Louise Boehme passed away peacefully May 1, 2012, in her home in Montrose, Colorado, at the age of 71. A memorial celebration will be held at her home at 16767 67.25 Road on Saturday, May 5 at 10:30 a.m. All friends are invited.
Louise was born on December 26, 1940, in Philadelphia to Elisabeth and William Keidel. She had an older and a younger brother. Louise grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended the University of Maryland where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in English and Philosophy; she was the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She married Walter Boehme in 1963 and they moved to the Clearwater, Florida area after their honeymoon in the American West, British Columbia and Alaska. Louise and Walt raised their children, Tracy and Jeff, in Clearwater and, later, in Brooksville, Florida.
Louise taught middle school and high school history, social studies and English for several years and later operated, with her husband, a retail feed and farm supply business, one of the largest in the nation. On their ranch outside of Brooksville, the family had a full compliment of livestock and poultry and raised American Quarter Horses. She was an active member and volunteer for several organizations including the Cattleman’s Association, Fair Association and Hernando County 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
Beginning in 1982, she was elected to the Hernando County School Board three times and served for twelve years. She was both Chairperson and Vice Chairperson and served on the local Dropout Prevention and Middle School Task Forces. She was active on the Partners in Education Advisory Committee and the Hernando County Education Foundation.
Louise also served on the Florida School Board Association. FSBA Committees that she chaired or was a member of include Nominating, Bylaws, Finance, Liaison, and Legislative. In 1989 she became its Treasurer. In addition, she worked extensively with the Small District Council and served as Chairperson of the group for two years. At the state level she served on the Instructional Materials Council and the Minimum Performance Standards Committee. Eventually she served on a federal Education Committee under the George H. Bush administration.
In 1988 she received the Dolores S. Parrott Middle School Award for “outstanding contribution to the middle school program in Hernando County.” She had previously been honored with the Hernando County Business and Professional Women’s “Woman of Achievement” Award.
In the 1990s, Louise took up white water canoeing, and moved to Farmington, Maine, where she canoed and camped often. Once she felt confident, she was dropped off by a bush plane in Iceland with a group of fellow explorers to canoe an uncharted river. She also became a real estate agent during this phase of her life.
Louise later lived in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, where she became an avid and accomplished African drummer and also studied Japanese Taiko drumming and Tai Chi. She earned a Graduate Certificate in Landscape Design from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During this time her political views changed, as did her areas of social activism. She worked at Madison Park Development Corporation, a non-profit organization providing affordable housing in a unique resident-led community in Roxbury, Massachusetts; her role was to design and establish community gardens. She volunteered regularly at Women’s Lunch Place, a daytime refuge for women and children who are poor and homeless, and also for Project Literacy, Child Abuse Prevention Project, and was a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) tutor. She was also an investor in and landscape designer for two significant, historic properties her daughter renovated.
In 2004, Louise moved to Montrose, Colorado, after falling in love with the San Juan Mountains, and bought a home with a picture window looking due south to them. Here she was able to divide her time among her passions – professionally creating unique landscape designs by integrating her knowledge of Feng Shui, and devoting time to community service. She was actively involved in the Montrose Newcomers Club, Montrose Botanical Society, the Uncompahgre Valley Association, the Western Organization of Resource Councils and Western Colorado Congress, on which she served on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer until 2009 when she was diagnosed with inoperable, Stage 4, lung cancer. She also co-owned the Silver Jack Mining Company Restaurant with her son, Jeff.
Louise has devoted the last two and one-half years of her life to living as healthfully as possible, learning as much as she could about natural health and healing the body. Thanks to her extraordinary effort, she substantially outlived her prognosis and the expectations of many doctors by using natural and non-traditional remedies.
Louise was a passionate world traveler by land and by sea. She cruised to Australia for the America’s Cup, to several countries in the Orient and South Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and to Alaska. On land she toured much of the United States, various parts of Mexico, numerous European countries, Africa twice and China. She traveled to Malaysia to study Feng Shui with Master Lillian Too, and on one of her African trips she studied drumming with native master drummers. She was privileged to study with Babatundi Olatunje, world-renowned drummer, educator and social activist, at Kripalu in Massachusetts.
Other passions were reading, gardening, watching sports, especially football, tennis, the Triple Crown races and other equestrian events, listening to classical music, exploring and studying the natural and human history of Western Colorado and surrounds, watching movies, and spending time with her grandchildren. She was also a staunch supporter of her children’s dreams.
Louise was a student of life with an almost unquenchable thirst for knowledge and information on a wide variety of topics and received great joy from sharing what she knew and helping others. Beginning in her early sixties, Louise began a practice of meditation and chi kung. She found great joy in exploring the spiritual and esoteric side of life. Her insatiable curiosity was one of her defining characteristics. She never stopped learning nor growing, despite her physical limitations. It was not uncommon, as she struggled to overcome the cancer, to hear people comment on what a “strong fighter” she was, and how upbeat she remained. She did believe “attitude is everything” and lived it even when the pain was great. She was a source of inspiration to many and a model of determination and will until her very dignified end.
After her diagnosis, Louise made one trip on her “bucket list” – with her daughter and grandchildren to New York City to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Remaining dreams were watching her grandchildren grow up, taking her grandchildren on African safari, riding the Orient Express and going to the New York Met for an opera performance.
Louise is survived by her brother Jim Keidel, daughter Tracy Boehme, son Jeff Boehme, two grandchildren, Amanda and Ella, and four nieces and a nephew.
In lieu of flowers or other gifts, the family asks that donations be made in her name to the Western Colorado Congress. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 1931, Grand Junction, CO 81502, attention Brenda Bafus-Williams.