Edward John Basar II, a retired Detroit physical education teacher and popular Boy Scout leader, inspired generations of boys – and more recently girls – to attain the highest rank in Boy Scouts, Eagle Scout, and cheered them on with his catchphrase: “You have to believe!”
Mr. Bazaar, as his students and Boy Scouts called him, died Monday at his home in Walled Lake. He was 82.
“Ed has developed a passion for helping young people develop the best,” the Michigan Crossroads Council of Boy Scouts of America said in a widely shared email. “As an Eagle Scout, he took the values of the scouting program and put them into action as a young scoutmaster and camp employee.”
Just by the rows of square knots sewn onto his uniform, anyone could tell that Bazaar had dedicated his life to the youth organization. Each node – a Scout emblem chosen because it is an ancient but simple binding used to secure objects – represented a significant achievement in the organization.
But beyond that, Bazaar believed in the potential of young people. Even as the Boy Scouts of America faced criticism, lawsuits, and changes to keep up with the times, he held on to his beliefs. By scouting, he tried to prepare those who would come after him.
Bazaar graduated from Cooley High School and Wayne State University, and in addition to his 40 years teaching Detroit schools, he also owned a landscaping service, Looks Good Garden & Landscaping, where he worked with his daughter-in-law, Karen Kosky, until ” on the day he died”.
“He treated everyone like a good, good friend,” she added. “He wasn’t a customer, he was his friend.”
Bazaar believed in the Boy Scout oath — and lived it — said Theresa Osvath, who worked with him for 36 years.
He encouraged others to live the oath: “On my honor, I will do my best to fulfill my duty to God and my country and to obey Boy Scout law; to help other people at any time; keeping myself physically strong and mentally alert and morally upright” — too.
He wanted to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, courageous, clean, and reverent,” and he taught that to his students and Boy Scouts. He wanted them, he said in meetings with their parents, to grow up to be good citizens and good men – and women.
And while only a small percentage of Boy Scouts ever so reached the rank of Eagle, Basar believed that all Boy Scouts—given the right opportunity and attitude—had the potential to do so. To help scouts who may not have enough support from their squad, he created an intensive, week-long summer camp in D-Bar-A and called it Trail to Eagle.
The camp, he said, offered the opportunity.
But nobody, he added, would do the work for them, scouts had to do it themselves.
For 25 years, Trail to Eagle has thrived under Bazaar’s leadership. He was happy to announce that Boy Scouts from all over Michigan and even America and sometimes the world would sign up for it, and the camp also brought adults together to organize and be role models, and not just for this week.
In its email, the Michigan Council described Bazaars Camp as the “largest and most successful of its kind in the entire organization.” So far, the council said, more than 3,000 Boy Scouts have passed through the camp. And whenever campers became Eagle Scouts, Bazaar did his best to attend their formal celebrations.
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Bazaar served as a camp clerk at Charles Howell Scout Reserve in Brighton from the late 1950’s. It later closed and he worked as an employee and as a camp manager at D-bar-A Scout Ranch in Metamora. He was an active Arrowman and Vigil Honorary Member, a National Water Sports Instructor and a Water Sports Director for the National Camping School.
Among his other high scouting honors: Life Member of the National Eagle Scout Association, Member of the James E. West Fellowship Endowment Committee and National Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, George Meany Award, Lamb Award, District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver and silver antelope medals.
Former Scouts – some even calling themselves “Baser Boys” – have posted memories of their Scout leader on the digital tribute wall, praising him for being an “amazing man”, a “hero”, a role model, a mentor and more friend, especially when they needed him most in their lives.
“He was one of the first to put his arms around my shoulders and comfort me when I was broken,” a former Scout wrote, adding that in addition to life skills and life skills, Bazaar taught him “compassion, understanding, forgiving and… to give someone a chance”, and yet he “never knew how much I admired him, looked up to him and sought his guidance”.
He probably knew, relatives said, but he wouldn’t want anyone to get so muddy and sentimental about it.
Bazaar is survived by Irene, his wife of 29 years; five sons, Steve (Brenda) Bazaar, Chris (Jessica) Bazaar, Jim (Karen) Kosky, Jon (Charlene) Kosky and Frank (Kelly) Kosky; two brothers Donald (Kay) Wragg, Keith (the late Victoria) Bazaar, 13 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
The visit is scheduled Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 340 North Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake with a Boy Scout reminder at 7:30 p.m. Scouts and Scout Leaders are asked to attend in uniform.
Burial is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 2040 South Commerce Rd., Walled Lake, with burial Tuesday at Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley. Memorials may be dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America Detroit Council, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, or the American Red Cross.
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or [email protected]