A private service took place at Graceland Cemetery in Milwaukee.
STURTEVANT – Mrs. Vera Louise Boedecker, 103, passed away at her home on Wednesday, June 2, 2021.
She was born in Milwaukee on January 9, 1918 to Ernst and Louise (nee Schwartz) Jennrich.
Mrs. Boedecker is survived by her children, Richard (Wendy) Boedecker, Carol Boedecker, Kenneth (Cindy) Boedecker and Rev. David (Jane) Boedecker; her grandchildren, Adam, Chris (Jenny), and Benjamin (Cristel) Boedecker, Sara (Kelley) Johnston and Emily (Eric) Perino; and great-grandchildren, Sabrina (Carson) Bunker, Annalysa Boedecker, Barnabas Boedecker and Abigail and Jonah Perino.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 57 years, Rev. Robert Charles Boedecker and son, Dr. Robert Allen Boedecker, parents Ernst and Louise Jennrich.
A private service took place at Graceland Cemetery in Milwaukee.
This was the eulogy given by her son, Rev. David Boedecker at her service.
103 years, 4 months and 22 days ago, mom entered this world. World War 1 (the war to end all wars) had just come to a close; a pandemic was raging—Spanish Flu had ravaged Europe and was spreading its death and misery into the United States, and closer to home—at home actually, mom was born in the midst of a blizzard—a snowstorm so fierce the streetcars weren’t running so the doctor never got there and a neighbor lady was pressed into service as an amateur midwife. Mom never mentioned it, but I suppose her father (our grandfather) like most husbands and fathers, at the time, was banished from the room, presumed to be in the way of what was strictly “women’s business.”
My how times have changed, I was going to say, but here we are 103 years, 4 months and 28 days later and the “war to end all wars” has been followed by another world war, a “police action” in Korea and an undeclared something or other in Vietnam, not to mention Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel— and not much has changed at all, even down to another pandemic savaging the globe. Ironically, the woman born without a doctor present, did herself deliver 2 of her own babies also without a doctor decades later.
“There is nothing new under the sun,” wrote the Preacher of Ecclesiastes—in some form or another, what has been still is and will be still.
None of you needs me to tell you what a remarkable woman mom was—you saw her in action doing what every devoted wife and mother did. She kept house. She cooked. She cleaned. She bandaged up her bloodied children. She tucked us in and woke us up. She was like the woman a little boy once described as the strongest woman in the world since every day he went to kindergarten she picked up the house.
None of those things made it to the evening news when she passed; the world did not take notice of her passing. She simply slipped away in her sleep. How like mom to leave this world without much fuss and bother, let alone the fanfare of even a simple funeral because she simply didn’t need it.
But we do. We need it. Not for the sake of saying “goodbye” because Christians never say “goodbye.” It doesn’t sound very spiritual, but gathered together in this little chapel, we are here to say to mom, “see you later,” because that is the unchangeable truth about her life. Baptized a few days after her birth, she was baptized into the loving arms of Jesus and into the Kingdom of God. I wonder whether she made a fuss that day or if she just slept through that holy bath, plunged into that watery grave by which we are reborn as children of God and inheritors of eternal life.
From that day on, she never “lived to herself” as St. Paul reminded the Romans, nor did she “die to herself.” Living or dying, faith clings to Jesus confident that no matter what, neither life nor death, nor anything awful in between can pry us from His loving hands.
Mom never belonged to us; she belonged with us but she belonged to our heavenly father, bonded together with His son and our big brother. That’s what Jesus promised in the Gospel we just read. “This is the will of my Father,” He said, “that all who see the Son and believe in Him may have eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day.”
Will we miss mom? Of course! Will memories continue to wander in and of our minds? Certainly—that’s what memories are for—they bring us back to our loved ones and we get to bask in their presence, if only for a little while.
As you know, Jane and I are in the process of moving. Well, we have moved—that much was done, even though we will be living in a cardboard jungle for quite some time. But there was something I had wanted to bring back to mom on the day we laid her to rest beside dad. But I could. It’s buried deep in the basement, or the garage or the spare bedroom. I know it’s there somewhere but for now, only God knows exactly where.
A really long time ago, I bought mom a necklace and a pair of earrings which to my mind were just about the most perfect thing I’d ever seen. They were blue and purple, sparkly and shiny and kinda chunky—nothing subtle about them. And she wore them! She wore them just as well as June Cleaver wore her perfect pearls.
But then there came a day when she handed me a box and said, “I think these should go back to you now.” And yup, there they were inside that box in all their gaudy, glitzy glory. I was going to tuck them into her casket in the hopes that she’d find them on that great day when Gabriel blows his trumpet and the earth gives up the saints who have slumbered in gardens just like here at Graceland. And once again she’d look at them and see beyond their plastic tackiness and again pronounce them beautiful. Because you see that’s what the resurrection will be—beautiful, with all things made new again.
I was going to find some memory more profound than that, but it’s just as well. I’d rather not dissolve up here in a puddle of tears. But let me redeem myself with this.
On the night Dad died (on her birthday, as you recall) we talked on the phone and she said, “It’s my birthday and my prayers were answered.” Those prayers she prayed for dad’s peaceful passing. And in all the years since then, whether her oft-repeated “I want my husband back,” or going to sleep each night with dad’s picture in her hands, you know what her prayers were all about—a peaceful passing to be with her beloved husband.
And so they were. They were answered as she took her final breaths in her sleep in this world, to awaken in glory—where there will be no more tears, no more death, no mourning or crying or pain. Your prayers were answered mom and we’ll “see you later.”