If there was one job opportunity that would cause George Boller to leave The Mt. Pleasant News and his life-long home of Henry County, Iowa, it was The Daily Iowan – the student newspaper at The University of Iowa in Iowa City. Any chance for my dad to be closer to his beloved Hawkeyes was a no-brainer, and besides, I believe both my mom and dad felt like their jobs in Mt. Pleasant had plateaued. George had no opportunity for advancement with a small-town newspaper and my mom was pretty worn-out from wrestling with 7th graders in reading. I’m sure having your two sons as your students didn’t help!
In a letter, written much later, my dad wrote…
“Dixie had a belly-full of teaching junior high, and I was sick working with the (Mt. Pleasant) News. Small pay, and a lot of work. We never regretted the move to Iowa City. Dixie had a much better teaching situation at Mid-Prairie (Kalona) and my years with the Daily Iowan and later with University Printing Service, with pay and fringes that are unequaled in the private sector.”
So, effective Monday, December 6th, 1965, my dad hit the road (Highway 218) for Iowa City, making that daily 50-mile trip for six months until Saturday, June 4, 1966, when the school year ended and the Boller family moved to Iowa City.
With my brother, Eric, now on his own, the Bollers – George, Dixie & Martin – move into our brand new ranch home located at 175 Westminster Street – which at the time was built on the very eastern edge of Iowa City – the new Oakwoods Addition (see map below).
At the 100th Anniversary party (October 24-26, 1968) for the Daily Iowan, each person received a souvenir from Close Hall – a hand-made nail that went into the original construction in 1890. Click here to read more about Close Hall – Home of the Daily Iowan.
(P-0129) George’s new printing job with The Daily Iowan was in the basement of old Close Hall (see pics above) until 1968. I got my first job here (custodian) when I was a sophomore at City High. In the summer of ’68, the D.I. combined all of its printing operations into a newer building near the corner of Madison & Burlington Street, where The Lindquist Center stands today. All of the staff – including the custodian – had the fun job of helping move all of the heavy-duty printing equipment onto moving trucks. A big job, indeed.
(M-0098) Letterpress Printers Plate – The Great Seal of the State of Iowa. Here’s a great example of the type of work my dad did in the newspaper business. As a printer, preparing a page for The Daily Iowan, he’d bring together lines of type that made up each story, and then also insert pictures and graphics as well. Every piece, back in the day, was cast in lead and reversed, of course, so a good printer had to be very efficient in reading everything backwards. This small Great Seal of Iowa letterpress plate is a good example of the literally dozens of separate pieces that needed to come together in assembling just one page of a newspaper like you see below.
Dixie, who was well worn from teaching jr. high kids, or maybe just from having her two sons in her reading class, was ready to find a teaching job with younger, more agreeable children. Nothing opened up in Iowa City, but by the fall of 1966, my mom had secured a fifth-grade teaching position in the Mid-Prairie elementary school in Kalona, Iowa. After all these years, the Boller family returned to their Kalona roots!
After returning from his service with the Army (in Korea), Eric married his Mt. Pleasant sweet-heart, Marlene Van Tuyl. Read more about Eric here.
When moving to Iowa City, I was determined to be a “new person” – changing my name to Martin (instead of Marty). It must have worked. Iowa City was a great place for me to grow up and follow my dreams. You can read more here.
Once settled into Iowa City, and as a University employee, Dad, of course, had season tickets to both Hawkeye football and basketball games. Al Grady, Iowa City Press-Citizen sports writer, did a great write up on my dad in October 1976, as he was celebrating his 50th Iowa Homecoming. Through that connection, dad would occasionally contribute his two-cents on issues surrounding Hawkeye football, submitting editorial comments and articles to The Press-Citizen.
A real unique honor for my dad and me was in April of 1971, when the new Iowa football coach, Frank Lauterbur, invited us to fly down with him to Mt. Pleasant for his speaking engagement there. Lauterbur was familiar with my dad’s history in Mt. Pleasant (Eric Boller and the 1963 #1-rated team) and I know George was bursting with Hawkeye pride when the coach introduced his two new Iowa City friends to his wide-eyed Mt. Pleasant audience, which included Eric’s old football coach, Bob Evans!
During the 1970’s, computers brought radical change to the newspaper business, with the old-style linotype and the ‘hot-lead’ production process going by the wayside. With The Daily Iowan transitioning to “off-set” printing, my dad took the opportunity to transfer over to University Printing Service which still needed the unique skills of an all-round old-style printer. George finished up his printing career there, retiring in June 1986.
My mother remained in the Mid-Prairie school system for nearly twenty years, eventually retiring in the spring of 1986 from the first-grade classroom she came to dearly love.
In 1984, a new companion joined George and Dixie – Suzy Q the Boston Terrier.
In 1988, and again in 1993, George helped put together his 1938 high school class reunions in Wayland.
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.
Losing your mom to death has to be one of the hardest times in a person’s life. I remember my dad commented to me a few days prior to my mom’s death in 1990, “There’s one memory that will never leave you, Marty. The day your mom dies will stay with you the rest of your life.” I felt my dad’s pain mix with my own sadness that day as he remembered the loss of his mom while struggling to walk through the imminent loss of his life-partner, Dixie Lee. He was right. The loss of my mom still remains with me today and I look forward to being reunited with her in heaven.
(Above) Here’s my dad’s 1990 Christmas letter – written in January 1991. It includes my mom’s contributions to the newsletter made prior to her passing. See all of the Boller Christmas newsletters here.
We buried Dixie Lee (Boyer) Boller at Wayland’s North Hill Cemetery on a very cold wintry day in January, 1991. Another thing my dad told me during this sad time was that it was always cold & windy at North Hill Cemetery. I realized that all the important people in his life had been buried there in November (his dad), December (his mom and second son) and now January (his wife). One of my secret prayers that came out of this sad time was that my dad wouldn’t have to be buried there on a cold & windy winter day.
After my mom’s funeral, my father soon moved from their cozy home on Westminster St., trying out several different retirement communities, but indeed, he was never again a settled man without Dixie. We finally found a very nice home-based care center that felt more like home, and on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994, George Edward Boller died quietly in his sleep. Below is a copy of the Easter Sunday bulletin from St. Andrew – marked and ready to go – as Dad was an active member of the choir. Mr. Organization, Dad had two calendars – one for his church calendar and one for other details…
At age 72, we buried George at North Hill Cemetery, reuniting him with his beloved Dixie in his hometown of Wayland, Iowa. One of the biggest blessings that came to me during this loss was the fact that God had answered my prayer. It was on Easter Day (Resurrection Sunday) when my dad passed on and the day we laid him in the ground at North Hill was not the cold & windy day I had feared but a beautiful spring day with a gentle spring-time breeze! Praise the Lord!
George E. Boller (1921-1994), Dixie Lee (Boyer) Boller (1923-1990)
William Edward Boller (1948) and Eric H. Boller and Martin J. Boller – still kicking after all these years! Click here to read more about my two special brothers.
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.