Boger’s generosity will live on after his death

Boger’s generosity will live on after his death

Edwin and Margaret Boger, of North Providence, don’t have much time left together, but they’re spending his last days laughing with each other and loving the people around them. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Edwin Boger has been told he likely only has days or weeks to live, but the local man who has spent much of 96 years on this Earth giving to others says his wife isn’t letting his incurable congestive heart failure steal his joy.

He’s still singing German drinking songs, still holding his wife of 58 years Margaret, and still talking about the things that matter most, including living with an outward focus.

Boger, a resident of North Providence for 90 years and a World War II veteran, is known locally for the humble consistency of his charitable efforts over the years, volunteering at local food banks and helping those less fortunate in any way he could.

What many people might not know about him is that money he and his wife donated through a trust formed in the name of their late son many years ago will be used beyond his death to develop living cardiac tissue at Boston Children’s Hospital, and that the second half of that donation is paying to educate residents, physicians and nurses at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. The two got a tour of the Boston Children’s ICU to get a firsthand look at the research happening.

Edwin and Margaret have led simple lives throughout their marriage, rarely splurging on anything but travel, and it’s allowed them to help others, say those who know them. Devout Lutherans, the Belmore Road residents helped form the Our Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Greenville several years ago.

“Ed has had a real passion for serving others, particularly those in need,” said his wife.

He was known as “the cereal man” in Providence based on his deliveries of cereal to shelters, and made meals at the Epiphany Soup Kitchen in Providence for some 18 years. He would deliver food and toiletries to various facilities, including the Amos House, Crossroads Rhode Island, and the Providence Rescue Mission. Shaw’s up the street had a program for picking up produce and bread, and he would do so regularly.

“He’s done so much for individuals that I don’t know about,” Margaret said.

Fifty-eight years married to the love of her life has gone by far too quickly, said Margaret, who will turn 85 years old this Thursday, Nov. 7, her birthday coming a month after her husband’s.

“Your love grows, you have to allow it to grow,” she said. “You have to want it to grow, you have to water it, you have to fertilize it.”

Along the way there’s been plenty of heartache, she said, particularly when their son, also Edwin, died at 3 years old of a defective heart.

“He was the love of our life,” she said. “I feel I’m the woman I am because of him.”

She said young Edwin was very bright, just like his father, who has a doctorate in biology and taught at Worcester State University.

It’s been difficult to see her husband go downhill, Margaret said, tears again flowing as she recounted how she recently gave him permission to die and go to heaven.

“It was the most difficult gift I could give him,” she said.

Her husband has lived with such devotion and dedication to others, said Margaret. In 1996, he was recognized for his charitable efforts when he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch through the state.

A retired surgical nurse, working 25 years at Rhode Island Hospital, Margaret would help her husband where she could, supporting him in his outreach efforts. The two of them together are proud of the contribution they were able to make to the two hospitals.

As a nurse, she said, she always had the approach that she should see Christ in every patient. When she left nursing, that changed to seeing Christ in each person. She and her husband were able to share compassion rooted in their deep faith.

Even after Ed had open heart surgery and could no longer lift pots and pans, he still delivered bread and pastry to local food pantries and churches, developing a particular affection for the large Liberian population in Providence.

Ed was “a dynamic visionary,” very intelligent and always looking to help others even as a professor and department chairman, said his wife. The Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Boger Endowed Scholarship is still given at Worcester State. It was during his time at the school that he successfully pushed for new science equipment, an effort that directly led to a significant investment.

Not much about their life has gone according to script, Margaret meeting and marrying the much older divorcee Ed at Valparaiso University after she’d visited the school he’d gone back to after deciding to leave the jewelry toolmaking trade.

She said she was smitten by his charitable heart and quick wit. It might seem like chance how they ended up hanging out on campus, put together after someone asked Ed to show the Ohio native around campus because he didn’t want her to be the third wheel, but Margaret knows differently.

“I truly believe God brought us together,” she said.

Even the marriage proposal was unorthodox, Ed asking Margaret over the phone if she was going to ask him to marry her.

The two say they have lived life with the philosophy of pulling something good out of pain, and to use their own pain to help others, an approach they plan to live out until they have no more days together.

Comments

It is nice to read about the generosity of good people. Thank you for this article.