The night Kimberly Gantz’s husband Collins (nicknamed Boobie) came home after having ankle surgery, he had a dream that Kim won’t ever forget. It was lucid dreaming, she says. “He just kept saying he saw nirvana and how beautiful it was. He said, ‘I hope I have this dream again.’ So he went back to sleep, and he woke up and he’d had the same dream. So I was thinking, ‘Wow, that’s weird.’”
What happened in the next few hours made it seem eerily prophetic. The next morning, Kim got up to make the chicken and potatoes Boobie had requested for brunch. When she went in to give him his morning medicine, she told him it was time to get up. He didn’t answer. “I just kind of looked over, and there was one single tear running down his cheek,” Kim says. Kim immediately sprang into action, crawling onto the bed and starting CPR, screaming for her son CJ to get help.
“He’s big,” Kim explains, “so I’m trying to revive him and bring him back… my son finally gets into action and he calls 911, and they get there in about five minutes and start working on him immediately. He died maybe four or five times in the house. They got his pulse back, and got him to the hospital. He was in a coma… and then at 10:00 a.m. on January 13th, he passed away.”
Boobie, only 49 years old, died from a blood clot and heart attack caused by what Kim calls a “perfect storm” of health issues mixed with the stress of the surgery. His wife and family were left in shock. And so was the Lancaster community. Boobie Gantz had spent his life contributing to Lancaster’s youth—a fact that Kim didn’t fully realize until he was gone. “He would have like four jobs at the same time, and he was always with children,” she laughs. “He worked with court-appointed children who were kicked out of school, or at the Prescott House… He worked at the Boys and Girls Club and Lincoln ISS.”
She continues, “One of the things that I really thought was excellent was that at Lincoln, he started something called ‘The Gentlemen’s Club.’ He taught kids how to do bills, how to pay rent… the real stuff that we need to be able to do.” Boobie also coached football at Lincoln Middle School, and started and coached AAU basketball teams. “I mean, I knew my husband was important, but I didn’t realize his impact until he passed away. He was phenomenal. His fire, and his desire to be a part of the city and be someone that the kids could look up to? He did it.”
For her part, Kim has also contributed years of her time and energy to helping the Lancaster community. She usually preferred to stay in the background, describing herself as a quiet leader compared to her husband’s legendary blunt, tell-it-like-it-is personality. She was a teacher at Price Elementary for 20 years and also worked with the Boys and Girls Club and as a volunteer with city youth, all while raising her own—and sometimes extended—family.
Boobie’s death left Kim with a void that she didn’t know how to fill. She was angry and heartbroken. She retired from her teaching career. “I went in my room, shut the door, and I stayed there for a long time,” Kim admits. “I thought, ‘Wow, I had a damn fairytale life, didn’t I? A happily ever after.’ I wanted people to feel it. I wanted people to see that I’m real—I bleed—because some people make up their own ideas of who you are and what you are. So I grabbed the community.” Kim started posting raw and real updates on social media chronicling her journey as a new widow. To her surprise, an outpouring of love and support came back to her from the very community she and her husband spent their lives helping.
It has been a long road of healing that Kim is still admittedly traveling, but she is starting to look towards the future. She plans to get her Master’s Degree and become an educational consultant. She has also decided to memorialize her husband through The Spice of Life Foundation, “because of what he did contribute to Lancaster.” The foundation, Kim explains, “will be for kids. If a student needs books, or needs to go on a field trip and can’t afford to go, or needs a scholarship… Or if there’s a kid who wants to go to a trade school, or whatever they want to do, we would provide that for them.” Spice of Life is already accepting donations, and Kim couldn’t be happier to continue Boobie’s legacy: “If he would’ve been alive, I just wonder what he would’ve accomplished. At 49, I think he did more than a lot of people achieve in their lifetime.”
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