His is the gift of heart and community pride
by ANTHONY GENTILE
Published - 12/22/09 - 03:12 PM | 5091 views | 1 1 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gerry Boehmke was worked tirelessly — and anonymously — to support the Ocean Beach Town Council's Tree Festival Committee and other community events for the last 15 years. PHOTO BY JIM GRANT / THE BEACON
Gerry Boehmke was worked tirelessly — and anonymously — to support the Ocean Beach Town Council's Tree Festival Committee and other community events for the last 15 years. PHOTO BY JIM GRANT / THE BEACON
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For the past 15 years, Gerry Boehmke has been the man behind the Ocean Beach community Christmas tree. Boehmke has spent most of that time quite literally behind the tree, deflecting recognition and praise for his efforts.

“He is just never in the limelight,” said Claudia Jack, chairwoman of the Ocean Beach Town Council’s (OBTC) Tree Committee. “He always is behind the scenes picking up all the pieces.”

Boehmke, who has served as co-chair of the OBTC Tree Committee for the last 15 years, is stepping down after this year. During this tenure, Boehmke’s efforts have been evident – even though he had shied from the limelight.

“A lot of times I’m not in any of the pictures or group photos because I never did it for the publicity,” Boehmke said. “I just did it because I was happy with the smiles of the kids and the end result always made me happy.”

As co-chair of the tree committee, Boehmke is essentially the go-to guy for anything tree-related. For the two-week period from when the tree is brought into OB to when it is cut down and taken away, Boehmke is there every step of the way.

“I’m involved with that tree from the second it goes into the ground to the second it comes out,” Boehmke said. “I am somebody that if you need something done, you can count on me to get it done for you.”

Sometimes those tree-related responsibilities arise in the middle of the night. During recent rainstorms, Boehmke got a call from the Fire-Rescue Department in the wee hours asking how to turn the power off because of an issue with the electrical box. And this is not the first time he has been woken up as a result of the tree.

“There were times when he and I would be out in the pouring rain in the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out how to stabilize the tree and the sand castle,” Jack said. “We always met and shared the work and got it done.”

Poor weather is an enemy of the tree and of Boehmke himself. Poor behavior on the part of some beach visitors also keeps him busy.

“People love to mess with that tree — they pull the lights down or they steal the ornaments,” Boehmke said. “The thing that I enjoy the most is when the kids come down from all the elementary schools and hang all their ornaments. So I try to take care of those for them during the two weeks.”

The smiles of the children who visit the tree are why Boehmke, who works with the city’s Storm Water Division, puts in so much time and effort into it. Of all the OB activities Boehmke has been involved with over the years, the Christmas tree tradition is his favorite.

The tree has always been my favorite because I always loved sitting down there and watching all the little kids come down and hang their ornaments and see Santa Claus,” Boehmke said.

Boehmke, 52, attended Sacred Heart Academy, St. Charles Borromeo Academy and graduated from Point Loma High School. Although his tenure on the Tree Committee is ending after this holiday season, that doesn’t mean he will stop lending a helping hand.

“I’ve always tried to be active in this community because I was born and raised here,” Boehmke said. “I like to give back to the community.”

He just doesn’t like to take credit.
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ceehound619
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December 25, 2009
good for this man giving his time to the community.... I applaud him...... but that tree is HIDEOUS..... it looks like charlie browns tree on steroids...... hopefully it will at least end up warming someones home as firewood.
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