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Justine "Julie" Boots

November 30, 1941 — January 27, 2024

Ogema

Justine “Julie” Boots passed away on Saturday, January 27, 2024, at her home on Big Sugarbush Lake. Justine was born in Graceville, Minnesota, on November 30, 1941, daughter of the late Joel and Vivian Broberg. She grew up in Fargo and did all of her primary and secondary schooling there.

Both of Justine’s parents were educators, so it was understood early that she would go to college. This she did with her usual energy and enthusiasm. She graduated from Macalester College in 1963 with a major in French. Two years later she earned a Master’s degree in French from the University of Kansas. Following that, she studied for a year at the University of Clermont Ferrand in France.

Through all of this, of course, her French became fluent, so she returned to the classroom, now on the other side of the desk. Her teaching career began at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and from there took her to Concordia College in Moorhead, the Lab School at the University of Chicago, Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, the Enid Public School system, the University of Foreign Languages in Dalian, China, and the Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin, Missouri. Several of her students at Thomas Jefferson insisted that “She doesn’t just teach French; She teaches LIFE!”

Justine also taught music, though not professionally. Herself an accomplished pianist, she shepherded her two daughters through twelve years each of work on both the violin and the piano. She was their indefatigable coach and their accompanist in daily practices and frequent performances. This was a journey that began with “Twinkle, Twinkle” and led to Vivaldi, Bach, and Mozart. She kept a house that was full of music.

In the middle of her teaching career, Justine decided to add Spanish to her list of languages. To that end, she coupled her love of language learning with her equally intense passion for traveling. For twenty years, well into her retirement from teaching, she spent a month or six weeks of every summer traveling in Central or South America. Her destinations included Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Cuba, and several cities in Mexico. Sometimes she traveled with a friend, but just as often—intrepid woman! --she traveled alone.

Apart from her language-learning trips, Justine’s usual traveling companion was her husband, John. Together they explored countries and cultures from Western Europe and Scandinavia through the Middle East, Central and South Asia, all the way to China. Several of these trips were long—months rather than weeks. The China trip took a year, and by the middle of that year Justine had learned enough Chinese to enable them to explore that large country from end to end using only public transportation. An earlier trip around Greece and Turkey occupied five months and involved a VW Bug, sleeping bags, and a tent that was often pitched in goat pastures or amid the ruins of Classical temples. Justine was fond of drawing a distinction between “tourist” and “traveler.” She thought of herself as a traveler.

Justine was a highly social and outwardly directed person. Most of her favorite activities involved other people. She belonged to at least three reading groups, was a faithful member of P.E.O, a frequent presence at the DLCC and contributed volunteer work to a number of local organizations. The Tamarac Wildlife Refuge was one of her favorites.

In the last two years of her life, Justine’s growing cascade of health problems curtailed her activities and forced drastic changes in lifestyle. Those health problems, however, did not defeat her. She had a very clear idea of what was coming, but she faced the inevitable with heroic fortitude, remained always cheerful, and never whined, complained or indulged in self-pity. In her last month her favorite sentence was “You play the hand you’re dealt,”-- usually uttered with a Gallic shrug. In her life she taught people how to enhance their own lives; in her death, she showed us all how to die.

 Justine is survived by her husband, John; their two daughters, Jennifer Marshall and Mary-Catherine Sacra, both of Tulsa, Oklahoma; her sister, Miriam Moen of Rochert, Minnesota; and her cousin / brother, Michael West, also of Rochert.

 A celebration of Justine’s life is planned for late summer. Donations in her memory may be made to Friends of Tamarac or to Hospice of the Red River Valley.

 

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