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Linda Boner

RAPID CITY | Linda Lea (Richtman) Boner died peacefully at her west Rapid City home on Dec. 4, 2017, surrounded by her closest friends. She was 72.

Linda was born July 22, 1945, to Pat and Jack Richtman. She was raised in Custer and on her family’s 12 Mile Ranch southwest of town. “The Ranch” would become a source of historical pride and Linda took great joy later in life refurbishing the family homestead for her grandchildren.

Linda graduated from Custer High School in 1963. She attended the University of Wyoming for one year where she used part of her tuition to travel to Washington, DC, to see Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This came as no surprise to friends from her small town, who knew her as “Custer’s Wild Child.” She would transfer to South Dakota State University, earning a degree in education and kicking off a celebrated career in that field, later earning a master's degree in administration.

She broke new ground in the Rapid City School District with the “Bilingual Education” program, which offered learning opportunities for Native American students and helped them retain their native language. She was the founder and first principal of the Jefferson Academy, providing alternative education options for at-risk youth. Throughout her career Linda held positions as a teacher, student counselor and administrator before she retired in 2003 to care for her husband.

Linda was one of only a few female school administrators at the time. She was bold, direct and never one to mince words, yet she never took herself too seriously. Her wit and sense of humor were forces to be reckoned with and she did not suffer fools easily. She was fair and compassionate — qualities which inspired loyalty and respect among her peers. While she worked to open doors for under-served students Linda found lifelong friends in many of her colleagues with whom she traveled the world and met for coffee every week at McDonald's.

Linda married Gary Boner on July 16, 1973, and together they had two boys, Brian and Brad. They were married for almost 33 years before Gary’s death in May 2005. Through the years they made and kept good friends and could often be found at the original Murphy’s Bar and later at the Regency Lounge. Every year on their anniversary Gary would ask, “Well momma, wanna re-up?” She always did.

Later in life Linda developed a love of travel, most notability with her dear friend Norma Jean Denault, who passed away 2014. Together they globe-trotted to Alaska, Ireland/UK, Greece, Italy and destinations in China, including Guilin and Shanghai. Linda always looked forward to her annual trip to Mazatlan, Mexico, with friends where she enjoyed the shrimp, margaritas, the sun and the sea, and even parasailing, but just once.

After her retirement, she split her time between Rapid City and Phoenix for extended stays with her oldest son and his family. She took pride in “her boys,” celebrating their successes by swinging from gallery openings in the Arizona desert to exploring the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, all to experience everything that brought her sons joy. Later in life she was truly happiest watching her grandchildren discover the beauty of this world and reveling in her role as “Mimi.”

When she was in Rapid City she volunteered with the Meals on Wheels of Western South Dakota, was a hospice volunteer and worked for some time at the tourism center in downtown Rapid City. She was a voracious reader and member-in-good-standing with the Book Babes Book Club. She was an avid PBS and NPR supporter, enthusiastic Bob Dylan fan and ardent Democrat.

Linda was preceded in death by her parents and husband. She is survived by her sister, Susan (Tom) Barnes of Custer; nephew, Tony (Heather) Barnes of Palmer, AK; niece, Margaret “Molly” (Clayton) Schultz of Laramie, WY; and her two sons, Brian (Christina) Boner of Phoenix, AZ, and Brad (Jeannette) Boner of Victor, ID. She is also survived by her greatest delights, her four grandchildren: Jasper, Adeline, Gary William “Will” and Elias.

Friends are invited to a Celebration of Linda’s life at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Terra Sancta Retreat Center, 2101 City Springs Road, Suite 300, with a light reception to follow. Please join us to share stories of this incredible friend, loving mother and grandmother and all-around extraordinary person.

Please consider a donation in Linda’s memory to Meals on Wheels of Western South Dakota, online at mealsprogram.com or by mail at 1621 Sheridan Lake Road, Suite C, Rapid City, SD 57702. Or to the the Rapid City School Foundation online at rcpsfoundation.org or by mail at PO Box 7733, Rapid City, SD 57709-7733.

Friends may sign her online guestbook at Kirk Funeral Home's website.

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