Boeglin reflects on park board tenure


FERDINAND — As far as civic involvement goes, Dolores Boeglin figures serving on a park board is the most satisfying.

“Things are really positive,” Boeglin, 81, said. “Anything you do the public likes.”

Boeglin stepped down from the Ferdinand Park Board when her latest term ended on Dec. 31, after 20 years of service. Looking back over her two decades on the board, she knows she did a lot.

“You would not believe what all happened in 20 years,” she said.

Take Fifth Street Park — located just a few blocks from her home — for example. The playgrounds and ball fields were added during her tenure, new bathrooms were built and the concession stand and shelter house were refurbished. The board also started a tree management program for the park that involved removing potentially dangerous trees and replanting new ones.

“We always tried to plant more than we took out,” Boeglin said.

Tree management was a pet project for Boeglin. She sought many grants to keep the program going. Seeking grants was something Boeglin did a lot, Town Council President Ken Sicard said. Often, they were grants to pay for an idea she’d had.

“She was one of those proverbial fantastic board members that you get,” Sicard said. “She’d get ideas and she’d push for them.”

One idea she pushed hard to get done became the crown jewel of her time on the board: the Old Town Lake trail project that is currently wrapping up.

“For at least 15 of the years it was always in the back of my mind that we needed to do the Old Town Lake,” she said.

And she was determined to make it happen. Several years ago, Boeglin found a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund that would make the project possible. Back then, the town didn’t win the grant. But that didn’t deter Boeglin. She stayed on the board and kept the lake on the radar. Then, a few years ago, the town applied for the grant again. This time, the project won the grant. The project began in 2018 and will wrap up in the coming months.

Seeing the Old Town Lake project happen is Boeglin’s proudest achievement from her time on the park board.

“That’s why I got off [the board] now,” Boeglin said. “I do know that now it’s going to go ahead and go forward. And they’ll keep going.”

Boeglin admitted that had the Old Town Lake project not come to fruition, she would have sought another term, nevermind the fact that she would have been 86 years old when it ended.

“She was instrumental in keeping that passion for it,” Park Board President Matt Weyer said.

When Boeglin wasn’t doggedly pursuing her latest idea, she kept busy keeping the board’s records. For years, she handled the park’s budget and record keeping. Her meticulous work there made it easy for the next secretary to take over, Weyer said.

Boeglin also saw herself as the voice for less athletic park patrons. Many of the park board members are athletes, so facilities like the sports fields at Fifth Street Park and the disc golf course at 18th Street Park were a focus for them. Boeglin always tried to keep the board mindful of people who just want to come to the parks to walk or sit in the sunshine and quietness of nature. That’s part of why she pushed so hard for the Old Town Lake trail. Without sports fields and other facilities, she said, it will be a place for people who love nature. Redoing the trail at the 18th Street Park early in her tenure on the board also served that purpose, though the board also added two playgrounds, a basketball court and other amenities to 18th Street.

Boeglin’s time on the park board may be over, but she’ll still be involved around town. In fact, she always has been. She and her late husband, Jack, were born and raised in Ferdinand, and giving back to their community was important to both of them, she said. In the 1980s, Boeglin was part of the group that brought an ambulance station to Ferdinand and was one of the volunteer EMTs that staffed the station in its early days. She also got involved with the Dubois County Republican Party.

“There weren’t very many Republicans running for office, and that’s what got me interested,” she said. “I kept saying we needed a two-party system. Back then, it was almost strictly Democrats, and I thought, ‘Hey, we need to have a choice.’”

Today, She attends St. Ferdinand Catholic Church where she sings in the choir, does homebound visits and leads rosary and community church services at nursing homes. She sings with the Celebration Singers, too, and still works part time doing customer service for Best Home Furnishings.

“I’m not Suzy Homebody,” she said.

Her four children — Kurt Boeglin of Huntingburg, Todd Boeglin of Ferdinand, Brett Boeglin of Evansville and Stacy Woolston of Corydon — and 10 grandchildren keep her busy.

Boeglin isn’t completely finished with the park board. When the town holds a grand opening for the Old Town Lake later this year, Weyer said he’s going to make sure Boeglin is there, standing up with all the park board members as they open the newest addition to Ferdinand’s park facilities. Perhaps she’ll even stand next to Jill Schipp, the lady filling Boeglin’s vacant seat.

Like Boeglin, Schipp is a Ferdinand native. She and her husband, Brett, have three children — Blake, 4, Brock, 2, and Emma, 9 months — and they use the parks often.

“We have great parks in town already,” Schipp said. “I’m looking forward to doing what I can to make them better.”

Schipp will attend her first park board meeting in February.

More on