The 49ers haven’t played any games this offseason, but they’ve just suffered one of their biggest losses in recent years.
Jan Boehm, who was one of the most loyal, passionate, and caring members of the 49ers Faithful, passed away on Friday, April 30th after a difficult battle with central nervous system lymphoma.
“Jan was arguably our most visible and outwardly supportive fan,” said 49ers Co-Chairman Dr. John York. “She helped each of us appreciate – every single day – what it meant to be a member of the 49ers. She reminded us of how lucky we were to be a part of this great organization and she made us want to be a part of her life, too.”
Perhaps no member of the Faithful was more spirited about their beloved football team than Boehm, who was simply known around team headquarters as “Niner Jan.”
But she was more than that. To us, she was our “Niner Mom.” It said as much on the birthday and holiday cards she routinely sent to players, coaches and members of the front office.
“She was such a die-hard fan, but cared about everyone on the team,” left tackle Joe Staley recalled. “She would write us nice cards every year, and they were all personal. There was never a generic card, everything was personalized. She really cared about the team, and it’s really sad that she’s not going to be with us anymore, but she’ll always be with us in spirit.”
Beyond the numerous cards of well wishes personalized with her unrelenting spirit, Boehm would spend countless hours in her nearby kitchen in Sunnyvale preparing tasty treats to personally deliver to team headquarters each week of the regular season.
Win or lose, for the past 20 seasons, Boehm has been there to support her team. Ever since she witnessed the 49ers dominant performance in Super Bowl XXIV over the Denver Broncos, Boehm became fascinated with the franchise.
She would soon begin collecting memorabilia that would nearly reach 1,000 items proudly displayed in her home. But Boehm’s passion for the team wasn’t based on the performances on the field; it was rooted in the character of the players and coaches that she observed off of it.
Once Boehm got more involved in following the team over the past decade, she began bringing home-made baked goods to players and staff members as part of her weekly visits to 4949 Centennial Blvd.
Boehm’s annual arrival was eagerly awaited by many in the building, including security staff member Dario Montenegro, who recalled seeing Boehm deliver baked goods for 10 of the 12 seasons he’s worked for the 49ers.
“She was always upbeat, always happy. No matter what the 49ers did, she would always say, ‘We can do better!’” Montenegro remembered. “That’s what you want your fans to be like. No matter what the team went through, she was there for us all of the time, no matter what. She was always holding up the team.”
Boehm also held up the 49ers efforts in the community by frequently contributing to the 49ers Foundation. As an English teach for over 20 years, Boehm took a particular interest in helping the 49ers keep kids safe, on track and in school.
“She saw the difference you can make when you give a child the support they need to be successful in school,” said Joanne Pasternack, Director of Community Relations and The 49ers Foundation. “She didn’t just talk about being a fan; she really supported us on and off the field. Jan showed the personal touch that really makes people feel appreciated.”
In her memory, Boehm has continued her personal touch, requesting that 10 percent of her estate be donated to the 49ers Foundation to support low income youth.
But it wasn’t the first time Boehm had made such a generous gesture towards a 49ers-related cause.
When 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois felt the devastation left by a lethal earthquake which rocked his homeland of Haiti, Boehm stepped in with a $5,000 donation to the American Red Cross. As a native of Louisiana, Boehm was all too familiar with the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina. She felt it was necessary to help out.
“It was so nice, she didn’t have to do it, but the fact that she would do things for all of us, we really appreciated it,” Jean Francois said. “To see all the love that she gave us, that comes from something deep down, something out of your heart.
“She’ll never be forgotten by us. She’ll always be remembered. We know we can’t see her in the physical form, but we know she’s here in spirit.”
Boehm wrote this in a Christmas card she sent me this past season:
“Taylor, Keep up the good work! The 49ers are so lucky to have you!”
But really, we were all so, so lucky to have her.
Tags: Joe Staley, John York, Ricky Jean-Francois
Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments »