Just as words cannot describe the Blueberry Patch, words cannot summarize Dallas Bohrer. It is the sad job of this newspaper to try.
Dallas Bohrer entered the world in 1933 in Oklahoma and left it on July 6. In the 81 years between, he brightened the worlds of those around him.
Dallas grew up in Texas, where he played high school football and earned a college ball scholarship before a heart murmur changed his path. Dallas also lived in Kansas and Arizona; he worked for a clothing retailer in the former and owned an art gallery and design studio in the latter. He moved to St. Petersburg, ran St. Pete Beach’s Merry Pier, and opened the first Blueberry Patch on July 7, 1977. A decade later he decided to grow the Blueberry Patch in Gulfport.
Locals fell in love with the Blueberry Patch, a haven for artists and musicians. Long before found object art gained popularity, Dallas coined the term “Palletology,” the art of creating furnishings and sculpture from discarded wooden shipping pallets. Dallas and fellow artistic spirits created a glittery, eclectic haven from such objects.
“It’s like being inside a Christmas tree, looking out,”one Patch Pal –the name for Blueberry Patch supporters –told the Gabber in 2003, when Dallas and the Patch had a dust-up with the city’s building department. It looked then as though the Patch’s days were numbered; only the intercession of Gulfport’s brand-new city manager, Tom Brobeil, and the volunteer effort of Patch Pals who helped alleviate code concerns, saved the Blueberry Patch from layers of bureaucracy.
From there, Dallas and the Blueberry Patch grew. His thoughts on recycling and cooperative living evolved into Sharevival: Sharing to Survive, Surviving To Share, a nonprofit organization.
Patch Pal Martha Muzzey described the Patch as “a beautiful twinkling gallery of recycled art and self-expression where love, peace and creativity take center stage.”
In recent years – and in no small part thanks to Brobeil’s tolerance for the Patch –the Patch blossomed into a well-respected community retreat. In 2009, then-vice-mayor Sam Henderson nominated Dallas for the Spirit of Gulfport Award.
Dallas is preceded in death by his son, Brock; his daughter, Brook; his parents Lee and Ruth; and his older brother, Darwin. Survivors include his daughter, Becca Tara Beane; grandsons Daniel, Duane, David and Jeffrey Beane; brothers Dennis, John, James, Richard, sister Sheryl Fulfer and a host of nephews and nieces.
He is also survived by his legacy of love, peace and, as he liked to say, blueberries.
The Blueberry Patch will announce Dallas’ Celebration of Life in the near future.
The Gabber received a host of tributes to Dallas; we’ve included two that touched us here. You can add your own thoughts online by clicking “comment” underneath the headline.
“The first time I met Dallas Bohrer was at the Blueberry Patch in 2006. He showed me the donation bucket, smiled, and told me to have a good time. I’ve been back to the Patch many times since, and I’ve always have done just that. I can’t speak to the many interesting decades of Dallas’ life before we met. I’ve only heard the stories second hand. All I know is that Dallas and his crew created a place that celebrated art, music and friendship. A place where I always felt welcomed. When I nominated Dallas for the Spirit of Gulfport award in 2012, it was because of his dedication to keeping the Patch true to that celebration. He received that award because many others agreed. That little backyard haven embodies what I love most about Gulfport: creativity, acceptance and fellowship. I can’t picture Gulfport without it. The last time I saw Dallas at the Patch, he was in a wheelchair and not feeling particularly great. But you know what? He wanted to listen to the bands and talk to the people. He also wanted me to sneak a cup of beer to him, which I did. Even in his twilight, he wanted to be in the center of the celebration. I respect that. Cheers to you, Dallas. Thanks for the gifts that you left us along the way.”– Mayor and Patch Pal Sam Henderson
“I have so many wonderful memories of Dallas; Dan and I quickly learned that the truly fun part of the Blueberry Patch was sitting at the ‘gate.’ We met virtually every icon, reprobate and personality who passed through Gulfport in our almost 10 years at the door. Dallas knew them all; he remembered their stories and encouraged them to go back out into the world and make more. Musicians, writers, artists, poets and madmen, to paraphrase my husband. Famous and infamous, unknown and to be known, Dallas knew them all. He was generous, kind and funny. He was a fraud, a con man, a dear and a genuine person, all at the same time. He had a joyous enthusiasm for creativity, a childlike innocence and exuberance for each new idea. His ability to see people as they could be has been (and continues to be) a support and boost for both the creative and the practical. His support, frequently tacit, has buoyed many a person through some tough times and launched them into new adventures.”–Juju Stevens