Schenectady County

Boy’s passions were music, movement

Peter Boese’s short life was all about movement.
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Peter Boese’s short life was all about movement.

Boese suffered from cerebral palsy and was a quadriplegic, but had a passion for movement — whether it be moving his wheelchair through the woods or moving to music.

“It was sort of his fierce determination and love for life. It’s a physical expression of liberty for him to be able to move his body,” said his mother, Amy Button.

Boese died last week following a brief illness. He was 18.

Button said her son liked all kinds of music — bluegrass, jazz, rock ’n’ roll and reggae. He also liked composing music, which was somewhat difficult for him. He would often use Morse code to spell out notes and then indicate whether they were sharp, flat or natural.

“Sometimes he would sing the note. Sometimes he would use his communication device to say what he wanted,” his mother said.

Two of Boese’s original compositions were performed at a concert last June at Schenectady High School’s Black Box Theater. He had composed more than a dozen in his life.

“He loved very much to be with people and had quite a lot of friends. He was able to communicate pretty effectively with a number of people in spite of

all the barriers that he had,” his mother said.

His father, Stephen Boese, recalled that his son liked traveling through the woods on a stroller — the bumpier, the better. He also loved his family.

“He’s got a big family and he loved sitting in the middle [with] the noise, the confusion of a large family,” he said.

Boese said his son overcame a lot and he had a great deal of dignity.

“I’ll miss him being here. I’ll miss his laughter. I’ll miss just sitting with him, which we did a lot of,” he said.

A lifelong resident of Schenectady, Boese attended Paige Elementary School, Oneida Middle School and Schenectady High School before transferring to the Langan School in Albany for people with developmental disabilities.

Karen Rameaka, assistant director for the Langan School, said the staff was working on helping him improve his communication skills by using a series of electrical switches attached to head gear. He used the switches to help navigate his wheelchair.

Rameaka said that Boese had a sarcastic personality and was full of life.

“If the staff said something silly, you’d see him burst out laughing. He was very perceptive and very alert and aware — even though he couldn’t speak,” she said.

James Luther, director of technology at the Langan School, said he enjoyed working with Boese on his goal of being able to drive his wheelchair.

Even though Boese did not have great control over his wheelchair, he enjoyed the effort. “I could see what pleasure it gave for him to be able to do this,” he said.

Luther, who has known the Boese family for about a decade, said Peter showed remarkable patience, as is common with people with disabilities who depend on others.

“They’re willing to wait for us. Sometimes, it takes us years to catch up to what they really need and how we can help expand their world,” he said.

Calling hours will held from 4 to 7 p.m. today at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church at 1935 The Plaza in Schenectady. A memorial service will follow at 7 p.m. People may send contributions in Peter Boese’s memory to the Center for Rehabilitation Technology at Helen Hayes Hospital, West Haverstraw, N.Y.

Categories: Schenectady County

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