavPress publication, Discipleship Journal, and published three books: Unforgettable Men in Unforgettable Times, C-Rations for the Warrior’s Heart, and Higher Honor.
Bob recorded a final message to his Navigator family that can be viewed on YouTube. In it he cited Psalm 37:3 as a verse that very simply “sums up our duties”: Trust in the Lord and do good.
Bob is survived by Jean and their five children: Holly Graybill, Laurel Seely, Paul Boardman, John Boardman, and Heidi Sauer. A memorial service for Bob will take place October 6, 2:00 p.m., at Northshore Baptist Church, 10301 NE 145th St., Bothell, Washington 98011. Friends may contact the family through Bob’s Facebook page.
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