Marian Oleta Boehr, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumna, passed away at the age of 94, on April 25, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. She was born on July 24, 1926 in Long Pine, Nebraska, the daughter of Dr. Irwin I. and Alta W. Boehr.
Marian grew up the daughter of a medical doctor, in a Christian home, living in many places including Long Pine and Henderson, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington. She excelled in school, especially in the sciences. In Portland, it was where Marian gave her life to Jesus Christ. The whole family was baptized on Christmas Sunday 1940 into the membership of the First Baptist Church. In 1942 the family moved to Seattle. Shortly before Miriam graduated from high school her mother died from a brain tumor. Miriam went on to study at the University of Washington.
During that time Marian’s father married a fine woman who became mother to Marian. In the last year of her studies at the University of Washington Marian felt a spirit of unrest and questioned if she was doing all that she should for the cause of Christ. After much prayer she yielded her life to missionary service. She realized that she must go into some other field than chemistry if she was to be of the greatest service, so she turned to medicine. She earned her M.D. degree at Northwestern University Medical School. During those four years she became more and more certain that God had called her to His service. Obstacles were overcome and prayers were answered beyond belief. During her internship at Cook County Hospital she wrote: “All of the hardship, misery and dirt of the mission field are here! The training is wonderful…” She joined North Shore Baptist Church where she again associated with Dr. Wilson who had baptized her in Portland. She grew deep friendships and grew to love Christian service through teaching. All through her training Marian’s parents strongly supported her missionary dedication.
On May 15, 1952 Marian was appointed for service at the Annual Meeting in Chicago by the Woman’s American Baptist Foreign Society designated to serve in South India. In February 1953 Marian sailed for India.
Marian served as a medical missionary in South India for 38 years, from 1953 until 1991. After learning the Telugu language and serving for a time at the Ongole Hospital, she moved to Nellore. At the Nellore Baptist Christian Hospital she served as medical superintendent and bursar, chief surgeon, and teacher in the nursing school. She was often a speaker at churches, conferences and conventions, speaking either in English or Telegu. She preached regularly at the English Service in Nellore. In those 38 years she performed 38,000 surgical procedures and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with countless of people.
Marian’s home was always open to the student nurses, the community residents, the doctors from the hospital, evangelists who came to pray with and for her, beggars who depended on her help, and foreign guests. She shared her food, her time, and her interest with all who came.
In 1990 the Convention of Telugu Baptist Churches ordained Marian to the Christian ministry and challenged her when she retired to be their missionary to her people in the United States. In 2019 one of the most traveled streets in Nellore was renamed by the Municipality of Nellore to “Dr. Boehr Road.”
Throughout her missionary career Marian was a prolific writer. She wrote by hand or on a typewriter faithfully every week to her friends, relatives and others who asked to be on her mailing list. Quarterly newsletters were sent through the ABFMS office. She also wrote lengthy yearly reports. When Marian retired in 1992 she learned how to use a computer.
Marian kept very active in retirement. She was involved in her local church, speaking in churches and institutions, writing a book (“Medicine and Miracles Amid the Multitudes”), and teaching Bible classes. In 1993 she visited India for three months and was able to participate in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Nellore Mission Hospital.
Marian’s sense of humor, her story telling ability, and her flexibility helped her through many difficult times. She found pleasure in little things and kept up a wide variety of interests including archaeology. Marian has been an inspiration and blessing for many in India and in the United States.
Marian has left behind a niece, Teresa (Terrie) Boehr and nephew, David Boehr.
The family will hold a Celebration of Life Service at First Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, planning for a mid-summer date.