LAKELAND, FL. - Everetta J. (Polly Garber) Boehme, 87, of Lakeland, FL, went to be with her Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, Sunday, May 15 at 2:40 pm. Known as Polly or Etta to her family and friends, she was born June 11, 1934 to Everett and Thelma (Kitchell) Boehme in Pekin, IL.
She was proceeded in death by her parents; brothers, Francis Earl “Corky” Boehme and Robert Eugene Boehme; foster son, Harris C. “Buddy” Burdette; and grandson, Jacob Andrew Garber.
Surviving are her sister, Roseanne (Jim) Gipson of Lakeland, FL; daughters, Melody (and Gary) Church of East Peoria, IL and Kimberly Garber-Bruen of Lakeland, FL and son; Craig (and Kay) Garber of Morton, IL. She had 9 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. She had a special relationship with her granddaughter and nurse practitioner, Jessica Anderson. The nurses and staff at her nursing home thoroughly enjoyed her sense of humor.
Polly began her music career very young, growing up singing with her “Brother Bob” and sister Roseanne, The Boehme Trio, in countless churches and events in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Her love for piano showed up early when she taught herself to play by ear. In the mid 60’s, she began pursuing a serious piano career, studying under Mrs. Sally Bauer and Dr. Ed Kaizer of Bradley University and later Dr. R. Bedford Watkins of Illinois Wesleyan University. She was also coached by Harris C. Burdette of King’s College in New York. A gifted piano teacher, Polly began Garber Piano Studio “Dedicated for a love for God and the art of music” in her home near Deer Creek. Her business quickly grew and soon after, opened Garber Music Studio on Fast Street in Mackinaw, adding voice and guitar lessons. In 1972, she moved the business to Washington, IL.
She created the Student Recital Series, affording piano majors of Bradley and Illinois Wesleyan Universities an opportunity to practice their program to an audience before their final concert. She held piano workshops, bringing in guest artists for her students to gain insight from other piano professionals. She spent several years during the 70’s on the board of the Peoria Youth Symphony. Most of her life, she shared her gift as church pianist and organist in many local churches. Always giving of herself, countless numbers have benefited from her time and talents.
Later, she worked at the Morton plant of Caterpillar Tractor Co. Then moved to Atlanta, GA working for Charles Stanley Ministries and retired in Florida. She authored the book, ”Destiny’s Doorway” that was published in 2012, a recounting of her early 80’s near-death experience. Most importantly in her life, she loved to serve the Lord, tell people about Jesus and share His plan of salvation.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A family Celebration of Life has been scheduled for June 14.