William Rudolph Boerder
August 22, 1929 – May 14, 2020
William Rudolph "Bill" Boerder died on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at the age of 90 years old. He'd been under hospice care at the Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons in Aurora, Colorado, for almost a year.
The son of Frank J. Boerder and Julia A. Wolfe, he started his life in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 22, 1929, and spent his early years in Shaker Heights. A born instigator, he was known to sneak out of the house early in the morning to visit the firehouse down the street, climb on the truck and ring the bell until neighbors came to take him home.
At the age of 5, he and his three siblings Betty, Gene, and Bobbie, were sent to live in area children's homes. He entered the Parmadale Orphanage in Cleveland, where he lived for seven years until he and his siblings were retrieved by their father. They had a whole new life in Dallas and three more sisters were born, Dolores, Norma, and Loretta. He doted on them unabashedly.
Bill spent his teenage years between Dallas and Austin, graduating from St. Edwards Academy in 1947. He worked part-time at the local airport fueling planes, and his lifelong love affair with flying began. He got his pilot's license in 1945 at the age of 16 and passed that passion to his children and grandchildren who still fly today. Bill loved all things electrical and in Junior High school he used a cigar box to build a portable radio.
So it’s no surprise that Bill served in the Navy as an electrician on the USS Toledo from 1947 to 1950. He did a tour in the South Pacific and was injured in an electrical explosion. He was honorably discharged from the Navy and started Mortuary School at Baylor University outside Dallas.
Here he met his first wife, Norma, who was studying to be a nurse. Bill worked as a Funeral Director for several years, married Norma, and they had two sons Bill and Scott.
In 1957 Bill led the Electrical Contracting Team working on Martin’s new Titan I ICBM Missile Factory in Waterton Canyon near Roxborough, Colorado. He met his second wife Julie and returned to Texas. Some years later, they married and had three more children, Tony, Catherine, and David. The family of seven lived in Dallas until 1977.
A fearless tinkerer, Bill took most ideas a few steps further than absolutely necessary, so we never really knew how a project would turn out. But this one, for a fountain with a flame that burned on the water's surface, was a big hit. He patented the Aqua Flame Fountain in 1961, and it was featured in ¬landscape designs for hotels in Dallas, and later Las Vegas.
Bill led an adventurous life with his family in tow. He worked for Jack Ruby doing electrical repair and elevator service at the Sovereign Club in Dallas. He and a fellow businessman flew a relief mission to Nicaragua after the earthquake there in 1972. In 1973, he drove the family to Colorado for summer vacation to visit Julie's family and start construction on a new cabin in Gilpin County. Working on it only three weeks a year, construction was slow. So the family moved to Colorado in 1977 to spend more time on the cabin and be closer to Julie's family.
By the late 1990s, Bill and Julie were getting restless. With the kids grown and some having kids of their own, they moved to Keystone, Nebraska, to retire - but started a business with their son, Tony, instead. Ogallala's newest flooring business kept them busy until Julie's death in 2006.
Bill moved back to Denver and entered the VA Nursing Home in 2018, where he was occasionally ornery with the nurses, danced and sang with the local bands, and enjoyed the crap out of any meal that wasn't nursing home food. Bill saw a lot of death in his time. Mortuary license aside, he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to avoid a disaster, save a life, or hold space for someone beyond help. And he had so many near misses himself, that in his final days it was hard for him to imagine that he might finally be at the end of his road. He fought to the very end. It’s all he knew how to do.
To know Bill was to have experienced a whirlwind firsthand. A loveable rogue, mad genius, consummate storyteller, insufferable worry wart, a sage of sarcasm, unabashed charmer, gifted pilot, irreverent jokester... He'd rather goad you into a belly laugh or sweet sentimental moment, but he'd settle for making you mad. Bill was happiest while stirring things up and leading group 'projects' - some advisable, some not. Towards the end of his life, it became clear that all of this was Bill’s earnest attempt to engage – to love and be loved as genuinely as possible. The story of Bill's life cannot well be encapsulated in written prose; it's like trying to write about lightning in a bottle. Bill was unique and extraordinary in so many ways, like encountering bold italics on a page of regular print, standing out in contrast to normalcy. As Mae West famously wrote, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
Bill was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Julie; son, David; brother, Eugene "Gene"; sisters, Elizabeth "Betty," Barbara "Bobbie," and Norma.
Bill is survived by his children, Bill (and Kelly) Boerder, Scott (and Michele) Boerder, Tony Boerder, and Catherine Boerder; five grandchildren, Brandon, Ryan, Alisha, Dawn, and Troy; six great-grandchildren, Mariah, Julia, Chloe, Mia, Liam, and Payton; sisters, Dolores and Loretta.
A memorial has been established in Bill's memory for later designation. Condolences may be shared at prairiehillsfuneralhome.com.
Services will be held on Friday, May 22, 2020, at 3 p.m. at Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary in Centennial, CO. Graveside services will be held on Friday, June 19, 2020, at 2 p.m. at the Ogallala Cemetery with Pastor Bill Forbes officiating.
Attendance to the service at Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary will be limited so the service will be streamed through zoom. Please use this link to view the service via zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86255855728?pwd=V2xUcUVsL3BUeW5pN1lVenBzcnNLQT09 Meeting ID: 862 5585 5728 Password: 287165
Funeral Service - Attendance is limited - please see information listed above regarding attending virtually
Friday, May 22, 2020
William Rudolph Boerder
May 21, 2020
It has been a privilege for me to have gotten to know Bill this year. His life stories, humor and obvious regard for those he felt around him paint a person who gratefully and intentionally embraced all of life-- accepting its offerings and challenges alike.
My condolences to the entire family at the loss of your father and patriarch.
May 19, 2020
I met Bill while a nurse at the Veteran's Community Living Center at Fitzsimons. It was my honor to give back to a Vet. He was a delightful man with a wonderful smile and good sense of humor. We will all miss him.