Wisdom beyond words
Two retired Bethel professors reflect on experiences of travel, teaching and reading murder mysteries.
Story by Christine Ramstad, video by McKenzie Van Loh | Royal Report
Jeannine Bohlmeyer and Lorraine Eitel sit side-by-side on the sofa in Jeannine’s pristinely maintained apartment at Johanna Shores retirement home.
Bohlymeyer stood on Snelling Ave. in 1958 as a parade passed by, celebrating Minnesota’s 100th birthday. She was interviewing to be a professor of English at Bethel University — a position she would hold for 30 years. Eitel, a student of Bohlmeyer, later taught English at Bethel for 25 years.
Today, the women live 1.6 miles from Bethel’s campus, passing the days inside their 1-bedroom apartments.
Bohlymeyer is 83 years old and Eitel is 80.
“I can remember in 6th grade when we had to talk about what we wanted to be when we grow up I stood up and said, ‘I want to write stories for children’,” Eitel said.
When Bohlymeyer arrived as an English professor, she was 1 of 5 female faculty members.
“It was small back then. I think there’s about a million students today,” Bohlymeyer said.
The cement walls of CC1 were previously painted with silhouettes — one of the silhouettes was Eitel.
“It was so recognizable,” Marion Larson, current Bethel English professor, remembers. “The way she was holding her purse with her bag out in front of her.”
“Lorraine loved murder mystery books,” Larson said. When Eitel announced her retirement, professors collaborated to write a murder mystery book with Eitel as a character.
Items of interest in Bolhmeyer’s room include her massive Dictionary, opera glasses and knitting projects. She even knit the sweater that’s seen in the interview.
“It’s more interesting to be in the world when you’re doing things and you’re responsible for something. It’s much harder to be patient when you have nothing particular to do. But you’re glad that you have friends from the past and that you can read,” Bolhmeyer said.
“It’s more interesting to be in the world when you’re doing things and you’re responsible for something. It’s much harder to be patient when you have nothing particular to do. But you’re glad that you have friends from the past and that you can read.” — Jeannine Bolhmeyer, retired Bethel professor
Eitel’s bookmark was resting inside a William Faulkner novel on her end table.
The rooms are filled with relics from their well-travelled lives. Both have travelled to every continent apart from Antarctica and spent time teaching English abroad. Bolhmeyer has visited over 50 countries but one wish remains: ride a pony in Iceland.