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Henry Charles Boucha (Ogichidaa-Makwa Dodem) was a former NHL/Olympian player, a US army veteran, a Native American legend, a prominent Warroad Warrior, a proud dad, a brother, an uncle, relative and friend!
Henry was born on June 1st, 1951 at the Warroad Hospital to George and Alice Boucha. He had 8 siblings, Darlene (Jim Dorion), Phyllis (William Sargent), George, Dave (Tudy), Shirley (Stan Flick), Jim (Donna), Susan, and Ed (Linda).
Henry excelled in all sports including hockey, football, baseball, and track throughout his youth while growing up in Warroad. Henry played on the 1964 Bantam State Championship hockey team, was all-conference in football, baseball, and hockey, including three-time all-state in hockey. Henry graduated from Warroad High School in 1969 and is considered the most electrifying high school hockey player in the State of Hockey. Henry starred at both defense and center for the Warroad Warriors, rarely leaving the ice. He was a tall, powerfully-built Ojibwe, that led Warroad to the 1969 State Tournament, where he was injured in an emotionally charged 5-4 final overtime loss to Edina – one of the all-time classic games in Minnesota state tournament history. He is ranked #5 on Minnesota’s 100 Greatest High School Hockey Players and in 2019 the MSHS League named Henry as one of six players on the 75th Anniversary All-Tournament Team.
After high school, Henry signed a letter of intent for a full scholarship with the Golden Gophers but decided to play for the Winnipeg Jets of the Western Canadian Hockey League for the ’69 – ’70 season. Due to the Vietnam War, Henry was drafted by the Army in Aug 1970 and went to basic training at Fort Knox, KY. While in the US Army from 1970 to 1972, he competed internationally in the 1970 and 1971 World Championships, and 1972 Olympics earning a silver medal in Sapporo Japan for Team USA. Henry was drafted 16th overall in 1971 by the Detroit Red Wings and was the Red Wings Rookie of the Year in ‘72- ‘73. In 1973 while playing for the Red Wings “The Chief” gained acclaim for his headband. Just eight games after donning his new head gear, Henry set a Red Wings franchise record that remains on the books to this day. At the Montreal Forum on Jan. 28, 1973 Henry beat Montreal Canadiens goalie only six seconds following the opening faceoff, it is still the fastest goal ever scored by a Red Wings player from start of a game. After 1973 Henry continued to play professionally with the Minnesota North Stars, Minnesota Fighting Saints, Kansas City Scouts, and Colorado Rockies. He retired from hockey in 1976, unable to overcome his eye injury while with the North Stars. Henry was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.
Henry married his high-school sweetheart Deborah Bleau of Warroad in October 1969 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Tara Marie was born in Warroad in 1970. They lived in Winnipeg, Warroad, and Detroit during their time together.
Henry met his second wife Randi Peterson through mutual friends in Minneapolis after being traded from the Detroit Red Wings to the Minnesota North Stars. They were married May 9th 1975. They lived in Minneapolis/St. Paul area and later moved to Kansas City where Henry Jr. was born in 1976. After retiring from hockey, they moved to Spokane, WA where Bridgette was born in 1979.
Henry moved back to Warroad and opened a bar, named Henry’s Place. It was then that he met his 3rd wife Elaine Olafson in 1982. They lived in Idaho for 4 years and later moved back to Warroad, when Henry became a realtor with Pahlen Realty and later became Warroad Public Schools Indian Education Director. Their son Jean Paul (JP) was born in 1988.
It is important to note that Warroad has always been so very special for Henry. He cherished the small, close knit community and the memories of being a Warroad Warrior. So much, that although his children could have gone to any other schools, they all went to Warroad High School.
Most recently Henry moved back to Warroad, Henry had been living in the MSP area as realtor with Edina Realty and focusing on a film documentary project. Henry was an enrolled member of the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation, Ontario, Canada. He donated much of his time in helping advance Native American causes throughout the US including the NHL Diversity program with Willie O’ Ree, and more recently with the preservation of his beloved namesake “Warroad Warriors”.
Henry was involved with several organizations some examples include:
Herb Brooks Foundation Board of Directors
NHL/USA Hockey Diversity Task Force Program
Boucha Films, LLC & Kah-Bay-Kah-Nong Non-Profit
American Indian Education Coordinator Warroad School
American Indian Education Program Consultant at various Minnesota School Districts
NCARSM (National Coalition Against Racism In Sports and Media)
Ain Dah Yung Center (meaning “our home” in Ojibwe)
Warroad Youth Hockey Association
Warroad High School Athletic Hall of Fame
United States Hockey Hall of Fame (inducted 1995)
North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame (inducted 2022)
Henry is survived by his daughter Tara (grandchildren- Shalese, Sky, Gaabi and Doot of Warroad), son Henry Jr. of the Twin Cities (grandchild- Anderson of Warroad), daughter Bridgette (Mike Schulte) of Atlanta, GA, and son Jean Paul (JP) of the Twin Cities. Siblings Shirley (Stanley Flick) of Warroad and family, Jim (Donna) of Hutchinson and family and Ed (Linda) and family of Milwaukee, WI. He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Alice Boucha, siblings Darlene Dorion, Phyllis Sargent, George Boucha Jr, Dave/Tudy (Donna Mae) Boucha, and Susan Boucha.
A Traditional Anishinaabe Ceremony for Henry Boucha (Ogichidaa - Makwa Dotem) will begin Thursday September 28, 2023 from 5-9PM and will resume Friday morning from 10AM - 12:30PM inn the Gardens Arena.
A Remembrance Program for Henry will be Friday September 29, 2023 at 2PM in the Gardens Arena with lunch to follow. Visitation will begin at 1PM.
A Traditional Anishinaabe Burial will take place in Riverside Cemetery immediately following Friday's 2PM Remembrance Program and lunch.