St. Cloud’s Santa
Edward Adam Boehme (pronounced Bayme) was born in Dayton, Ohio on October 26, 1877; one of eight children. German parents Franz Oskar and Louise Boehme may have instilled an early love for Christmas in him as evidenced by his generosity to the Florida community of St. Cloud.
After retiring as an agent for the Prudential Life Insurance Company, Edward and his third wife Anna arrived in St. Cloud in 1936. With Anna’s help, he dedicated himself to bringing happiness at Christmas to children and shut-ins for the next seventeen years of his life.
He began to solicit donations and wrote to various organizations months before Christmas seeking aid in helping to fill the hundreds of sacks of candy, nuts and fruit, distributed not only to the community, but to men in the military. Tickets for free Christmas dinners were given to the elderly in need.
Many in St. Cloud may remember his “state jars”. Edward labeled pint jars with the names of the states and placed each jar on a star of the flag he spread across a table. Residents and visitors would put money in their state jar, creating contests to see which state would receive the most donations.
Donning his Santa Claus suit Edward visited church programs, schools and a special program for kids at the Cloud Theater. His short, rotund figure and hearty laugh made him an ideal Santa; his sack seemed never to become empty. His generosity spread to East St. Cloud and Narcoossee as his custom of giving grew.
Failing health in 1952 concerned him but with the help of friends, Christmas came that year to many children and others in need. At the age of 76, Edward A. Boehme died on November 30, 1953; he was buried in Mt. Peace Cemetery.
The Boehme Memorial Fund Committee was formed the following year and continued for many more years. In December of 1967, five hundred bags of fruit, candy, etc. were distributed and thirty-four food orders to different stores were given to needy families.
Sources: “Orlando Sentinel” issues 1951 to 1974; “St. Cloud News” December 5, 1968
Photo: “St. Cloud News” December 5, 1968