I was devastated when I learned a fire consumed The Bohemian Bed and Breakfast, and took the life of my friend and mentor, Bobbi McCrea, her precious girls Abby and Savannah, and 3 of her guests. The tragedy is overwhelming and beyond comprehension. It has left New Ulm devastated and grieving – it has left multitudes of loved ones devastated and grieving. I too am grieving and remembering Bobbi…
We met when Kevin and I were guests celebrating our anniversary at The Bohemian. She and Mark Wood, her husband then, had started the B&B earlier that year and were eager teachers as we shared our someday-dream of owning our own bed and breakfast. As we found our property, they openly shared everything we could imagine – their experiences renovating and opening, their business plans, even their tax returns. We talked of online marketing and community networking. We even reviewed our mortgage agreement during a stay in New Ulm, and cancelled when we realized we had unknowingly walked into one of those now infamous sub-prime mortgages – we could have lost everything long ago had we not changed courses then.
Over the past eight years since we’ve opened our bed and breakfast, Bobbi has been there as a mentor and a friend. One of the few who can relate to the blessings and challenges that being an innkeeper represents. And at every turn, she was enthusiastic and determined, and pressed on through any challenge. She truly embodied the spirit of her “hospitality savant” title, and that spirit was infectious.
I cherish the times I’ve spent with Bobbi. The times she mentored and we later related innkeeping experiences. The times Kevin and I celebrated birthdays and anniversaries at The Bohemian (and that one year Abby offered the complimentary Shell’s beer herself, and hung out with us for an hour in our room with her kitty, as the cool breeze blew in the window – it was strikingly memorable). The time my Bible Bunch gals spent our fall reunion at The Bohemian. The time my friend and innsitter Cindy and I escaped for a girls weekend at The Bohemian. I always felt special that I was the one allowed in the kitchen or on the back porch late at night having a glass of wine alone with Bobbi. And felt I’d really arrived as an innkeeper when we had our first innkeeper trade when she and Charlie and Abby stayed here at the Nicolin Mansion while she was pregnant with Savannah.
In some regards I’m envious of those who shared her life on a more regular basis, as our few times a year turned into once a year and into once every couple years. But as I’ve read other’s tributes, I share their sentiment of being anything but grateful for having been given any time with her at all.
On Father’s Day we drove past Bobbi’s house, so beautifully repainted and landscaped, and Kevin asked if I wanted to stop. I did, but said I didn’t want to intrude on a holiday, that we’d stop if she was outside. She wasn’t, so we didn’t. I wished I’d have at least knocked.
You have touched my life more and I will miss you more than you probably ever realized…