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HomeNewsArchives'Renaissance Woman' Bertha C. Boschulte Dies at 98

'Renaissance Woman' Bertha C. Boschulte Dies at 98

Aug. 19, 2004 – The territory mourned the loss of one of its 20th century Renaissance women on Thursday. Bertha C. Boschulte, who died on Wednesday night at the age of 98, is best known to younger generations as the person for whom a St. Thomas school is named. But the list of credits that culminated in that honor is long and varied.
Boschulte, a native St. Thomian born on March 30, 1906, was first and foremost "an educator by training and devotion" as her entry in the "Profiles '72" collection of biographies states. But that devotion and that training also took her into the fields of public health statistics, politics, women's issues and more.
"Her life and her service have left an indelible legacy, and we are a better community and a better people for the lives she helped to shape and her many and varied contributions," Delegate Donna M. Christensen said in a statement of condolences.
A statement from the V.I. Democratic Party expressed the desire "to use the occasion of her passing to salute her distinguished career and exceptional service to the people of the Virgin Islands in many fields of endeavor. She will be remembered as a pioneer for the role of women in the political arena and as a forceful and influential advocate for the many social and political causes that affected the day-to-day lives of Virgin Islanders."
Boschulte received her early education at James Monroe School and Charlotte Amalie Junior-Senior High School. She taught for a year in local elementary schools, then went off to Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia to get her bachelor's degree in English and mathematics. She returned home to become a teacher at Charlotte Amalie High School. A decade later she was named principal.
She returned to the mainland to get her master's degree in secondary school organization and administration at Columbia University Teachers College in 1945 and to teach junior high school for a semester in New York City before returning home again. In 1949 she was offered the position of Health Department statistician and resigned as principal.
She enrolled under a Health Department training program in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and in 1951 earned a master's in public health statistics. During the '50s she served as the department's director of statistical services, director of the Vital Records Division and director of general services.
She turned down an offer to become Education commissioner but in 1964 ran successfully for a seat in the Legislature, where she served one term. She was appointed in 1969 to the Commission on the Status of Women and elected in 1970 to the Board of Education, of which she became chair. She also was a co-founder of the Independent Citizens Movement political party.
She also served on the boards of the University of the Virgin Islands, the Law-Enforcement Commission, the Employees Retirement Board and the St. Thomas Election Board. She organized the St. Thomas Teachers Institute and the St. Thomas Evening School, serving as instructor in both programs for several years. She chaired the Citizens Committee for United Nations Day for three years and in 1965 was named Woman of the Year by the St. Thomas chapter of Business and Professional Women.
In 1976, the 11th Legislature approved the naming of a new school in her honor. It was BCB Junior High School until the late '90s, when it became BCB Middle School. The campus was extensively damaged by Hurricanes Marilyn in 1995 and Bertha in 1996, and the school has since been completely rebuilt.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in a message of condolences described Boschulte as "a woman of grace, integrity, honesty and intellect." Noting her many areas of service and involvement, he said she will, nonetheless, "be remembered and revered most for her sterling contributions in the field of education … molding a generation of future leaders and productive citizens of the Virgin Islands and elsewhere."
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone in a message said she was one of his role models. "I am proud to be among some who attended the Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High School [later Middle School] so appropriately named in her honor," he said. From her role in establishing the evening school to her service as school board chair, Malone said, "Bertha Boschulte has remained instrumental in the development of the Virgin Islands educational system, a work ethic that I hope to emulate."
No information on funeral arrangements was available Thursday.

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