Jean Boese

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Elsie Jean McGivney "Jean" Boese
Jean Boese portrait.jpg
Jean Boese during the 1990s
Born (1925-01-19)January 19, 1925
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Died April 7, 2004(2004-04-07) (aged 79)
Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
Alma mater Tulane University
Occupation Poet; political activist
Political party Republican; former Republican National Committeewoman from Louisiana
Spouse(s) Herman Lamar Boese, M.D. (married 1946–2004, his death)
Children Robert Lamar Boese (born 1947)

Elsie Jean McGivney Boese (pronounced BOW-SE; January 19, 1925 – April 7, 2004), known as Jean Boese, was the poet laureate of Louisiana from 1972 to 1980, and from 1984 until her death. She was also the Republican national committeewoman from Louisiana, having served from 1968 to 1974. She was the first woman to serve on the Alexandria Civil Service Commission (1975–1979).

She was born in New Orleans to John Roderick McGivney and the former Elsie Buist. She graduated from the Louise S. McGehee School (a female academy) in New Orleans in 1942. In 1945, at the age of twenty, she graduated from the former H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, the women's division of Tulane University. On May 20, 1946, she married Herman Lamar Boese (June 28, 1924 – February 26, 2004). The couple moved to Alexandria, where Dr. Boese, a proctologist, established his medical practice.

Louisiana Poet Laureate[edit]

Boese was first appointed as poet laureate by Democratic Governor Edwin Washington Edwards, Republican Governors David C. Treen and Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., renewed her appointment during their terms of office and Edwards retained her services during his third term, 1984–1988. See two samples of her work at the end of the article. Boese's poem "Leadership" is the official poem of the Louisiana State Senate.

Civic leader[edit]

In 1975, three Democratic city commissioners (Mayor John Kenneth Snyder, Finance and Utilities Commissioner Arnold Jack Rosenthal, and Streets and Parks Commissioner Malcolm P. Hebert) named her to a vacancy on the Alexandria Civil Service Commission. This body hears grievances from city employees who wish to challenge dismissals, demotions, or changes in job duties and descriptions. She served on the review board of the Alexandria Zoning Commission from 1979 to 1984.

On the state level, she was a member of the Commission on Indian Affairs, Commission on Salaries for State Judges, and the Election Code Commission.

She was a social worker for the American Red Cross in New Orleans between 1945 and 1946. She taught exceptional children for a time in New Orleans. She did script writing for the Tulane University educational television channel. After she relocated to Alexandria, she was a member of the St. Frances Cabrini Hospital Auxiliary and the Rapides Parish Medical Society. She was a former member of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Altar Society and served on the Human Rights Committee of St. Mary's Training School for Retarded Children in Alexandria.

Republican Party politics[edit]

Boese was the first woman appointed as vice-chairman of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee and served a full decade, from 1964 to 1974. She was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1964 and in 1968, which met in San Francisco and Miami Beach, respectively. Besides her six years as GOP national committeewoman, she was a member of the site selection committee of the Republican National Committee in 1971. The committee initially chose San Diego for the convention, but when problems resulted over the financing of the convention, the site was once again Miami Beach.

In the 1976 campaign, Boese remained neutral in the fight between President Gerald R. Ford and former California Governor Ronald W. Reagan. The Louisiana caucuses in May had gone heavily for Reagan. She was quite optimistic that Ford, who emerged the nominee (with Senator Bob Dole of Kansas as his running-mate) from the convention that met in Kansas City, would yet defeat Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter: "The more I read those polls {with Carter far in front}, the more optimistic I am. I am expecting a Democratic Dewey, and I can hardly wait," she said, in reference to former New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, who lost the presidency in 1944 and 1948, though he had been favored in nearly all polls in the latter contest.

Her poem "Leadership"[edit]

Boese's "Leadership" is the official state poem of the Louisiana State Senate:

It is easy to bend with the wind and be weak,
Wrapped in silence when it would take courage to speak,
To do nothing when crises demand that you act;
To prefer a delusion to unpleasant fact.
But the easy evasions that dreamers embrace
Are denied to a leader with problems to face.
He must cope with the world as he finds it, and plan
To make each hard decision as well as he can.
He can't hide from the truth or deny what is real.
Though a lie might assuage all the fears people feel.
For the truth is the truth, and no lie can prevail.
In a world that is real, one must face truth or fail.[1]

"Louisiana", the poem[edit]

Her best known poem, "Louisiana," was read at the dedication of the Louisiana Archives Building in 1987. The poem is especially poignant to natives of Louisiana:

I love Louisiana with its cotton fields and trees
And the Spanish moss that flutters with the slightest bit of breeze.
I love the fields of sugar cane, the grazing cattle herds,
The sweet scented magnolias filled with brightly colored birds.
I love the lazy bayous that meander through the state,
Where bass and bream and speckled perch and crawfish lie in wait.
I love the mighty rivers that flowed where we now tread,
Atchafalaya, Mississippi and the clay filled Red.
I love the forests filled with game, I'm proud that from our soil
Come shrimp and oysters from the Gulf, and sulphur, salt and oil.
I love the lush green levees stretching far as eyes can see.
Louisiana has my love, because it's part of me.

Her obituary[edit]

Herman Boese had preceded his wife in death by some seven weeks. He died on February 16, 2004. He had been his wife's caregiver in her last years. They were Catholic.

Herman shared his wife's political leanings. In 1966, he was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the Rapides Parish School Board, along with future U.S. District Judge Nauman Scott and future Republican national committeeman and Louisiana state GOP chairman John H. Cade, Jr. At time there were six at-large seats on the body, but by the 1970s the board had converted to single-member districts.

At the time of her death, Boese was survived by her son, Robert Lamar Boese (born 1947), daughter-in-law, Dierdre Digiglia Boese (born 1957), and granddaughters, Erin and Kelly Boese, all of Broussard in Lafayette Parish.

Boese was succeeded as poet laureate by Brenda Marie Osbey of New Orleans, who was appointed by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco in 2005.