Timothy Boche excelled at three sports, presided over the student council and acted in plays at Simley High School. Outgoing and kind, he got along with all kinds of people, family members say.
“He was in everything,” said Terry Boche, his younger brother. “He had enormous potential.”
But Boche’s life was cut short in 1966 at the age of 17, when he drowned in a pond across from the Inver Grove Heights school. Determined not to forget him, the high school named its football field after him a year later, and the Lettermen’s Club raised money to put up a monument in his memory.
When construction began on Simley’s new stadium five years ago, the 4 ½-by-6-foot stone marker disappeared. Boche’s friends and family weren’t sure where it went, or whether it would ever return.
“So often I’ve gone by the field and wondered what happened to it,” said Ardi Roberts, whose husband Don taught and coached Boche at Simley.
This week the marker, which reads “Boche Memorial Field,” was installed at a new spot outside Spartan Stadium’s ticket booth, ensuring that current and future students will know about the charismatic dark-haired teen who died more than 50 years ago.
Inver Grove Heights’ Superintendent Dave Bernhardson said the school district didn’t misplace or forget about the monument. Officials were just waiting for the right time to put it back up, said.
Bernhardson said that despite all the decades since, many Inver Grove Heights residents still remember Boche and the memorial. “I get asked about it on a regular basis when I’m out in the community,” he said.
While some vestiges of Boche’s legacy remain, including an Inver Grove Heights Lions Club scholarship in his name, others are gone.
Boche was leading a captain’s football practice at the high school one day in July 1966. After it ended, a group of boys headed to nearby Simley Pond — called Lake Nelson in some places back then — for a dip.
He soon experienced cramps, Terry Boche said, and sunk to the bottom of the pond. His friends tried to help him, but to no avail. He drowned in the swimming hole.
Don Roberts, who coached Boche on the football team, remembers it was a difficult time and that many students were upset. Ardi Roberts said the loss was even more painful because the high school was smaller and everyone knew everyone else.
Terry Boche remembers the support that community members offered his family. His parents were “thrilled” at the idea of the memorial, he said.
On Wednesday, Simley alumni Jon Dietrich, who owns Hardline Concrete and Masonry, led a crew of workers preparing the area where the marker will go.
Though he had always heard that a boy had drowned at Simley Pond, Dietrich said he didn’t know much else about Boche. Now he knows the story and believes it’s important to preserve the school’s history, he said.
He showed how the marker will be placed, at a 45-degree angle, so people can see it better.
“I want the ‘Wow’ factor when people come up here,” Dietrich said.
Terry Boche said his family is surprised and pleased to see the marker returned to a prominent place. Kids today need a role model, he said, and his brother’s memory might provide that.
“[His death] impacted the school so much,” Terry Boche said. “Just like any piece of history, it’s important for them to know.”