Local 13 family keeps son’s memory alive with philanthropy
RETIRED BUSINESS AGENT Jack Borzell, his wife Mary Claire, and daughter Julianna have turned the tragic loss of their son and brother, John, into a positive mission of honor and remembrance.
John “Beno” Borzell lost his life Sept. 3, 2011, in a motorcycle accident. As a promising young athlete, John wore number 17 on his football jersey and baseball uniform. Although John was being scouted for a sports scholarship from several colleges, his passion for the outdoors led him to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in earth and environmental science at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His fatal accident occurred just four months after graduation. He was 22.
The Borzells want the legacy of John’s caring personality and zest for life to continue, and so they set about raising money for a scholarship fund. Jack, a retired Local 13 (Philadelphia) member, along with his wife and daughter, started a successful golf fundraiser in John’s name in 2012. Last year, on September 17, the tournament drew 144 golfers. The event attracts participants from the construction industry, including Boilermakers, other union trades and contractors. Many of John’s friends participate as well. The tournament has been sold out the last two years and has already been sold out for 2017.
Seventeen graduates of the Wyoming Area High School, John’s alma mater, have been awarded scholarships — $1,700 per student — to represent the number 17 that John wore during his years there.
Some of the Borzells’ fundraising efforts go towards an environmental chemistry lab at the new Wilkes University science building. “We decided on the room in the science center because he always wanted to help other students,” says Julianna. “By having this lab named after him, this was one way he could continue to do that, even after he’s gone.”
In 2017, the family will make their last payment on the lab that bears John’s name. The payment will be made on Earth Day 2017 as a tribute to John’s love of the outdoors and the environment.
Keeping John’s name alive is important to the Borzells. As Jack recalls, shortly before John’s death he told his mother, “I’m going to make a name for myself.”
“We’re keeping it going this way,” Jack says, referring to the golf tournament, science lab and scholarships.
This story is adapted, with permission, from an article in the Wilkes University magazine.