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Mitchell man's legacy lives on in Notre Dame scholarships

Lloyd Boehnen died Tuesday, but he's still helping students attend his beloved University of Notre Dame. Boehnen dreamed of going to Notre Dame as a young man but was unable to afford it. His own education at Creighton University in Omaha was cut...

Lloyd Boehnen
Lloyd Boehnen

Lloyd Boehnen died Tuesday, but he's still helping students attend his beloved University of Notre Dame.

Boehnen dreamed of going to Notre Dame as a young man but was unable to afford it. His own education at Creighton University in Omaha was cut short when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the start of World War II.

After becoming a successful businessman in Mitchell, he founded the Boehnen Family Scholarship to send South Dakota students to Notre Dame, with Mitchell students receiving top priority. The scholarship began in 1990 and has since sent several South Dakota students to Notre Dame each year.

"I will tell you that this whole scholarship and the way it's blossomed over the years, it has brought Dad an immense amount of satisfaction," said Vikki Lansing Copley, Boehnen's daughter. "It's really been a feelgood situation for all of us, but in particular for Dad."

Lloyd Boehnen died Tuesday at the age of 89 in Boca Raton, Fla., where he had been residing.

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Boehnen became a businessman in Mitchell when he returned from the South Pacific and became deeply invested in the community. He first owned and operated a wholesale gas and oil distribution business in Mitchell. In the 1960s he built the Holiday Inn, now the Ramada Inn and Suites, which was the first full service hotel in Mitchell. Boehnen and his children sold the hotel about three years ago.

Boehnen's most lasting legacy is the Boehnen Family Scholarship for The University of Notre Dame. The endowment began with a $1 million investment and has now grown to $3 million, because Notre Dame has invested it so well, said David Boehnen, one of Lloyd's sons.

"Obviously Dad would have loved to have gone to Notre Dame, but he made sure other students went," David said. "It was a dream of his that more South Dakota students go, and that was his motivation for the scholarship."

This year, there are five South Dakota students attending Notre Dame because of this scholarship, Vikki said, including three from Mitchell: Isaac Harrington, who is a senior, Michael Temple, a sophomore, and Alex Graves, a freshman.

Some students receive full scholarships and others receive partial scholarships. In a typical year, the endowment provides between $150,000 and $250,000 in scholarship funds.

Temple said the scholarship has made all the difference for his education. He said Thursday that the total cost per year for his education would be $57,000. With a partial scholarship from the Boehnen family, his tuition costs are cut in half, he said.

"I mostly applied to schools around South Dakota, public schools, because it was in my price range," Temple said. "But I also applied at Notre Dame because I knew it was a really great school and I had the opportunity to get the scholarship."

The Boehnen family is paying to fly Temple, Graves and Harrington back to Mitchell for Lloyd Boehnen's funeral Saturday. Each of the young men will speak about the impact the scholarship has had on their education.

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Lloyd Boehnen not only made an impact on students in Mitchell, but he also made contributions to some well-known entities in the city, starting with the Prehistoric Indian Village.

In the 1980s, Boehnen gave a large donation to build the Indian Village museum and gift shop, which is called the Boehnen Memorial Museum and is dedicated to his parents, Elsie and Leo Boehnen. Lloyd Boehnen also contributed to the Indian Village's Thomsen Center Archeodome.

Over the years, through the Boehnen Family Foundation, other entities have received funding, including the Abbott House, the Mitchell Area Development Corp. and the Mitchell Foundation for Catholic Education.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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