LONGMONT, Colo. — Cheron and Gerry Boland have been married 54 years. They’ve spent 52 of those years in the same Lyons home where they raised three kids.
“I know he loved this town,” Cheron said, gazing at one of her wedding photos.
Now, Cheron is counting the seconds, waiting for any sign of her 80-year-old husband, who’s also a beloved father, grandfather and retired school teacher and coach.
Cheron struggles to recall the last moments she saw Gerry alive on Thursday morning of last week.
“We were sleeping and the sirens and speakers came up,” Cheron said.
The couple awoke to an alert saying “flooding is imminent, evacuate now.”
“Gerry said it was just raining. ‘Let’s not get out. We`re okay,’” Cheron said. “I said, ‘No, we have to go. Come on.’”
Cheron got in her car. Gerry got in his truck. They were in the process of driving to their oldest daughter’s house in Longmont, but somewhere along the way, they were split up. Cheron spent four hours waiting for her husband before getting stuck in flood waters herself. She was rescued by heroes using a backhoe.
The last time anyone saw Gerry was early Thursday morning at the evacuation center in Lyons Elementary School.
“We’ve heard that he was the only one who knew how to turn the lights on in the big building,” Gerry’s daughter Amy Hoh said. “He got the lights on for everybody.”
Gerry had that knowledge because he was a sixth grade teacher in Lyons for 30 years, and a coach for 23.
Crews found Gerry’s truck Monday night under water, in the middle of the St. Vrain River. But no sign of Gerry. He is one of more than 300 others unaccounted for in Boulder and Larimer counties. Each has a family, each has a story.
“He’d be mad at me for crying and he’d tell me to toughen up,” Hoh said. “He always sounded like a true coach. He would tell me to pick up my head and toughen up.”
While he has been missing, Cheron has been focusing on the respects that were always paid to her husband.
“Everyone always said, ‘Your husband was the best teacher I ever had,’” Cheron recalls. “So I know they’ve all been out looking for him.”
Those are the thoughts that now give the family fleeting bits of comfort.
“It’s been calls from people that my dad taught in school, telling us they’re going to move mountains until they find him; they’re not stopping until they find him,” Hoh said, fighting back tears. “We just appreciate that.”
As the seconds tick by, however, Hoh said her family “loses a little hope every day.” And while they haven’t gotten answers, what they have gotten, Hoh said, “is more love than we ever knew existed.”
“But we haven’t him,” Hoh said. “We’re just praying we find him.”