10 Mar Eastern Colorado Boettcher community gathers to celebrate 1952 scholar
By Tracy Wahl
Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board
Eastern Colorado is one of the most sparsely populated parts of the state of Colorado, especially as you move closer to the Kansas and Nebraska borders. But, Boettcher Scholar alumni have an outsized impact in those places – serving a variety of community and business leadership roles in the small rural towns, surrounded by wheat, corn, alfalfa and sorghum fields.
In February, the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board hosted a meetup in the Eastern Plains community of Sterling to honor Dr. William Buchanan, a 1952 Boettcher Scholar, who recently retired after serving as an eye doctor in Sterling for more than 50 years. Eleven scholars attended the gathering.
The retirement celebration was spurred by Boettcher Scholar Landan Schaffert, who was one of Dr. Buchanan’s patients for years. Landan is legally blind, and he credits Dr. Buchanan with making it possible for him to achieve his goals. Landan is a high school science teacher in Otis (population estimated 475 in 2015).
Joining us to honor him were Boettcher alumni from all over the eastern part of the state.
Lindsey Paulson is a doctor, specializing in family medicine in the town of Wray (population 2342 in 2010) near the Nebraska, Kansas state lines. She is one of only five doctors practicing family medicine at the Wray Community District Hospital.
Meghan Neumann, Kaitlin Neumann Johnson and Charlie Johnson — all have connections to the rural part of the state. Sisters Meghan and Kaitlin are both from Wray. Kaitlin’s husband Charlie Johnson, also a Boettcher Scholar is from Kit Carson (population 233 in 2010) and now manages his family’s ranch and sells drought insurance.
Beth Baker Owens, who now lives in Denver, has family in Sterling, and used the event as an opportunity to visit the area while reengaging with the Boettcher community. Beth noted that her mother was a patient of Dr. Buchanan’s as well.
Cinde James lives in Frederick but her family’s roots in Iliff, which is east of Sterling, go back more than hundred years. She works as a seamstress, specializing in wedding dresses and other complex projects. Another small world connection: her dad is the brother to my aunt.
JulieMarie A. Shepherd Macklin made the drive from Aurora, which is just on the edge of the agricultural part of the state. She is a member of the Aurora School Board and a talented baker who brought some thematically appropriate sugar cookies to the event.
My own family roots go back in Akron to the late 1800s, and both my maternal grandparents were born there in the early 1900s, so the event was a welcome opportunity to return to my home base.
It was a great gathering and provided the opportunities for the small town stars in the sparsely populated part of Colorado to meet and greet with one another. I was very proud of the way that Boettcher leadership exists in all parts of the state. At a time when the national story has been the divide between urban and rural America, the Boettcher Foundation has clearly made it a priority to be geographically diverse. I can’t wait for us all to meet up again.