Eulogy for Robert Boggs
By: Barbara Boggs Schlaff
Survivors from the Gambier Bay, Madam President, Board of Governors, members of the Gambier Bay VC-10 Association, family and guests.
My Father, Robert Boggs, would have celebrated his 90th birthday this year on September 27th. Attending this reunion was to be his present. He took his final flight on July 1st, but I am sure his spirit is with all of us today.
His pride and love of his Navy career and the many years as President of this association was only surpassed by his love for his family. Dad had four children, myself, Susan, Beth and Scott, 4 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. We all spent the week before his passing at Hilton Head Island. Dad really enjoyed our annual family vacation at the beach.
Dad’s work and Navy Reserves took him away much of our childhood, but in retirement he never missed a family vacation, holiday or special occasion. After Mom passed away, 8½ years ago, Dad moved to Florida full time. He and my brother, Scott spent every weekend renovating the condo that my parents owned. Dad soon moved in with Scott and devoted his weekdays to chauffeuring his youngest granddaughter, Ashley, Scott’s daughter, to and from school, swim practice and horseback riding. They both shared a sweet tooth, which was often satisfied by a stop at the French pastry shop on the way home from school.
We also have a condo in Florida which enabled me to visit Dad frequently throughout the years. He also came to Michigan for the summers to spend time with me and his great-grandchildren. He delighted in taking them to the Blue Angels Air show and explaining the aircraft. I have a cute picture of Dad standing in front of a Blackhawk helicopter with the girls just as a loud flyover occurred. Dad was smiling and the girls were covering their ears from the noise. Dad knew not to wear his hearing aids to an airshow.
Dad wore his Navy aviator T-shirts and his Gambier Bay VC10 ball cap every day. Where ever we went, he attracted a crowd of grateful civilians who thanked him for his service to our country. Shopping required twice the time as Dad would talk to each one of them. It’s wonderful to see the gratitude and respect that people have for “The Greatest Generation”.
A few years ago, Dad, Scott an Ashley were flying to Columbus, Ohio for Christmas. As they were waiting in Starbucks two Delta pilots walked up and immediately started talking to Dad. They were also Navy pilots and they had a great conversation with Dad talking about the various planes they had flown. They were piloting an earlier flight to Atlanta, and asked if Dad was on their flight. He was not. They took the tickets and returned. They said it would be an honor if Dad flew with them. Well, it didn’t stop there. They brought Dad, Scott and Ashley on board early, sat Dad and Ashley in the Pilot and Co-pilot seats and instructed Ashley how to set the tower and departure frequencies on the radio. They seated them in First class and during the flight, made an announcement to the passengers of Dad’s rank and 28 years of service.
As the self- proclaimed Navy Brat of the family, Dad and I put together an 85 page album of his military career. While sorting through all the pictures that he kept, I would ask Dad, if he was scared on some of his missions. He said, “Barbara, it was my job and a great honor to serve my country.”
His humble reply only increased my admiration of the “Greatest Generation”. One of the most interesting photos was one of Dad and his torpedo bomber crew. It was signed by his crew members, the gunner, Dan Merriam, who said “Good luck from the eyes in the back of your head, and the radio and radar operator Ken Woods, “Here’s to the fellow I hope always brings me home”. That is the way we all felt about Dad, a wonderful soul, a humble man and a mentor for his family.
Dad was always the first to be ready to go anywhere, Mass, swim meets, football games, and trips. He would be patiently waiting in the car while we children ran around finishing the last minute details. He also contributed a lot of humorous material for us in his later years. I always left chocolate in the refrigerator at my condo in Florida as his treat for checking that everything was okay in the summer months. I must have run out, so Dad had Scott take a picture of him lying on the floor with the refrigerator door open, pointing to the empty shelf where his chocolate should have been.
For the last 8 years, Dad took an annual ski trip to Salt Lake City, Utah with my brother Scott and his daughter, Ashley (and no Dad didn’t ski, but loved the hot tub surrounded by snow and sleigh rides to dinner on top of the on the mountain). The next Christmas with the help of my brother, they superimposed Dad’s face onto a downhill skier which he sent to all of us who wondered what he actually did do in Salt Lake City.
We girls rotate the family Christmas. One year, Dad came to Columbus, Ohio to celebrate at Susan’s. He had a bad cold. I had brought homemade Greek Baklava (his favorite) and he asked me to put some away until he felt better. Caught up in all the family festivities and the children, I must have forgot. But the following morning, under his bed was a Ziploc container of baklava that he had stashed sometime during the night.
Dad was everyone’s friend from the people he met at the malls, the Mom’s on Ashley’s swim team and our neighbor, Alan Mulally, Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company. His stories, even if somewhat embellished, captivated all audiences.
Active until the end, Dad was on his way to church when he had a fatal aneurism. Put on life support, we all made arrangements to fly to West Palm Beach on the next flight to say our goodbyes. With only sketchy details of the situation, my Delta representative assured me Dad would be just fine as he had so many flights booked to Detroit, Tucson and Columbus in the coming months. Unfortunately, God must have needed a trusted pilot for some mission. He will be greatly missed by all of us.
I would like to end this memorial with my favorite prayer. Ever-watchful God, you are our refuge and strength in every time and place. Send your blessings upon those who are serving our country in the armed forces. By your powerful spirit, shield them from all harm. Uphold them in good times and in bad, especially when danger threatens. Let your peace be the sentry that stands over their lives, so that they may return safely. Put an end to wars all over the earth, and hasten the day when the human family will rejoice in lasting peace. Grant this through Christ our Lord, our Son, who lives and reigns as the Prince of Peace, both now and forever. Amen
Front – Scott Boggs, Robert (Bob) Boggs, Barbara (Boggs) Schlaff
Back – Beth (Boggs) Ashe, Susan(Boggs) O’Rourke