James E. "Bo" Killian was born in Otto, WY on December 2, 1940. As a child, his family moved around
Arizona, where Bo was active in family businesses from the age of 7. He joined the US Navy at age 17
and served on destroyers patrolling between Hawaii and Alaska during the Cold War. Bo happened to be
in Alaska and Hawaii at the time they each became US states. Bo later graduated as the top enlisted man
in special forces training and then became one of the first Navy Seals. He served three tours in Vietnam
from 1963 to 1965, until sustaining a serious injury. Bo then elected to become a submariner and served
12 years in both diesel and nuclear submarines, touring under the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Bo loved
the Navy. He retired in 1978 as a decorated veteran, earning two Purple Hearts among many other
After a 21-year Navy career, Bo attended Texas A&I University in Kingsville and earned a teaching
degree in Industrial Arts. Despite having a distinguished military career, he was proudest of the work he
did teaching developmentally and emotionally challenged students. Many former students would visit him
after graduation to thank him for being such a strong and nurturing influence in their education.
Bo's favorite things in later life were road trips with Mary, sharing movies and watching San Antonio
Spurs games with family, and spending time with his grandchildren. Bo loved laughter and reveled in
sharing funny stories with people. He was a collector, treasure hunter, and tinkerer.
He encouraged all of his daughters to reject limitations based in traditional gender roles, raising them to
believe that they could be anything that they wanted to be.
Bo was preceded in death by his parents Ernestine Crowder and Oliver Guy Killian, his brothers Joe and
Guy, and his sister Veneita. He leaves behind his loving wife of 37 years, Mary Killian, with whom he
shared a love beyond measure. Bo was previously married to Ellie Killian, who also survives him. Though
this relationship was not permanent, they remained connected through their children.
Bo's daughters Theresa Guettler and husband August, Debbie Martinez and husband Joey, Sharon Hurt
and husband Jon, Janet Maher, Patricia Frost and husband Frank, Meredith Siegel and husband Sam,
Elisabeth Forsythe and partner Brian Przybyla, and Christina Marshall and husband Matt; 22
grandchildren; and 7 great grandchildren will mourn his passing.
James E. "Bo " Killian passed away peacefully on the morning of Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in the
company of his devoted wife, Mary. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name
to the American Cancer Society.
Memorial Celebration of Life will be held from 1-3pm on Sunday, April 2, 2023 at the Del Webb Hill
Country Retreat, 4550 Del Webb Blvd., San Antonio, TX 78253.