John "Jay" Boeldt, 48, of Oak Park, died on Sept. 30, 2010 in his home with his husband, Wayne Franklin, and son, Daniel Boeldt Franklin, at his side. Diagnosed with liver cancer on New Year's Eve, he fought courageously over the next nine months.
Born on Nov. 30, 1961 and raised in the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis, he attended public schools and graduated from Howe High School. His creative talents were first manifest in school projects involving architecture, for which he received several awards. His homecoming floats were always over the top. He started his college education at Ball State in the architecture program and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. After a hiatus, he completed his education with a BFA in painting from the Herron School of the Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.
He honed his commercial creative skills with scenic design work at Set-up and Company in Indianapolis. Some of his designs graced the backdrops of the Indianapolis 500 and local television newscasts. He moved into custom framing at Multimedia Arts (Broad Ripple, Ind.) and subsequently at Anderson Frame Design (Worthington, Ohio).
Beginning in January 1998, Mr. Boeldt worked on his fine art full time. He used some of his techniques from his scenic design work to develop his fine art techniques. He had numerous solo and group shows in Columbus, Ohio; Wilmington, Del.; Oak Park; and Chicago. He designed the Children's Gallery at the Delaware Art Museum and had a solo show at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts.
In May 2000, he and his husband adopted their son, Daniel, from Guatemala. Their family moved to Oak Park in September 2001. Mr Boeldt worked with an artist co-op on Harrison Street in Oak Park prior to opening Plan B Gallery in Forest Park. He was active in the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and the Madison Street Merchants Association. He continued his volunteer work with the Holmes Elementary School PTO, Girl Scouts of America (helping Brownie troops to develop local murals to beautify Oak Park) and Hostelling International Chicago. Once Plan B Gallery closed he became the resident artist at Catawampus Gallery in the Flat Iron Building in Chicago's Wicker Park-Bucktown neighborhood.
Once his cancer was diagnosed as terminal, he and Mr. Franklin decided to get married in Iowa because they realized they would not be able to wait for Illinois to change the law. They were married in Davenport on April 26, 2010. Mr. Boeldt continued to paint and sketch until he could no longer do so. His last completed painting was of his son Daniel.
Jay Boeldt was the son of Gwen (Jerry) Dean (nee Barnett) and Jack (Janet) Boeldt. He is survived by his sister, Cindy (Gary) Farber; his brother, David (Tonya) Boeldt; nieces Courtney and Kristen, many step brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, and his friends, neighbors and fellow artists. He was preceded in death by his previous partner, Jim Lyons, of Indianapolis.
A celebration of Jay's life will occur as a show of his artwork at the Stephen Daiter Gallery, 230 W. Superior St., 4th Floor, this Sunday, Oct. 10 from 2-5 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Daniel B. Franklin Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 942, Oak Park 60303-0942.