Boepple remembered for love of history

Published 8:56 am Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Village of Edwardsburg has lost one of its iconic figures.
Edwardsburg Argus columnist and founder of the Edwardsburg Area Historical Museum, Jo-Ann Boepple, died in Tampa, Florida, March 9.
She was 81.
For 18 years, Boepple penned a column for the Argus, which usually highlighted the history of the community, that she truly loved.
She was born and raised in Mishawaka, Indiana, spending summers at Pleasant Lake as a child.
Boepple spent 27 years in education, first teaching in Niles before moving to Edwardsburg, where she was a teacher, assistant principal and director of community education.
She also taught at Southwestern Michigan College and at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo as an adjunct faculty member.
She wrote social studies curriculum objectives for the Michigan Department of Education and was a member of the Michigan Reading Association.
“Jo-Ann was in charge of community education and adult education,” Edwardsburg Superintendent Sherman Ostrander recalled. “She performed a variety of administrative roles when I arrived here my first year. From my perspective, she performed all of those roles extremely well. She was well regarded and respected.
“I found her to be an individual I was privileged to work with. She took that passion to the museum, and in recent years when people hear her name it has evolved from Edwardsburg Public Schools to the role that she played in founding the Edwardsburg Museum. I know she was deeply committed to her educational career and she took that same level of commitment in the establishment of a highly regarded museum. It is a significant loss. She has left a lasting footprint on our school community.”
But many people remember her passion for history, which led her to help create the Edwardsburg Area Historical Museum, where she served on the board of directors as well as its director.
“No one word can adequately describe Jo-Ann and her impact on the museum’s founding and development,” said long-time friend Barbara Dempsey. “But those of us who were led by her realize that no word other than ‘incalculable’ better expresses the loss her departure has created.
“Jo-Ann was always in the middle of a brainstorm. And one of her most significant probably occurred in 1998 when she queried fellow members at the Golden Age Club as to whether anyone was interested in starting a museum. And as soon as she realized there was interest in such a project, she wrapped her talents, her experience, and her enthusiasm around it and packaged it as her post-retirement career.”
Dempsey knows that Edwardsburg is a better place because of Boepple and her drive to preserve the village’s history.
“As a result, the museum is what it is today,” she said. “Those of us who remain have become historians in the making with challenges to continue growing the organization. We will look to Jo-Ann’s example in continuing to learn and lead, to document and preserve our community’s collective past and to share it with others.”
Boepple was also a member of numerous service groups and served the community of Edwardsburg on its Uptown Improvement Association board, a charter member of the village council and she served on the planning commission.
Complete funeral arrangements may be found on page 11.
A guest column written by her granddaughter, Leah Boepple, appears on page 4.