After serving in the Army, he graduated from Utica College in 1961 and managed public relations for the Wyandotte Chemical Company.
Lured into politics as a supporter of relatively progressive New York Republicans like Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and Senator Jacob K. Javits, he went to work for Representative Alexander Pirnie, an upstate Republican, becoming his chief of staff. He later held the same job for Mr. Pirnie’s successor, Donald J. Mitchell, also a Republican.
Mr. Boehlert ran successfully for Oneida County executive and, after serving a four-year term, was elected to Congress in 1982. His district, in Central New York, included Cornell University and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which helped account for the Yankee regalia in his office. Unlike many of his colleagues, he returned home to his district every weekend.
When he announced in 2006 that he would not seek re-election, he told The Syracuse Post-Standard that he regretted the widening partisan divisions in Washington.
“I came to Capitol Hill 42 years ago, and I have never seen a higher level of partisanship and a lower level of tolerance for the other guy’s point of view,” he said.
After Mr. Boehlert’s death, Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is the Senate majority leader, praised him for his “rich legacy, his support of science, his commitment to combating climate change, and his deep love” for his district.
Mr. Boehlert married Marianne Willey in 1976. Along with her, he is survived by two children, Tracy VanHook and Leslie Wetteland, and a stepson, Mark Brooks, from his marriage to Jean Bone, which ended in divorce; a stepdaughter, Brooke Phillips, from his wife’s first marriage; and six grandchildren.