July 2020 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

The People of the Park:

A Visit with The Boumas

By Dale Dauten

Listen to Lee and Karen Boumas talk about their time at The Resort and you realize there are two ways to think about retirement. As Karen put it, “We came here and jumped in with both feet. We weren’t looking to sit and watch TV; we wanted a new adventure.” So they quickly got involved in church activities, and they joined in for all the dances (the photo below is from The Resort’s Prom Night) and they got food handlers cards so they could volunteer in the kitchen. Over the summers they handle the movies and Studio 55 and lead the line dancing. And that doesn’t count what they’re involved in as individuals — Water Aerobics and Crafty Ladies for Karen, Woodworking and Lapidary for Lee.

But that spirit of community involvement didn’t just start when they retired to Arizona. No, as happens with so many Resort residents, they learned their sense of community growing up in Minnesota.

KAREN: “I’m a city girl at heart.”

Karen was born in Lake Crystal, Minnesota. (That’s the lake in the photo below.) Her mother was a nurse and her father taught agriculture at a high school and then at vocational tech. Her dad kept what Karen described as a “hobby farm,” but it sounded like a fulltime hobby — 250 acres, with pigs, cows and sheep, and corn and beans in the field.

When I asked if she missed the farm life, Karen and Lee both laughed. “I wasn’t a farm girl,” she explained. “I’m not an animal lover and there were all the chores. I’m a city girl at heart.” Which explains why she left the farm to head to South Dakota State University to study to be a teacher. Those teaching plans got interrupted when she fell for a “very handsome” police officer from Madelia. And that’s where Lee enters Karen’s story.

So let’s back up and fill in Lee’s upbringing.

LEE: “You knew who you were dealing with.”

“I learned life lessons growing up on a farm in Northwest Iowa, in Rock Rapids,” Lee told me. (I looked up Rock Rapids and discovered it is the City of Murals. That’s one in the photo below – if you look closely you can see it’s on the side of building.) “My family grew corn, alfalfa and oats,” Lee added, “and we had cows, hogs and chickens. But it wasn’t a good time to be a farmer and halfway through my senior year, my dad gave up the farm and we moved to Minnesota.”

While Lee finished up high school, his dad went to work for the Land O’Lakes company, working in a facility that produced powdered milk. He eventually bought a route where he drove a truck to dairy farms to collect fresh milk.

Meanwhile, Lee joined the Army Guard and then went into a two-year program to prepare for a law enforcement career. That training worked: he got hired by the police department in Madelia as an officer and eventually was chosen as Chief of Police. Later, he got hired as Chief Deputy to the County Sheriff. It added up to 34 years. He says of that time, “You have the same issues as any police department, but with the small town you knew who you were dealing with.”

LEE & KAREN: “What time do you get off work?”

So, back to when the two became a couple. Lee was a policeman in Madelia and one of their tasks was directing traffic for the local funeral home. As a thank you to the officers, the funeral director invited the officers to dinner and chose a restaurant called The Answer. Meanwhile, Karen was home from college and had taken a job as a server… yes, working at The Answer. Karen waited on Lee’s table and he managed to slip in the classic question, “What time do you get off work?” And we know the answer.

They became a couple and discovered they shared a love of singing. Both became active in the local community theater and they were both in a production of “Oklahoma!” when they got married. (You may remember that musical featured “People will say we’re in love” and “Oh, what a beautiful morning” — just right.) But, Lee recalled, “The director wasn’t too happy that we took a week off to go on our honeymoon while we were rehearsing.”

Life in small town Minnesota (Madelia’s population is about 2300) sounded like something out of a happy-ending musical. They had two sons, and Lee was invited to be Assistant Coach on the local junior high and high school football teams (where he eventually got to coach his two boys) and Karen worked in daycare before managing an appliance store and she then became a co-teacher of kindergarten students, which took her back to her college-days dream of being a teacher, saying, “It was a dream job. I loved those little people.” And they got involved in their church and in the community theater, often playing opposite each other.

(Photos from “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Anything Goes”)

So life was grand… just one thing… that Minnesota weather. As Karen describes it, “Six months a year of hibernation and then comes the humidity.” And that brings us to Arizona.

THE RESORT: “We bought a place in about 20 minutes.

The Bouma’s life in Madelia seemed so Norman Rockwell perfect that I wondered about their decision to move away — wasn’t it a real wrench to leave? Karen replied breezily, “We never thought of it that way. The boys were grown. We were ready to retire and it was a new adventure. Our best friends – the couple we’d been going camping with for 30 years – had bought a place in Mesa and so we got online and started looking.” Lee added, “The reviews for The Resort were stellar, so we flew down and we bought a place in about 20 minutes. We sold our house in 20 minutes, too.”

That was two years ago and that takes us full circle, to where we began, with the Boumas “jumping in with both feet.” Karen says of their new life…

“We love it. We love the weather. We love the people.”


We hope to profile other residents in our upcoming issues. If you’d like to volunteer to be the subject of an article, or have someone you’d like to suggest, please let me know.

Or, If you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten


Email: ddauten@gmail.com

Text: 480-297-6244