100 Years – Dixie Lee Boyer Boller – 1923-2023.

It’s January 1, 2023. Another new year begins, and in all honesty, for a 71-year-old guy like myself, another new year is just that. Yawn. One more new year.

But wait. January 1, 2023 is not just one more Day 1 of a new year – it’s actually the 100th birthday of my mom – Dixie Lee (Boyer) Boller.

As you might know, I’ve written a lot about my mom & dad – George & Dixie Boller – and you can access the full list of posts here. So, here today, I simply want to express my love and gratitude to this amazing fiery redhead with the southern name – Dixie Lee Boyer – from Trenton, Missouri.

Born to William Hollis (Hollie) and Edith Mae (Edie) Agee Boyer on January 1, 1923 in Trenton, MissouriDixie Lee Boyer was an only child. Located about 80 miles northeast of Kansas City, Trenton was a thriving train-switching hub community during the heyday of the railroads. William Hollis was a hard-working railroad man, laboring for the Rock Island Railroad for most of his adult years (1898-1951). Click here for more about the Boyers, the Rock Island railroad, and Trenton, Missouri.

In Trenton, my mom, Dixie Lee Boyer, recalls the blessing of her dad, William Hollis Boyer, always having a steady job with the Rock Island Railroad. Throughout the depression years, while the country’s economy would ebb and flow, the one certainty was that the railroad kept running. Living very close to the Rock Island rail yards, it was very common for the Boyers to have unemployed men, and sometimes even whole families, drop by their home at 1913 Lulu Street, asking for a meal or a lead on any kind of work. My mom told me that while times were tough, Hollie and Edie Boyer would always have some extra food on hand to give away to those in need.

After graduating from high school in the spring of 1940, Dixie attended Trenton Junior College. In those days, a degree from a junior college was much more education than many women would aspire to, but Dixie Boyer just wasn’t your average woman!

Dixie thrived in her educational pursuits, and after graduating from Trenton Junior College in 1942, she transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Her aunt and uncle, Jay and Hazel Wilson, lived in Denver, so it was a natural fit for this adventurous Missouri girl to go off to the Rocky Mountains to pursue her dream.

Click here to read a sweet letter from Hollie Boyer to his daughter at CU in 1943.

During the early days of World War II, immediately following Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) the United States government was very concerned about possible Japanese air strikes on the west coast of America. In order to “protect” the country from possible sabotage, a great injustice occurred – with every American citizen of Japanese descent who was living on or near the west coast was ordered to surrender homes, businesses and belongings, and then be relocated to ten different make-shift internment camps set up in the western mountain states of the United States.

In an effort to make this atrocity in American history more palatable to the public, the U.S. Government hired other American citizens to help make this make-shift community more livable. One such person was my mother, Dixie Lee Boyer, who after graduating from the University of Colorado in the spring of 1944, was offered a teaching job that paid $2,400 per year, plus room and board, working with hundreds of young Japanese-American children. Read more here.

In retrospect, I’ve often wondered why my mother took this job in such a “hell-hole.” In 1944, any woman with a four-year degree in education, like Dixie had from the University of Colorado, could have secured any choice position from countless opportunities across the country. Yet, interestingly, Dixie chose to take her first teaching assignment in this desolate setting of Heart Mountain, Wyoming, working in what was, essentially, a prison camp for Japanese-American families. The only answer I can come up with goes back to her upbringing, where in the Rock Island railroad switching yards of Trenton, Missouri, she learned from her parents how to have practical compassion for those who had less than her family had. For Dixie, teaching young Japanese-American kids who lived in cold, barren army barracks was the same ‘good work’ of God as offering a bite of food to a hungry family traveling the rails during the worst years of the depression. Click here to read more about growing up during the Depression years.

So, in the fall of 1944, in the PX (recreation center) of this U.S. Government “prison-camp” called Heart Mountain, my mother and father met for the first time. As my mom told the story, she “knew” with certainty, the very first moment she saw this handsome young soldier from Iowa, that she was going to become his wife! Click here to read some love letters between Dixie & George.

Apparently, things moved along pretty quickly, because by spring 1945, George and Dixie took a quick three-day leave from Heart Mountain and were married at 4:35 p.m. in a Presbyterian parsonage on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1945, in nearby Billings, Montana.

Following the war, my mom and dad returned to the Midwest – settling into my dad’s hometown of Wayland, Iowa. My older brother – Eric – was born in 1946, and sadly, my second brother, William, lived for only one day in 1948. Read more here. Dixie would often recall this devastating loss of life, but the tragedy didn’t keep her from being one of the most joyful and hope-filled people I’ve known. I believe much of that can be credited to her strong faith in God.

I came along in 1951, and by 1957, when our family moved to Mt. Pleasant, Dixie took up teaching again, working full-time while also caring for her beloved family. Read more here.

After nine years in Mt. Pleasant, the Bollers moved to Iowa City (1966) where George & Dixie thrived. Here’s mom & dad at our new home located at 175 Westminster Street. Read more here.

Mom found a new teaching job at the Mid-Prairie Community Schools in Kalona – driving the 20 miles between Iowa City and Kalona on a daily basis.

In 1985, Dixie & George celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary. What a beautiful day it was!

Keeping up their home on Westminster Street while serving the Lord faithfully at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church (located on the west side of Iowa City near Kinnick Stadium), kept my parents’ life full and complete until sickness prematurely ended their time together before they could enjoy many years of retirement.

My mother, Dixie, collapsed from a weakened lung on October 24, 1990. By Christmas time, she lay dying at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. On December 31, 1990, one day before her 68th birthday, she went to be with the Lord. I was in the hospital room with her the moment she passed on. We buried Dixie Lee (Boyer) Boller at Wayland’s North Hill Cemetery on a very cold wintry day in January, 1991.

My heart still breaks that we lost her so many years before she was able to fully enjoy her loving family, seeing it grow and expand.

Yup, Dixie Lee Boyer Boller was one shining star in Our Boller Family Story. She was a light to us all – bringing her quiet strength, her strong faith, and her Missouri-stubborn resilience to us all. One amazing lady. One beautiful soul.

Today, Mom – on this – your 100th birthday – January 1, 2023…

We say THANK YOU and May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You. See you on the other side!

George E. Boller was born on May 11, 1921. Read my salute to his 100th birthday here.

If you’d like to read more about Dixie L. Boyer Boller… Click here.

George E. Boller, Find-A-Grave

Dixie L. Boyer Boller, Find-A-Grave

Click here to go on to Boller Generation Six.

Click here to go back to the menu page…