The School District of Elmbrook and the community are mourning the loss of longtime Brookfield Central principal John Boie, who served in his role from 1957 to 1988. Boie died Dec. 23 at the age of 88.
Current Brookfield Central principal Brett Gruetzmacher said Boie's tenure at the school began shortly after Central was founded. When the school was first built, the area was certainly less developed than it is now. As the area began to be built up, especially in the early 1970s, Boie helped take the school through amazing growth, said Gruetzmacher.
During such a long career, Gruetzmacher said he can only imagine the amazing changes Boie would have seen not only in the education landscape but in Brookfield Central.
"He was here really as this school grew,” Gruetzmacher said.
Through that growth, Boie helped bring on new curriculum, new programs, and Title IX, which allowed girls to participate in sports.
“He was very supportive of that,” Gruetzmacher said of Boie's backing of Title IX.
Part of Boie's ongoing legacy is the foundation that he established at Brookfield Central. Gruetzmacher explains that the school didn't become great in five years, or even 10; it is something that had been building for many years that date back to Boie's tenure.
"He's someone that you'd want your kid to have as principal, certainly," added Gruetzmacher.
In addition to his role as principal, Gruetzmacher said Boie was a leader among the WIAA Board of Control and was part of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Even through this past spring, Boie was still involved with district activities.
Beyond his work at an educational level, Boie was known to be a quiet, caring man. Gruetzmacher often speaks to students, now in their 60s, who still have fond memories of their former principal.
“Everyone thought the world of him,” said Gruetzmacher. Looking at his own career at the school, “That’s a goal for me that kids remember, 50 years from now, that I was a kind person, a fair person.”
Boie's grandson, Jonathan Thompson, is now a teacher at Brookfield Central.
"It is a privilege to work at the school where my grandpa invested much of his life. He always spoke with great passion and pride about his staff, and it is incredible to now work side-by-side with a group of such high-character and hard-working people at Brookfield Central," said Thompson. "It is amazing to think about the impact that he and many others have had in establishing a culture of excellence in the education and development of young people."
District Chief Information Officer Chris Thompson said Boie’s influence continued even after he left the school.
"He was well-loved and remained a strong supporter of Brookfield Central and the School District of Elmbrook throughout retirement," Chris Thompson said.
Boie leaves behind another legacy: a 63-year marriage to his wife Mary. Together they had five children, 13 grandkids, and six great-grandchildren.
“I thank him for everything that he did for this school and the community,” said Gruetzmacher.
A scholarship fund is being established in John Boie's name. One student from each graduating class will receive the scholarship, beginning with this spring's class. Donations for the scholarship can be made through the school.