Western New England Mourns the Passing of JoAnne Bovat

Bovat at the 2011 Downes Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony along with (from left) former Athletic Director Mike Theulen, Coach Bill Downes, and University President Dr. Anthony Caprio.
Bovat at the 2011 Downes Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony along with (from left) former Athletic Director Mike Theulen, Coach Bill Downes, and University President Dr. Anthony Caprio.

Longtime office manager was inducted into Downes Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (February 20, 2018) –
The Western New England University athletic department and the entire campus community mourn the loss of Downes Athletic Hall of Famer JoAnne Bovat, who passed away on Friday, February 16. 

Bovat, a native of Westfield, Mass., was a mainstay in the Golden Bears athletic department for over 40 years and she was inducted into the Downes Athletic Hall of Fame for her contributions in 2011.

Bovat started her illustrious career as the Secretary to the Athletic Director upon graduating from Northampton Junior College in 1971 and began working in a one-room office with Coach Bill Downes in Rivers Memorial Gymnasium.

Her love of sports and people bridged four generations of Western New England student-athletes. She played a key role behind the scenes assisting the administrative staff and coaches on a daily basis with her strong commitment to excellence and ability to get the job done.

Bovat served as the Office Manager in the Alumni Healthful Living Center until her retirement in 2016.

Three of JoAnne's long-time colleagues remembered her warmth and professionalism:

"JoAnne and I worked together at Western New England for over 40 years. She was instrumental in many of the successes I had as a head coach and head of physical education. In my period of time at Western New England, JoAnne was my best friend." - Coach Emeritus Bill Downes

"JoAnne was one of the warmest, most caring people that I have ever met. Her service to Western New England University was amazing and she was a huge part of all of our wonderful accomplishments both on and off the field. JoAnne spent over 40 years as the smiling face that greeted literally thousands of people that visited or were part of our athletic family. From the day I became AD at Western New England, I depended upon her greatly. Her induction into the Downes Athletic Hall of Fame is a testimony to her great work, ability, and loyalty."  - Former Athletics Director Mike Theulen

"I met JoAnne my freshman year at WNE(C). Not only was JoAnne a constant in the athletic department,  she was a constant influence on my life as a student mentor, colleague, friend, and athletics family member for close to three decades. She taught all of those around her how to stay positive in times of adversity, and she had a knack for brightening everyone's day no matter what curveball life threw at her. She also had an endless supply of potato chips and snacks stashed in her drawer for anyone who needed them! Her legacy will continue to live on through the countless members of the Golden Bear family that she has touched through the years."  - Softball Coach Lori Mayhew-Wood

Visitation is Thursday from 9:00AM - 10:00AM at the TOOMEY-O'BRIEN FUNERAL HOME, 1043 Westfield Street, West Springfield, followed by a Mass of Christian burial at 10:30AM in St. Mary's Church, 30 Bartlett St., Westfield. Burial to follow at St. Mary's Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made to Shriners Hospital Springfield, 516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104 or St. Mary's Church, 30 Bartlett Street, Westfield, MA 01085.


JoAnne with former student-athletes McKenzie Pezze, Chelsea Vujs and Brianna Kubik at her retirement party in 2015. 

JoAnne and longtime friend/colleague Bill Downes. The two worked together at Western New England for over 40 years.