Wayland, Iowa – circa 1930’s.
Waldo’s obituary mentions some other interesting facts… “Mr. Boller served his community as secretary of the Wayland schools, secretary, board member and chairman of the Community Club. From time to time, Mr. Boller held various offices in the Sunday School and in the Mennonite Church. He invariably was a member of the church or civic quartets in which he sang baritone.”
Watching over a retail business during these years was an equally intense job. Fortunately, Waldo was able to keep the furniture and undertaking business intact during these very difficult years, but not without it taking its toll on Waldo. Between the internal pressure he felt to keep the business going plus the strain of working under the watchful and sometimes unyielding eye of his father, Daniel, the pressures caused Waldo to be very susceptible to hopelessness and despair. Like many others during the worst of moments, Waldo turned to alcohol to ease his tension and pain. Finally, under the veil of poor health and nerves that were brittle-thin, Waldo E. Boller succumbed to a premature death at age 57 on November 22, 1941.
My father George, who loved his dad, Waldo, very much, wrote these kind words about his father in a letter to his mother, Olive, written on March 10, 1945 (just one week before George’s marriage to Dixie Boyer). George wrote…
“I hope that we will be as happy as you and dear old Waldo were. I know that sometimes you had troubles, but it wasn’t really either of your faults. Poor Dad did drink too much for a while, but I’ll never hold that against him, for I’m afraid that under the circumstances, many people would have done far worse than he did. I’ll always marvel at the fortitude and patience he had with his horrible old father. That was almost an unbearable cross to bear. He was a wonderful husband and father, Mom, and how he remained so cheerful when everything was going against him, I’ll never understand. I’ve told Dixie about him, and said if he were alive, he’d be just tickled to death, and would love her like his own daughter. You know, that is just the way he would have been, too…wouldn’t he?”
North Hill Cemetery, Wayland, Iowa.
Waldo is buried with his father, Daniel and two other generations of the Boller family in North Hill Cemetery on the northern outskirts of his hometown of Wayland, Iowa. May he and his dear father, D.J. rest in peace.
1940’s – 1960’s Olive Boller: a woman of great faith.
My grandmother Olive lived on until ill-health took her from her long-time Wayland home in 1968. I have many sweet memories of spending time with my grandmother, Olive. She was a very strong Christian and I thank God for her willingness to tell me about the Bible and the stories of Jesus that changed her life so very much.
Olive and her father, Hiriam H. Hulme (circa late-1940’s) Olive with her three surviving brothers in the 1960’s.
I’m also appreciative of Olive’s willingness to stay strong during her dark hours and finish strong to the end of her days. She lived in a nursing home in Iowa City until she passed quietly into death at age 82 on December 20, 1969. She is buried with her beloved husband Waldo in North Hill Cemetery north of Wayland.
Waldo & Olive’s home as it now looks in Wayland, Iowa.
Let me interject, if I may, some personal insight at this time. I did not have the great honor of meeting my grandfather, Waldo Emerson Boller. His premature death preceded my birth by ten years. Unfortunately, my father, George, never talked much to our family about his father, Waldo and his relationship with him. Obviously, my dad was hurt for the way his father had to suffer during his life. Many times in our pain, we look for a person or a place to shoulder the responsibility for that pain and obviously my father blamed his grandfather for most of his dad’s struggles. Being a father of four children myself, I know it can be very difficult at times for a father to completely bless and release his children, letting them “make it or break it” on their own. Apparently, for father, Daniel, and son, Waldo there were on-going family tensions that, I would guess, made life very difficult for both of them at times. Add in the immense outside pressures of the Great Depression and the Midwestern Dust-Bowl and we have a formula for failure and pain.
The words my father, George used when he wrote about his late father, Waldo to his mother, Olive are full of life and passion. I found myself in tears when I first read them. You see, I don’t ever remember a time when my father was ever able to clearly communicate to us the strong emotions I see in his written words. I regret that he was unable to talk about his pain and shame concerning his father, but what’s even more disappointing is that he was equally unable to share with us his even greater love and support for his father that I see written in his letter.
Waldo, Olive & George Boller.
As future Boller generations read Our Boller Story, I encourage you strongly to never be so ashamed of your failures or disappointments that you are unable to talk those feelings out with your family. Our Boller Story is like any other family story. We have great victories to talk about but we also need to discuss our failings and times of defeat as well. It’s my hope that you will learn from Our Boller Story and never be ashamed or fearful of opening up your feelings about your life experiences to each other. As I understand it, that’s one of the reasons God brought family together, so we can both celebrate our joys and walk out our pain hand-in-hand, trusting that God will bring us through it all.
Waldo Boller Wayland News obituary in November, 1941.
In closing this chapter, I quote from Waldo’s obituary from the Wayland News…
“(Waldo’s) unselfishness and devotion in cooperating and assuming leadership for many of the improvements in Wayland and surrounding community makes all citizens here, in anyway connected with these various civic betterments and improvements, bow in honor as well as in sorrow to the memory of a man who played so important a part in the inception of these progressive institutions.”
They are not gone who pass
Beyond the clasp of hand,
Or from the strong embrace,
They are but come so close we
Need not grope with hands;
Nor look to see, nor try
To catch the sound of feet,
They have put off their shoes,
Softly to walk by day
Within our thoughts, to tread
At night our dream-led paths of sleep.