Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cooksville’s Hank Bova Has Died

A. Henry Bova, “Hank,” died on August 23, 2013.  He was 77 years old and a longtime resident of Cooksville.  Hank, born in Dearborn, Michigan, was retired after 36 years as a Professor of French at Beloit College.  His partner, Maurice Gras, born in Draguignan, France, in 1928, was a retired Professor of French at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and preceded Hank in death in 2003. Both were very active in Cooksville community organizations; Maurice had been president of the Cooksville Community Center, and Hank was a member of the Historic Cooksville Trust Board for 8 years and then an Honorary Board member for the past year. Both were active participants in the historic village activities.

Hank and Maurice purchased Cooksville’s historic Longbourne-Roberson House (built c.1854) in 1968, and restored and rehabilitated the house under the guidance of their friend and architect, Michael Saternus. The project included a new addition to the rear and a new garage, designed by Mike. Extensive landscaping of the property was also undertaken
Marvin Raney, local historian and antiquarian, wrote a history of the Longbourne-Robertson House up to 1968 as a gift for Hank and Maurice, and Hank wrote a continuation of the story in 2004, both of which are in the Cooksville Archives.
Hank’s story relates that he and Maurice had been searching for a rural residence halfway between Madison and Beloit and happened upon Cooksville, where, thanks to Marvin Raney, they discovered the Longbourne-Robertson House, then owned by Miles and Beth Armstrong, was for sale. The two were not impressed. As Hank wrote, “It did not appeal at first.”
Hank’s story continued: “After meeting with Michael Saternus, another friend of Marvin and a budding architect who convinced us that this was a beautiful house, full of promise, we contacted the owner, Miles Armstrong. We made a ridiculously low offer. To our considerable surprise, he accepted. Mike Saternus advised us to buy as much land as we could afford with the house and we did…. We moved in in March 1968…. We promised Mike Saternus to restore the front elevation of the house as closely as possible to the original….The new addition was completed in about November, 1974….The photographic portraits which hang in the stairwell are of Paul Savage and his sister, Avis. Paul… was a colorful personage. He became a folk hero in this house where legend has it that his ghost lingers.”

Hank and Maurice both became “legends” of their own, for accomplishments in their own time— in the restoration of their house, in their extensive gardens, in their beloved village’s activities, and in the gracious, fun-loving  and productive lives they lived—and for the wonderful, legendary meals that were cooked in their “French House.”

{Remembered by their friend, Larry Reed, who learned a lot about cooking, partying, and enjoying Cooksville from Hank and Maurice.]