Isabelle Marie Boldt

Honored by:R.F. Boldt
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Isabelle Marie Christiansen Boldt

Isabelle Marie Christiansen was born on September 9, 1906 in Muscatine, IA, to Edward Christiansen and Eva Knapp Christiansen. A better-than-average student, she attended the Muscatine public schools, graduating in 1923 from high school where she met her future husband. Following graduation, Isabelle was employed by the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company as a long distance operator, supervisor, and evening chief operator. She remained with the phone company for four years until 1928 when she married Frederick Dietrick Boldt after his graduation from a Lutheran seminary.

Following her marriage, she devoted herself to church and family for 63 years until her death at 89 in 1995. From 1928 to 1930 Isabelle and Fred lived in Tipton, IA, where he was pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. By the end of 1929, Isabelle had a new baby and the nation had just entered a severe economic depression. As a pastor, Fred's income depended on voluntary contributions to the church--it was clear that rough times were ahead.

In 1930, the family moved to Fort Madison, IA where Fred became pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church. It became immediately apparent that St. Paul's must either attain financial independence from Synodical support, or the doors would have to close. Despite the depression, St. Paul's achieved independence during Fred's pastorship, with Isabelle taking many leadership positions even through pregnancy. A second child was born in 1935. The family remained in Fort Madison until early 1937.

From 1937 through 1951 the family lived in Newton, IA where Fred was pastor of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. Again, the church grew substantially in membership. This growth was a success, but Circles and Sunday School require a great deal of attention, much of which came from Isabelle. As in Fort Madison, Isabelle was equal to the increased need for effective leadership on a person-to-person basis, and the members held her in great esteem. It was said of her that it was a wonder how a person " ... can sing, teach, lead a choir, keep a nice home, raise a family, and be as pleasant as our pastor's wife ... "

In 1951, the family moved to Fremont, Nebraska where Fred became pastor of Salem Lutheran Church. As did the church in Newton, Salem grew in size with Isabelle again playing her many roles. At this time it was recognized that Isabelle's effectiveness in the pastoral team of Fred and Isabelle stemmed in part from church members recognition that she was a person of character. Knowing this, when Salem dedicated major additional construction in 1963, Fred made his own dedication: "To my wife, Isabelle, whose love, patience, and understanding have helped me weather many a storm through the years, and who has helped me to find again the courage to say and do what I believe to be right, regardless of the consequences."

During the 1960s both children married, and Fred's health declined. In 1971, Fred died. Fred's loss after 43 years was devastating to Isabelle. Not only was she without his companionship, but she had to move from the parsonage. Also, she took on the difficult role of "pastor's widow." At one time when Fred had a retired pastor in his congregation, Isabelle learned of the potential problems. Therefore, she made it a point to be active without being an activist. She attended faithfully, taught Circle, and played the piano for some occasions well into her 80's. She set a positive example for other church members. After losing Fred, Isabelle widened her circle of acquaintances to include some very close friends. These were relationships that lasted the rest of her life.

That Isabelle was admirable is apparent in the foregoing facts of her life. Within the limitations enforced on women of her time and station, she was a constructive and respected citizen. She was well respected by those who knew her, and that respect affected the rest of her family as well. Her much-admired character related in part to her honesty with all people. She would not lie, and where appropriate, would see that the truth were known. But if that truth were uncomfortable, she would usually put it in a positive way, perhaps as a helpful suggestion. And if that truth were part of some situation that she knew she might not fully understand, she kept her thoughts to herself. In part also her character related to the fact that she could be trusted. One could leave a possession or a confidence with her, knowing that it would be treated with respect. Her high regard for honesty and trust was transmitted to her children. We have tried very hard to pass it on.

Isabelle's strength of family feeling was recognized and respected. Though her children and grandchildren migrated over the east, midwest, and south, and all felt that Fremont was a home place, and all regarded her with respect and love.

Thus it was with deep concern that we learned of the aortic aneurism discovered during her 88th year. It was typical that she immediately and very throughly put her affairs in order. When the aneurism began to grow, Isabelle's death was expected within hours. It was regarded as something of a miracle when she hung on for a week while the family gathered. Eventually her children, all six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren came to Fremont. It was as if she waited for us all to come so she could see us one last time. On October 30, she left us.

We miss you, mom.

R.F. Boldt '51, '53

Paver Inscription:
"Isabelle Marie Boldt
She Inspired us All"