Deborah Kay Boan, “Robi” as she was known to friends from college and her early career, died just after midnight on March 5, 2023, in a hard battle against cancer. She was 67 and had lived in Franklin, Tennessee, since 1996.
Kay, or Robi, touched hearts and changed lives throughout her rich and too-short life. She and Rudee (or Devon to friends in Tennessee) fell into their love-at-first-sight fifty-year love affair on her first day at Lenoir-Rhyne College, and the three children they shared have become exemplars of the deep love and commitment she gave to them, not to mention a keen wit and nimble humor. She treasured her family with all her heart and blessed them with a sacrificial spirit that supported and elevated their dreams and built enough memories to last the rest of their lives.
She forged deep and intimate friendships at every station in her journey—hanging out with the “Fritzers” at LR, as a teacher of hearing impaired children, as a creative middle school librarian and assistant principal, as a skilled and inspiring administrator, at cross-stitch conventions, with a cherished quilting group, among a Sunday School class that grew into a second family. She was a scholar—Doctor Kay Boan, Ed.D.—with a Jeopardy-level knowledge of pop culture, sports, music, and language. A talented artist in multiple genres, she painted snow-covered landscapes that still hang in North Carolina homes, cross-stitched, quilted, sewed, and was a brilliant penman and calligrapher of unrivaled beauty.
She loved poetry, novels, justice, the Universal Christ, slow dancing, sitting on the deck, All Creatures Great and Small, and musical theater. The last week of her life, she watched the concert staging of Les Miz by herself from a hospital bed, then texted her family Jean Valjean’s dying words—“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
She was the daughter of Titus Tarleton and Byrdie Robinson. She married Rudee Devon Boan on July 31, 1976, and is survived by him, their sons John Peyton Boan and Jordan Boan (and his wife Sarah), and their daughter Madison Boan (and her husband Devin Destrade).
Her memorial service will be at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, March 22, at Franklin First United Methodist Church, with inurnment to follow in the church’s memorial garden. Bryan Brooks will officiate. Friends may visit with the family and each other starting at 1:00. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County.