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Organized to the end, Boward will be remembered in tangible way

October 21, 2007|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs "A Life Remembered." The story takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Robert W. "Bob" Boward, who died Oct. 14 at the age of 88. His obituary appeared in the Oct. 15 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Robert Boward's family knew he was organized and efficient. But they were amused to benefit from his task mastery in a variety of ways even after he died.

Robert, known to friends and family as "Bob," had prepared document packets and concise information registries that reduced the burden of funeral planning and legal proceedings following his death.

Everything they needed was arranged tidily in manila envelopes.

Bob died Oct. 14 at the age of 88.

The next day, the phone battery died. When his daughter, Cheryl Nichols, looked at his calendar, she saw he had written "change phone batteries" at the top of the October page.

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"There are notes all over the house to change filters and all kinds of things," Cheryl said. "He had every one of the (church) envelopes filled out for the rest of the year."

"He was very efficient," said Charlotte, Bob's wife of more than 59 years, whom he fondly referred to as "Tot." "Everything had to be done yesterday. Me, being from the South, I could wait 'til tomorrow."

Bob was born in Hagerstown and grew up on Summit Avenue. While in school, Bob set state records in track and field, and delivered orders on bicycle for Chatkins Pharmacy.

He attended Hagerstown Junior College (now Hagerstown Community College) for two years, then joined the military, serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps 302nd troop carrier squadron in England during World War II.

Back in the states in 1947, Bob began working as a letter carrier. Charlotte, who was from Ashland, Ky., had been staying in Hagerstown with her sister, Edith "Dede" Blankenship, and working at Rand's cut rate shop. Bob went into the store delivering mail.

He took a shine to Charlotte, and asked if he could pick her up after work and drive her home.

"I said, 'Yeah, I guess so.' Then I thought I didn't know him that well, so when it was time to go, I hid behind the scales - I wasn't very big - and waited for the trolley," Charlotte said, laughing. "I saw him drive by three times."

Charlotte's family friend, Charles Corderman, called the post office to find out more about Bob.

His co-workers reported that he was "a fine lad," Charlotte said.

On their first date, Bob told Charlotte, "You're gonna marry me, you know."

Charlotte said she thought, "Oh my goodness, I'm dating a crazy man," as she intended to move back to Kentucky.

Instead, she continued dating him and they wed the following year on Charlotte's birthday, Feb. 14, 1948.

The couple had two children, Cheryl and Gary. When their parents died, Bob also took in his nephews, Larry and Jeff Boward, and raised them as his sons.

Later, Charlotte's sister and her two children moved into the home for nearly four years.

The family remembers Bob as being a strict parent with high expectations.

"But we knew he loved us unconditionally," Cheryl said. In later years, Cheryl gave her father a plaque with the Bible verse, "To whom much is given, much is required."

"(Cheryl) knew that's the way he felt," Charlotte said.

Bob went on to become superintendent of the Northern Avenue Post Office.

He was actively involved in his children's activities, clearing ground for Valley Little League and helping establish a senior division for the league.

Some of the family's warmest memories of Bob relate to his time at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Hagerstown.

His practice of making a satisfying pot of coffee between church and Sunday school services earned him the nickname "Mr. Coffee." During services, he kept congregation members around him supplied with hard candy or mints.

"Everyone around him looked forward to it during the service," Jeff Boward said. "You could hear the papers rattling."

While Bob displayed a propensity for athletics throughout the years, his singing ability was, well ... nothing to write home about, his family joked.

"He knew all the words to the songs, but he couldn't carry a tune in a bucket," Charlotte said. "He still would sing up a storm. He didn't sing in tune, but he sang from the heart."

Charlotte said Bob was one of the kindest men she ever met.

Rather than criticize people with whom he disagreed, he would say, "Well now, that's their characteristic. Everyone doesn't think alike," Charlotte said.

As his health declined over the past couple of years, Bob continued helping his neighbors, taking them newspapers, fruit from his trees and Charlotte's homemade vegetable soup.

An unassuming man, Bob didn't draw attention to himself.

His children said he often would ask, "Heaven's sake. What's all this fuss about?"

Bob's family will remember him in the simple moments doing the things he enjoyed, including watching the news and the Baltimore Orioles play on television.

As for now, the family is looking for a note with one of Bob's special recipes before Christmas arrives.

Known as "Pappy" to his grandchildren, he concocted a special drink they dubbed "Pappy's punch."

"As soon as everyone would come in the door, they would go get it," Gary said.

The family is confident that, efficient and thoughtful as he was, Bob left the recipe.

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