Military Museum Founder Remembered with Blue Cross-Backed Display
Stan Bozich led a life of service, but his most enduring legacy shines a light on the stories of others who served.
Bozich’s lifelong collection of stories and memorabilia have culminated in the halls of the Michigan Heroes Museum in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Along with his wife, Lou, Bozich started the museum to honor service members and space explorers hailing from Michigan. With funding provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a new plaque honors Bozich’s memory, while new directional markers guide guests through the museum.
John Ryder is the museum’s current executive director. He said a larger display was planned for Bozich, who served in the Navy in the early 1950s, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
“He thought his service was nothing compared to some of the stories that we have in the museum,” Ryder said.
A collector of stories
As a boy, Bozich and his brothers would spend free time roaming alleys in Detroit, looking for treasure. People would often throw out old relics from their time in the military. The brothers would bring along a wagon and collect items, often looking for an opportunity to stop and chat.
“He’d go sit in their parlor and find out what they did and how they did it,” Ryder explained. “(Bozich) didn’t just collect things … he collected the stories and memories.”
As a young adult, Bozich traveled to Russia, then the Soviet Union. He noticed that in every little village there was some sort of memorial display honoring the community’s military service members, sometimes in their library or other community meeting spaces.
As Ryder tells, “Stan thought, ‘I can do that for the entire state of Michigan,’” and the spark for the museum was born.
A tough guy with a big heart and a dream
After he served in the Navy, Bozich served as a Royal Oak firefighter for 25 years, but that didn’t stop him from collecting history. He continued to collect military memorabilia and stories, often typing them up to preserve them.
He’d frequent VFW and American Legion halls, chatting people up for good stories. He’d track people and details down like a detective working a case. Ryder said Bozich collected upwards of 400 stories, many of which rotate through the museum’s displays today.
“You could tell by the way he told a story, which ones were his favorite, but he’d never tell,” Ryder said.
His life’s work went on display in the late 1970s, eventually moving the extensive collection to its permanent home in Frankenmuth in 1987.
“Stan was never more in his glory than when he was giving tours of the changing displays of the museum,” his 2018 obituary states. “Although one might get gently scolded for not paying attention, one definitely ended the tour with feelings of awe, pride and, undoubtedly, a renewed interest in our country and those that fought so hard for our freedom.”
“I know that he was proud,” Ryder said of Bozich and the museum he built.
Learn more about Bozich’s beloved museum by visiting MiHeroes.org. Plan a visit to see some of the stories he tirelessly collected brought to life. Support the museum by signing up for the Frankenmudder 5K, a virtual race with all proceeds going toward operational costs of the museum.
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Main image photo credit: SilverV; photos of Stan Bozich courtesy of Scott Furtaw