BIO Index

Ron "Ronnie" Boenau


It has been a real blessing to read the bios of the SHS Class of 61. The last time I checked the website, there was a collection of over 2000 years of really interesting post-high school life experiences with more being posted every week.

My post-SHS years began with Manatee Junior College (MJC) [later, I learned, Manatee Community College, and still later, State College of Florida]. Going to MJC was an easy decision for me since I didn't know what I wanted to do. Thanks to years in the SHS marching band, concert band, orchestra, and Sailor Circus band, I was able to obtain several music scholarships to begin my college career. After graduating with a civil technology degree from MJC [which did not qualify as a pre-university degree], I worked on a construction survey team for the Florida State Road Department where my first survey party experience was working on the reconstruction of Old Bradenton Road in 1963-64 [does anyone remember that construction?]. Our survey party chief always had us take our lunch breaks at the Ringling School of Art so we could watch all the female students walk between classes. One unique experience was my attempt to pound a survey stake into the ground which took longer than usual. There was also an unusual fleet of utility trucks that suddenly appeared followed by a small fleet of police cars and a couple other emergency vehicles. As it turned out, the stake I was pounding went through the communication cable to the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport, temporarily curtailing communications to the airport. Today, this would be considered a terrorist event. With that experience behind me, I decided that it would be better for me to be in design rather than construction, so I returned to MJC for an AA degree which would allow me to get into a university.

I applied for and was accepted into the University of Florida's Engineer College where I remained for a couple years until the University suggested that I take a semester break since I was academically challenged [so to speak]. I accepted their very kind offer and worked in Chicago with an engineering company as an engineering technician for a semester which was followed by a reapplication to the University to let them know that I was no longer academically challenged. They accepted me back and after two more semesters of not really studying, the University sent me another letter indicating that they were right in the first place. So I took another sabbatical away from the academic environment. Once again, I accepted their most generous offer and I worked as an engineering technician with a New York City engineering firm. I found out that NYC is not the place to be for a person trying to save money as a "laid off" college student so I applied to the Peace Corps and was accepted. The training was in Davis, California and just before we were headed to Nepal to work on public works projects, the program was cut back and I was having difficulty with the language so I dropped out. I used the travel funds for returning to Florida that they gave me and I stayed in California to try to get a job overseas, but that didn't work out either so I headed back to Florida with no money. I found a car rental agency that needed someone to drive a car to Texas, so I got a ride half-way to Florida and eventually ended up in Florida.

On the way through Tallahassee, I visited the girl that I had been dating for the past couple years, proposed to her and, to my surprise, she accepted. An article and her picture was in the Sarasota newspaper, but one month before the wedding, she suggested that she was not ready for marriage and I agreed that marriage was probably not a good idea for either one of us at that time. With all these life issues not working out [college, Peace Corps, marriage, temp jobs only], I was beginning to wonder if anything in my life would work out. Then things began to change.

I re-applied to the University of Florida, was accepted on probation, studied this time, got an 'A' in nearly every subject and was able to pull my overall grade point average to just barely above passing and graduated. I received a job offer in Washington, DC and worked on the design of the new Metrorail system [so be sure to use it when you visit the Nation's Capital]. I began with a consulting engineering firm in DC and later was accepted into the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) where I have been ever since. During these years in DC, I worked on the personal staff of a U.S. Senator, a Congressman, and the Administrator of a Federal agency. For a few years, I headed up the Transit Intelligent Transportation Systems Initiative as a Division chief now work in international activities to develop transportation agreements between the U.S. and other countries. This responsibility involves conducting trade missions to other countries and receiving international delegations visiting the U.S. in order to expand the market opportunities for U.S. transportation firms. Recent agreements have been signed between the U.S. and China and the U.S. and India.

In spite of the struggles in getting my professional career off the ground, I have come to realize the biblical principle more and more that that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose [Romans 8:28].

Soon after landing my first profession job, God allowed me to meet my future wife, Barbara. We were married in 1973, had two children, Andy and Susie. We home schooled them during their last several years of secondary education in order to develop godly character and provide for a sound educational experience. By the time Andy finished the equivalent of the 12th grade from homeschooling, he already had 22 hours of college credit in biology, chemistry and English at the local community college. He was accepted and graduated from Virginia Tech and is now a civil engineer working in Richmond, VA. He has a wife and two children.

For Susie, by the time she finished her 11th year as a home schooled student, she already had 22 hours of college credit through the local community college, transferred to Manatee Community College in Bradenton, and spent some time working at Doctor's Hospital in Sarasota [was anyone there in the late 1990s?]. She was later accepted into the University of Florida where she majored in biochemistry and molecular biology. Marshall University accepted her into their Medical School, and she did her residency at the University of Cincinnati and is now an OB-GYN. It's nice, but her profession does not help me that much.

Barb and I have been trained as biblical counselors where we have seen the tremendous benefits of turning one's life over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, especially in these circumstances where a person just doesn't know what will happen next in life. We have seen the need to trust in the Lord in all things and to not lean on our own understanding, but in all ways, to acknowledge God and let God direct our paths.

I am looking forward to reading other bios and hope to see you at the reunion. Send me an email if you have time. I look forward to hearing from you. God Bless,

Ron Boenau