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March 26, 2009

Hail, hail this freelancer's life

 

In January, "The Lutheran" ran a fun little one-page story about a group of Luther Leaguers in Nebraska who had been ringing in the New Year together for decades. You might have read "Hail, hail the Luther League
gang's all here"
or at least remember the photo of members blowing their noisemakers and donning their hats.

The photographer hired to take the photo was a no-show not once but twice. But the writer, Beth Bohling, took matters into her own hands, apologized to the folks who'd gathered for a photo that was never shot, and took the photo herself. I didn't know Beth, who I communicated with via e-mail, though I liked the story she pitched. In fact, maybe it was because her name was Beth and not Mildred, that I thought she was younger than she was.

This week the convener of the Luther League "gang" told me Beth's funeral was March 17. Beth was found dead outside her home in Superior, Neb., on March 11-the same day a package arrived at her home for yet
another assignment from the Hastings Tribune, according to editor Andy Raun, who wrote a wonderful tribute to Beth's career with the Tribune (link opens a .pdf). Beth was 86.

On the funeral home's Web site former students have remembered how their lives and careers were touched by Beth's teaching. Beth was the first graduate of the master's degree in journalism at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln. In 1986 she was one of five finalists for Nebraska Teacher of the Year. And when she reached normal retirement age she gave up teaching and returned to journalism. In 2002 on the day of her
husband's funeral, and a week after she turned 80, she assured Andy Raun she had every intention of continuing to work as a journalist.

He was glad to hear it, and you and I were recipients of her work and spirit. My colleague Liz even has a piece Beth recently turned in to her for a future issue.

Writers and names come and go in this business, and we often communicate by e-mail, sometimes the phone, rarely in person. Beth is certainly one of those I wish I'd met in person. 

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