Remembering Albert W. Boss, 1960-2024

Family and friends are remembering Al Boss, and sharing this remembrance with his community:

Al Boss — an everyday hero who made people laugh with his sarcastic wit and irreverent sense of humor — died May 19. He was 63.

Boss was taken to Harborview Medical Center and put on life support after a fall. He was leaving a performance May 14 at the Salon of Shame, a theater in the International District showcasing bad writing from people’s adolescence.

Around 50 of his friends and family lined a hallway outside of the Intensive Care Unit of Harborview to say their tearful goodbyes. In his hand was one of his “Get out of hell free” cards. His son, Nathan, 25, knew he would appreciate it. Boss liked to give out these cards to people to cheer them up.

On LinkedIn, Boss referred to himself as a web developer, accessibility engineer, and a human Swiss Army knife. He prided himself on being a divergent thinker and was known for coming up with ingenious ideas.

Former colleague Elizabeth Inglese called Boss “seriously brilliant.”
“He had a way of problem solving that took all components of a situation into consideration. He could look at scenarios from a 50,000-ft view but also from a boots-on-the-ground perspective. With everything he did, he approached it thoughtfully, carefully, and with a light sense of humor.”

Boss’ friends and family describe him as a frustrated optimist who was passionate about his family, loved ones, and giving back to his community.

He was a longtime volunteer for the Seattle King County Clinic, a giant four-day free health clinic at Seattle Center that provides dental, vision, and medical care to anyone in the region who struggles to access or afford health care. Project Executive Julia Colson told the family Boss will be dearly missed. “He was incredibly kind, dedicated, funny, and always fully present, engaged, and thoughtful. We are incredibly grateful for the time he spent with us, his commitment to making the world a better place, and the bright light he brought with him wherever he went,” she wrote.
Boss was also a long-time volunteer for the Seattle chapter of the Red Cross in disaster services. He was a board member for Third Place Technologies, a sponsor of Electric Sky art camp, which he looked forward to each year.

He also volunteered at Creative Mornings – Seattle, was on the King County Library System Computer Advisory Group, served as the Puget Sound chapter president of the University of Missouri Alumni Association, and offered technical support to several nonprofit organizations, including Cancer Lifeline and Habitat for Humanity.

He taught web courses at South Seattle College and Cascadia College. One of his signature lessons was having students create a website that had the “worst user experience” to show students how they can often learn better from mistakes and what not to do.

He even opened his home to two young men facing housing insecurity and gave them stability and hope. One of those young men said Boss asked him what he wanted to do. He replied, “connect with people,” so Boss paid for acting lessons.

Boss knew life wasn’t easy. He grew up in Potosi, Missouri, a historical town of 2,500, located 72 miles southwest of St. Louis. His father, Marvin Boss, owned independent dry goods stores; his mother, Joyce Boss (Schneidman), managed the household. He was always the center point of their lives, and was also much loved by his older brother, Steven Boss, though they didn’t grow up together. He grew up with lots of open space and dogs, but he talked about being bullied for being Jewish, said his wife, Laura Duncan Boss.

One of Boss’ recent joys was discovering his birth relatives from DNA research. He was adopted and deeply enjoyed getting to know a new side of his family. He even spent the weekend before his death at the wedding of a nephew in California.

Boss graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in medical anthropology and community development. After graduating, he followed friends who moved to Seattle, and he met his wife in a French class at the University of Washington. She said they would talk in their cars for hours about everything. They were married in October 1991 in the Chinese Room at the Smith Tower. Their only child, Nathan, was born in 1998.

Laura Boss said her husband would take Nathan all over West Seattle as a baby and the two became such a favorite in coffee shops that Nathan asked if he could invite all the baristas at one coffee shop to his birthday party.

Boss started working with King County in 2005 on the web team. His colleagues said he spoke his mind in a clever way, using allegories, metaphors, puns, and clever acronyms. When arguing the case against pop-ups, he told a colleague, “How would you like it, if before you go shopping at Home Depot, you were asked if you would like to hear the history of Home Depot?”

Boss was admired for his passion for good user experience and accessibility. His interest was likely fueled by his own unique challenges. He had prosopagnosia, a condition where you have difficulty identifying people’s faces.

Recently, Boss became a dog dad after years of raising cats. A friend had asked his family if they would foster a German Shepherd she had rescued. But it was love at first sight. Boss and 73-pound Viktor, now 3, were inseparable and often traveled by bus to local dog parks.

Nathan Boss, who called his dad a saint and his best friend, said one of the greatest lessons he learned from his dad is to get creative, not mad. He said when his dad was in high school, he was tired of a kid stealing his spray deodorant so he disguised a can of spray paint with a deodorant label. According to his dad, the kid spray painted his armpits black and never bothered him again.

Albert W. Boss truly leaves the world a better place and has taught us all so much about having fun, giving back, showing up, and thinking outside of the box.

In memory of Al, the family asks that you become an organ donor, and find a way to give back to your community.

Al’s wife Laura was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If you would like to help with her current and future health-care costs, you can do so here.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries and memorial announcements by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to

8 Replies to "Remembering Albert W. Boss, 1960-2024"

  • Birgit June 16, 2024 (10:32 am)

    Thanks for posting this. Those of us who knew Al are still reeling from his loss. He truly was an everyday hero and is sorely missed. 

    • Steve smith June 17, 2024 (3:49 pm)

      Oh my god!  Janet just told me about this post.  I haven’t had time to process the information.  Do you know how Nathan and Laura are coping?  Can only hope he went out saying something sublime!

  • Alicia June 16, 2024 (12:35 pm)

    I first experienced the kindness of Al Boss second hand listening to my colleagues laugh and share his ridiculously thoughtful words and sometimes verse, expressing not only his thanks for their support on some issue but also how he much he appreciated them individually. I only knew Al for a brief time at King County, but every interaction with him was a delight and always left me smiling. Condolences to his family, friends, King County family, and the larger Al Boss universe that I just learned about from this beautiful remembrance. 💙💚❤️

  • Eden June 16, 2024 (4:12 pm)

    I’m incredibly lucky to have known this amazing human being. He was all that the obit says and more. I think Al had 2 million close personal friends and nearly that many amazing tales to tell. There is a huge hole where his quirky personality once stood. Goodbye dear friend. 

  • Fred June 16, 2024 (8:55 pm)

    Back when there were offices, Al and I worked next door, and would have the best discussions that would start out how to improve a work thing but usually broadened into a fascinating Socratic discussion about the bigger world within which we live and do our work, as the bigger part of working on bigger problems.What Nathan says about his being a saint is true, if he were Christian.  Al had an irreverent sense of humor, but he was driven to help people who needed it most, and quietly put his energy in to making people’s lives better in his jobs both paid and volunteer.  He was wicked smart but also truly good, which hopefully isn’t as rare as some might assume in times like these.If you can afford it, please consider chipping in to help Al’s family at the links at the end of his obituary.

  • Homer L Haynes June 17, 2024 (12:27 pm)

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Al Boss. However, based on the obituary, and comments from co-workers at King County, I missed out on a gem of a human being; and I am appreciative of his various contributions throughout his life. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the wonderful, Al Boss.

  • Chris June 18, 2024 (4:13 am)

    I did not know Al very well but each time I did meet him he exuded all the great qualities alluded to above. Such a smart, compassionate and engaged human being. 

  • Elizabeth "Tish" June 23, 2024 (1:35 pm)

    Such an excellent write-up about Al … he truly impacted so many people in so many different ways.  He is unbelievably missed by us all. 

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