Arlene's Story

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VIENNA, VA - On Thursday, February 1, 2018, at 6:20 p.m., the Lord escorted Arlene Doris (Boehm) Byrd home to heaven. She touched many lives during her 92 years, and will be greatly missed by all who truly knew her.
The youngest of Charles Frederick and Mary Louise (Siegel) Boehm's six children, Arlene was born at home in Methuen, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1926, as the noontime whistles of the textile mills in nearby Lawrence, Mass., were sounding. Growing up at 7 Craven Street during the Great Depression, she learned a strong work ethic from her parents. Fond childhood memories included collecting discarded bottles for their deposits, in order to have a nickel to see a movie with her best friend, Esther Hurrell; running home from school at midday to take lunch to her father at Findeisen's Dairy (and often also getting a free cup of fresh ice cream, partially-frozen, the way she always ate ice cream throughout her life); listening to "The Shadow" and "Gangbusters" on the radio in the evenings; taking a warm brick to bed in the wintertime; eating green apples (with Esther) in the summertime; her dog, Poochie; visiting her grandfather, and grandmother Boehm's farm, on Brookdale Avenue; helping clean "Muter" Siegel's house; and making dumplings with her mother for the sauerbraten.
The Edward F. Searles High School yearbook (class of 1943) described Arlene as "...one of those quiet, studious classmates...a real friend..." and notes that "...her fine manners, pleasing smile, and class spirit are recognized by all." After graduation, she attended the McIntosh Business School and obtained her first job with the Lawrence Wholesale Drug Company. Arlene came to Washington D.C., in May 1945, to work for the federal government, and the American Red Cross in support of the war effort. After the war, she remained in Washington to work for the Navy Department in the Ships Disposal Unit, and other offices. In 1949, Arlene obtained clerical employment with the recently-formed Central Intelligence Agency and, in 1951, became the first employee assigned with integrated cover to the CIA's station in Bogota, Colombia.
Arlene met Gene Lynde Byrd, the man who would eventually become the love of her life, while she was with friends on a Potomac River cruise in 1949. They dated off and on before Arlene went to Bogota, but after she had been away for about eight months, Gene called long-distance and asked Arlene to marry him. In December 1951, Arlene returned to marry "my dearest Gene" and enjoyed nearly 49 years of love until his passing in July 2000. During that time, Arlene gave birth to a daughter (Deborah) and a son (Scott), maintained a warm, tidy, secure, and loving home, and poured her heart into her family.
Arlene possessed excellent cooking skills (pies were a forte), learned from her mother and self-taught. She was at her best when entertaining family and friends, especially during the holidays, when aromas of baked goods or wonderfully prepared meals filled the home. She knew how to sew, as well, whether it was a simple cover for a pillow, a Halloween costume for her kids, or a dress from a pattern. She was economical and modest without being sparse, and was stylish and tasteful without being pretentious. Her home and her personal life always reflected that.
In the 1970s, Arlene returned to work using the same clerical skills she had acquired many years earlier, eventually retiring from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1988. She then managed to travel to some of the places she had long dreamed of seeing when she was youngGermany, England, Italy, Australiaand also made the occasional weekend trip to Atlantic City with Gene to play "the slots." She loved "going home" each year to visit her parents, brothers and sisters, and relatives in New England. In later years, she attended a number of high school reunions and enjoyed reconnecting with classmates from her school days. Her friendships were lifelong, and she always kept in touch with a letter or a phone call and, when possible, a visit. But Arlene was happiest when she was home with her husband and her kids.
In addition to her beloved husband Gene, Arlene was preceded by her parents; her sisters Marion (2002) and Gladys (2011); and her brothers Walter (1942), Charles (1999), and Edward (2016). She is survived by her two children; as well as nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends who will miss her dearly.
A closed-casket visitation will be held February 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Money & King Funeral Home, 171 Maple Avenue West, Vienna, VA.
Funeral services will be held February 24, beginning at 12 p.m., at Antioch Christian Church, 1860 Beulah Road, Vienna, VA, with burial to follow at National Memorial Park, 7482 Lee Highway, Merrifield, VA.
In lieu of flowers, the children requests that donations be made in Arlene's name to the Memorial Fund of Antioch Christian Church, 1860 Beulah Road, Vienna, VA 22180.
Published on February 18, 2018
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