GAINESVILLE -- Cecil Boswell, a Gainesville icon and World War II hero who fought in the second wave invading Normandy on D-Day, died Sunday. He was 99.
Boswell was perhaps best known locally for marching in the annual Memorial Day parade wearing the U.S. Army uniform he wore when he was discharged from the service.
“He was the star of the show,” said Dave Dellinger, longtime parade organizer and American Legion junior vice commander. “We’re going to miss him. (The parade) is not going to be the same.”
“We were going to make him grand marshal again this year. We did it once about five or six years ago, and now we’ve got to change our minds on that.”
Short in stature and a bit feisty, Boswell would get emotional as he recalled his military service, including getting pinned down on the battlefield during the pivotal Battle of the Bulge after D-Day. He also fought to liberate Paris in 1944.
After the war, he returned to his native Gainesville.
Boswell kept his uniform in his bedroom closet and a framed panoramic photograph of his division on the wall in his living room next to his medals.
He also became a fixture at Big Bear Cafe on Main Street in Gainesville.
“He was my buddy. He was a neat part of the community,” general manager Chad Vaughan said Monday morning.
Arrangements will be announced later by Ward’s Funeral Home in Gainesville.