Tracing Tracy Territory: Celebrating an education icon
by Sam Matthews
Sep 14, 2012 | 2235 views | 1 1 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students, faculty and parents at Louis Bohn Elementary School said “goodbye” yesterday to the longtime school administrator for whom the school is named.

A reception in at the school honored Dr. Louis Bohn and his wife, Elizabeth, shortly before they are scheduled to leave Tracy for their new home in Salt Lake City.

The Bohns, Tracy residents since 1964, will be living in an assisted-

living complex in Salt Lake City, which is closer to their children and grandchildren.

“We’ve been paring down our belongings and household items we’ve collected over all these years,” Lou said. “It hasn’t been easy, especially giving away so many books in my library.”

The Bohns both retired from education in 1984 — he as a school administrator for 20 years in what is now the Tracy Unified School District and she as a teacher for 15 years at Jefferson School.

Since then, they have been volunteers in a number of community activities, and of course, one of those with special meaning is Louis Bohn Elementary School.

The kindergarten-to-fifth grade school in southeast Tracy was named for the retired educator in 1992.

“There were 14 names nominated for the school name, and for some reason they chose mine,” Louis Bohn said. “I suppose they appreciated what I had done.”

Those words are vintage Lou Bohn: thoughtful and self-effacing. In naming the school for him, people in Tracy knew who guided educational programs in Tracy schools for 20 years with a steady hand and professional manner.

After Bohn Elementary School was opened in 1992, Dr. Louis Bohn became more than a name to students. Lou was at the school at least one day a week — often more than that. “I tutored students who needed some special attention and then, when asked, would read books to students in English classes,” he said.

In the process, he became a familiar figure on campus.

“I’ll tell you,” Bohn said, “it’s such a gratifying feeling to walk on a school campus named for you and have students and staff members know your name. It can’t be beat.”

The Bohns are both native of Texas. They first met in 1941 when both were students at the University of Texas at Austin and worked at the university’s physics library and Liz’s brother was Lou’s roommate..

Louis served 4½ years in the Navy during World War II, including duty as a communications officer in the battle to retake Guam in 1944.

After the war, he returned to the university, and the two married soon thereafter.

After Louis had served as a high school science teacher and principal in Midland, Texas, Louis returned to Austin to earn his doctorate in education.

From Texas, the Bohns went to La Paz, Bolivia, where, under a Ford Foundation grant, Louis served as assistant director of teacher education in pilot programs throughout the western part of the South American country.

Following a year in Bolivia, they moved to the Dominican Republic, where he taught at a normal school for teachers headed to rural schools.

In 1960, they returned to the U.S., and Louis was hired as principal of a K-6 elementary school in Stockton’s Lincoln School District.

Four years later, in 1964, they came to Tracy when Louis was named director of instruction and adult school principal for Tracy Public Schools. Three years later, he became assistant superintendent for instruction.

“I had a lot of responsibilities with normal curriculum and special-education programs,’ he recalled. “Jim French (then superintendent) gave me leeway to carry out my duties as I saw fit, and I believe we had good programs with the funds available to us.”

Lou was an active member of the Tracy Lions Club, serving as president and as longtime chairman of the club’s speech contest. More recently, he has been member of the Tracy Rotary Club.

Both Lou and Liz have been active in the First United Methodist Church in its outreach program.

In recent years, Liz, an Inner Wheel member, has taken on a special project to support Bernice French, widow of James French, in an assisted living facility.

Obviously, the Bohns contributed to our town in many ways. They certainly deserved the send-off given to them yesterday — at where else? — Louis Bohn Elementary School.

Willie wowed me

Yes, I was at the Willie Nelson concert Tuesday night at the Grand Theatre. And while I’ve never been a great fan of country-western music, I enjoyed every minute of it.

The 79-year-old icon of American music stood on the Grand’s stage, with guitar in hand, for an hour a half without a break, singing songs of many styles and eras, a number of which he has become famous for..

Nelson’s voice was stronger than I had imagined it would be, and his guitar-playing talent dazzled the audience.

I saw Jeff Heskett and William Wilson, the Grand’s co-directors Thursday morning, and asked them how things went. “Great,” they replied almost in unison. They deserve to be quite pleased their efforts.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 835-3030 or by e-mail at
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September 14, 2012
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Bohn in 8th grade when Monte Vista and Clover Middle School were the only middle schools and the district had been carved into areas that determined where you attended middle school. I went to see Mr. Bohn and found him to be an extremely kind gentleman that took the time to listen to my concerns about shifting schools. I have never forgotten how he sat there and listened to a 13 yo boy and explained how things worked. Its something I never forgotten even tho I only met him that one time. I am grateful for the impact he had on my life and wish he and his wife blessings and a good life in Utah. God Bless..

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