Elaine Grace (Polsten) Boettcher passed away on October 3, 2023 in the company of family in Lexington, Massachusetts after 93 years of a graceful life. Born in Farmington, Connecticut on June 29, 1930, the first summer of the Great Depression, to Edward and Grace Polsten, of English and Danish ancestry, she went on to study, earn degrees, and teach at institutions of higher learning. She was married twice and raised a family of four children, together with her second husband, Peter Boettcher.
In her family and professional lives, Elaine was a catalyst for new opportunity and never stopped dreaming about what lay ahead. She cultivated love in her family, respect and curiosity for other cultures, and a passion for continuous learning. After studies at the University of Hartford (R.N.) and Boston University (B.S.), she moved to San Diego, then San Francisco, then Ann Arbor, where she raised two young boys, practiced hospital nursing, and met the love of her life, Peter Boettcher. With the boys, Elaine and Peter moved to Wilmington, Delaware in 1964 and were married that summer in Frankfurt, Germany. After giving birth to two additional children, Elaine spearheaded the family’s move to Newark, Delaware, where she obtained her master’s degree and became a college professor and member of the Faculty Senate, later Associate Professor Emerita of Nursing, at the University of Delaware. Her professional achievements included becoming both a Registered Nurse and an Associate Professor of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, plus publishing in several peer-reviewed journals, including Perspectives in Psychiatric Care and the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. She was nominated by her students and won an excellence in teaching award.
Always an advocate for equality, Elaine worked with the League of Women’s Voters, American Association of University Women (AAUW), and others to shine her bright light on the value of diverse perspectives. She sought multiculturalism through her choice of roommates in college, friends in her neighborhood, and travels abroad with her German-American husband, Peter. Her intellectual curiosity led her to continue academic pursuits into her eighties, studying for several years and serving on the curriculum committee at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement while living in Cambridge, MA.
Elaine loved New England and stewarded her family’s Martha’s Vineyard summers there in the Seventies, eventually breaking ground for a cottage in Edgartown in 1982. She lived in Edgartown full-time since 2015 and was an active member of the Martha’s Vineyard Poet’s Collective. Throughout her life, Elaine enjoyed playing the piano (Amazing Grace was a favorite) and was a voracious reader and avid painter, mostly in acrylics but also oils and watercolors.
Elaine was predeceased by her husband, Dr. F. Peter Boettcher, in 2003 and is survived by children Timothy Rockwood (Jessica) of Kensington, MD, Jeffrey Rockwood of St. Petersburg, FL, Stefan Boettcher (Amy Jochem) of Houston, TX, and Audra Myerberg (Jonah) of Lexington, MA, along with seven grandchildren.
A memorial service on Martha’s Vineyard will be held in the near future and donations in lieu of flowers may be directed to Hospice and Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard.