Jean Boese

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Elsie Jean McGivney
"Jean" Boese​

(Louisiana poet laureate and Republican national committeewoman)

Jean Boese of LA.jpg

Born January 19, 1925​
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Died April 7, 2004 (aged 79)​
Alexandria, Louisiana​​
Spouse Herman Lamar Boese, M.D. (married 1946–2004, his death)​

One son: Robert Lamar Boese

Religion Roman Catholic

Elsie Jean McGivney Boese (pronounced BOWES; January 19, 1925 – April 7, 2004), known as Jean Boese or as Jeannie Boese, was the poet laureate of Louisiana from 1980 to 1988 and from 1996 until her death.[1] She was also the Republican national committeewoman from Louisiana and the first woman to serve on the Alexandria Civil Service Commission, with tenure from 1975 to 1979.[2]


Boese was a daughter of John Roderick McGivney and the former Elsie Buist. She graduated in 1942 from the Louise S. McGehee School, a female academy) in her native New Orleans. In 1945, at the age of twenty, she graduated from the former H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, the women's division of Tulane University. On May 20, 1946, she married Herman Lamar Boese (June 28, 1924 – February 26, 2004). The couple moved to Alexandria, where Dr. Boese, a proctologist, established his medical practice.​[3]

Poet laureate

Boese was first appointed as poet laureate in 1980 by Republican Governor David C. Treen and retained in the third administration of Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards from 1984 to 1888. She returned for a second stint as poet laureate from 1996 to 2004 under appointment of Republican Governor Mike Foster. She was succeeded as poet laureate in 2005 by Brenda Marie Osbey of New Orleans, an appointee of Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco.​ [1]

There are two samples of her work at the end of this article.

Civic figure

In 1975, three Democratic city commissioners (Mayor John K. Snyder, Finance and Utilities Commissioner Arnold Jack Rosenthal, and Streets and Parks Commissioner Malcolm Hébert) named Mrs. Boese to a vacancy on the Alexandria Civil Service Commission,[2] which hears grievances from city employees who wish to challenge dismissals, demotions, or changes in job duties and descriptions. She served on the review board of the Alexandria Zoning Commission from 1979 to 1984.​

On the state level, she was a member of the Commission on Indian Affairs, Commission on Salaries for State Judges, and the Election Code Commission.​

Boese had been a social worker for the American Red Cross in 1945 and 1946 and briefly taught exceptional children in New Orleans. She did script writing for the Tulane University educational television channel. After she relocated to Alexandria, she became a member of the St. Frances Cabrini Hospital Auxiliary and the Rapides Parish Medical Society. She was a former member of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Altar Society and served on the Human Rights Committee of St. Mary's Training School for Retarded Children in Alexandria.​[3]

Republican politics

Boese was the first woman appointed as vice-chairman of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee and served a full decade, from 1964 to 1974. She was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1964 and 1968, which met in San Francisco and Miami Beach, Florida, respectively. Besides her six years as GOP national committeewoman, she was a member of the site selection committee of the Republican National Committee in 1971. The committee initially chose San Diego, California, for the convention, but when problems resulted over financing, the site was once again Miami Beach.

In 1974, Boese was named by the state central committee to succeed Patricia Lindh as national committeewoman.[4]

In the 1976 campaign, Boese remained neutral in the fight between President Gerald Ford and former California Governor Ronald W. Reagan. The Louisiana caucuses in May had gone heavily for Reagan. She was quite optimistic that Ford, who emerged the nominee (with Senator Bob Dole of Kansas as his running-mate) from the convention that met in Kansas City, Missouri, would yet defeat Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter: "The more I read those polls {with Carter far in front}, the more optimistic I am. I am expecting a Democratic Dewey, and I can hardly wait," she said, in reference to former New York Governor Thomas Dewey, who lost the presidency in 1944 and 1948, though he had been favored in nearly all polls in the latter contest.[5]

Her poem "Leadership"

Boese's "Leadership" is the official poem of the Louisiana State Senate:​

It is easy to bend with the wind and be weak,​
Wrapped in silence when it would take courage to speak,​
To do nothing when crises demand that you act;​
To prefer a delusion to unpleasant fact.​
But the easy evasions that dreamers embrace​
Are denied to a leader with problems to face.​
He must cope with the world as he finds it, and plan​
To make each hard decision as well as he can.​
He can't hide from the truth or deny what is real.​
Though a lie might assuage all the fears people feel.​
For the truth is the truth, and no lie can prevail.​
In a world that is real, one must face truth or fail.[6]

"Louisiana", the poem

Her best known poem, "Louisiana," was read at the dedication of the Louisiana Archives Building in 1987. The poem is especially poignant to natives of the state:​

I love Louisiana with its cotton fields and trees​
And the Spanish moss that flutters with the slightest bit of breeze.​
I love the fields of sugar cane, the grazing cattle herds,​
The sweet scented magnolias filled with brightly colored birds.​
I love the lazy bayous that meander through the state,​
Where bass and bream and speckled perch and crawfish lie in wait.​
I love the mighty rivers that flowed where we now tread,​
Atchafalaya, Mississippi and the clay filled Red.​
I love the forests filled with game, I'm proud that from our soil​
Come shrimp and oysters from the Gulf, and sulphur, salt and oil.​
I love the lush green levees stretching far as eyes can see.​
Louisiana has my love, because it's part of me.​

Death at 79

Herman Boese preceded his wife in death by forty-one days. He had been her caregiver in her last years. The couple was Roman Catholic.​ He shared his wife's political leanings. In 1966, he was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the Rapides Parish School Board, along with future U.S. District Judge Nauman Steele Scott (1916-2001), a Moderate Republican, and future Republican national committeeman and Louisiana state GOP chairman John Hamilton Cade, Jr. At the time there were six at-large seats on the body, but by the 1970s the board had converted to single-member districts.

At the time of her passing, Boese was survived by her son, Robert Lamar Boese (born 1947), daughter-in-law, Dierdre Digiglia Boese (born 1957), and granddaughters, Erin and Kelly Boese, all of Broussard in Lafayette Parish.​

See also

  • Greta Jones
  • Marion Kurfiss, president from 1975 to 1979 of the Louisiana Federation of Republican Women who also resided in Alexandria.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Previous laureates. Library of Congress (February 23, 2018). Retrieved on April 5, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jean Boese. Retrieved on April 5, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jean Boese, Who's Who in America, 1972-1973 edition.
  4. "Louisiana Republicans Hold Elections," Minden Press-Herald, March 4, 1974, p. 1.
  5. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, July 27, 1976.​
  6. 2011 Louisiana Laws Revised Statutes TITLE 49 — State administration RS 49:155.5 — State senate poem. Justia. Retrieved on February 4, 2012.