Ask Emmett: Boaz knows whereof he speaks

Who the heck is Emmett Boaz? That's the question on every lip this week, after the July 10 issue of the Hook catapulted the Greene County Renaissance man to prominence as Central Virginia's resident Jeeves.

As his wide-ranging observations last week made clear, the answer is simple: Emmett Boaz is a jack of all trades and master of most of them.

Boaz (it's pronounced as just one syllable: "Boze") is 56 and knows about books and writers thanks to his studies in English literature at Marshall University in West Virginia and a master's degree from JMU, where he developed a passion for Elizabethan drama. But the wide range of his literary tastes is apparent in his current bedside volume, Elmore Leonard's collection of stories, When the Women Come Out to Dance.

He was drafted and did a tour in Vietnam, then spent 15 years as a gunsmith, 10 as a competitive pistol shooter. But his fierce comment in last week's On the Block column "I'm not going to live anywhere I can't shoot out the back window"– may be a bit misleading.

"I mostly shoot holes in paper," he explains, "although once in a while I might kill a crow for raiding my birdfeeder."

After graduate school, Boaz taught at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock and junior high English in Brunswick County. That career ended after three years, apparently in the nick of time.

"If I'd stayed teaching junior high, I'd have killed somebody," he says, echoing no doubt the sentiments of many a long-suffering junior high teacher.

While Boaz spent his childhood in Covesville, he may be best known for his 15-year tenure as manager of the Woodbrook 7-11. Long-time Charlottesville resident Kevin Cox fondly remembers visiting the store and finding Boaz amid guns scattered everywhere. "Nobody ever robbed that place," Cox says, "and it wasn't really the guns that kept it safe. It was Emmett."

Boaz describes his duties at the 7-11 mostly as "throwing drunks out of the place," but one memorable event left its mark on his forehead. "It happened as I was foiling a kidnapping," he explains matter-of-factly. "I didn't hit the guy hard enough the first time, and he came at me with a knife."

While Boaz has been unemployed since leaving Lexis Nexis for health reasons last Thanksgiving, his personal life is secure. The outspoken libertarian came upon a like-minded woman in an online political chatroom. When they finally met at a weekend gathering ("I'm big on three-day parties," he says), they realized that not only had their mothers grown up near each other on downtown's Northwood Circle, but their family ties go back 150 years.

Is there marriage in his future? "I'm male and crotchety, and I like to play with guns," he says, "and I don't clean very much. So we get together at her place for three days each week, and that suits us both just fine."

One thing's certain. If that lucky lady ever has a question about any topic, she has the answer man at her side– three days a week.


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