The room was filled with laughter last Thursday, Feb. 9, as one by one people came forward with well wishes for the future and anecdotes from the past 21 years. But there was also a hint of somberness for “the hole that will be left in the heart of Wilmore” when Boven departs.
“It won’t be the same without him,” said Daryl Diddle, pastor of Wilmore Free Methodist Church. “He’s meant a lot to this community and me.”
Boven and Diddle attended Asbury Theological Seminary in the late ’90s together, where they fast became friends, he said.
To some, Boven was more than a friend; he was family.
“I’m here to represent the Headley family and Cobham family,” Adina Cobham-Headley said. “Steve and I met in the early ’90s when I was a counselor at Wilmore Elementary School, and from then until now, we have been very good friends. In fact, my mother adopted him, so he’s more than a friend to us; he’s a brother.”
Boven had proven to be “an extraordinary, all around, multidimensional, multicultural and multigenerational police officer,” she said.
But more than anything, Cobham-Headley said, he was a role model for her sons and their friends.
“I did not want my sons to grow up being afraid of policemen or the law,” she said. “I wanted them to have a real appreciation for the law, the community and community service. And that’s why I appreciate and love Steve.”
Long-time resident of Wilmore Rodger Woolum also stood up and told a story of a time when his mother’s health condition was failing. She needed help and dialed 911.
Boven responded to the call not sure of what to expect, Woolum said. He met with the elderly widow Woolum and talked with her and helped her around the house.
Just as he was getting ready to leave, he asked, “Mrs. Woolum, is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Well, I’d like a bowl of oats,” she said.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve fixed oats,” Boven responded. “But if you talk me through it, I’m sure I can do it.”
At this point in the storytelling, the room and Woolum broke into laughter.
“I just want everyone to know that the chief of police fixed my mom a bowl of oats,” Woolum said. “It just goes to show his caring and generosity. And it meant so much to me and my family.”
At the end of his story, Woolum presented Boven with a can of oats.
There were also several other gifts given during the reception, each one with a story and special meaning for him to take to Michigan.
Three members of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade of the Kentucky National Guard presented him with a coin from their command staff, an honor usually reserved for those only in the service.
But the final gifts were presented by Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater and the new police chief, Bill Craig, including “the last thing a retired man needs, — a clock,” a recognition from the state Rep. Bob Damron and a certificate of appreciation from the city.
The final parting gift of the day needed some explanation, however.
“Steve and I have been friends for close to 20 years,” Craig said. “The only thing he and I have ever disagreed on was some days he’d come to work wearing this god-awful scarf with a big gold ‘M’ on it, just to rub me the wrong way — I’m a Kentucky man.”
Craig then presented Boven with an AR-15 rifle.
“We didn’t know what was appropriate for 21 years of service, but when he announced he was going to Michigan, it was an easy choice,” Craig said. “There’s a lot of ‘Wolverines’ in Michigan ... this is in order for him to defend himself.”
Boven took the rifle and hugged his long-time friend, coworker and replacement.
“Over 40 years ago, I said I’d move back to the family farm one day,” Boven said. “But every move put me farther and farther away. Now I going back.”
Boven and his wife, Pauline, will be moving to Michigan, where it all began for him as an officer for the state police. Now he’s going back to retire.
“I may substitute teach, but I don’t have any definite plans as far as working,” he said.
“Because we’re retired,” his wife interjected.
With a large smile at his wife, Boven said the couple plans on spending time on the lakeshore, documenting lighthouses and enjoying life on the farm.
“I’m looking forward to that,” Boven said. “It’s time to retire.”