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Boggess died peacefully in her sleep
on May 1, 2014. She was 100 years old.
She was born Margaret Elmira Miller on September
11, 1913 at her grandparents’ house in Pomona. Her
parents, Nellie and Charles, lived on a five-acre dairy
on Kingsley and Monte Vista in Pomona. She and her
two brothers, Harold and Alfred, grew up roaming the
surrounding groves and enjoying trips to the beach.
Life wasn’t all play. Young Margaret made at least a
dozen pies a week to help feed the many men who
worked in the dairy. Expert baking was a talent she
would be known for throughout her life.
Margaret graduated from Chaffey College with an
Associate of Arts degree in 1933. Soon after, she met
Iowa native Clayton Boggess through a friend of a
friend when he was out visiting southern California.
The couple was married in 1934. They resided in the
Hawkeye State for two years before coming back to
the Inland Valley, where Mrs. Boggess would live for
the rest of her life.
She and her husband lived in a few different places
in Pomona before settling in 1946 at their final home,
located on nearly an acre in north Claremont. The land
was in a lemon grove so the yard was packed with
lemon trees, but she longed for a garden she could
make her own. Mr. Boggess knew a thing or two
about trees, having co-founded B & R Tree Service a
few years earlier. He landscaped the yard for his wife,
allowing her to plant a variety of fruit trees. Margaret
also created an expansive garden, featuring masses of
roses and tulips, as well as a sizeable vegetable patch.
“She loved to see gardens and gardeners the world
over and would marvel at the similarities and differ-
ences and just revel in the sheer beauty of nature,” her
granddaughter Margaret O’Neill shared. “When talk-
ing about the differences in gardening styles, she
would always remark, “That’s why they make choco-
late and vanilla ice cream. Everybody likes something
Having lived through the Depression, Mrs. Boggess
let nothing go to waste. She canned tomatoes, made
her own applesauce and was famous for her jams and
jellies, featuring homegrown ingredients like apricots,
pomegranates and blackberries.
“Anything that grew on the property got canned, so
to speak,” her grandson Steven Felschundneff said.
“And anyone who ventured on the property at the
right time of year left with a jar of jam and maybe a jar
Mr. Felschundneff fondly recalls her bread and but-
ter pickles as well as her “wicked stuffing” and baked
“She would bake bread every week,” he said. “That
warm bread with butter was the best thing in the
Mrs. Boggess had an uncanny way of remembering
the favorite pies of her friends and relatives. On their
birthdays, Mr. Felschundneff and his sister Theresa
knew they could count on their grandmother preparing
a fresh-from-scratch pie, coconut cream and cherry,
Mrs. Boggess, who insisted “handwork is a
woman’s sanity,” also spent a great deal of time knit-
ting and sewing. She made handmade clothes for her
children and grandchildren and continued to knit pro-
lifically into her late 90s. Over the years, she turned
out dozens of knitted washcloths to sell at the Pilgrim
Place Festival and countless beanies to help warm the
premature babies at a local hospital.
While she enjoyed many traditionally feminine pur-
suits, Mrs. Boggess had a bit of snap to her.
“She was a very poised woman but, as she used to
say, she loved a beer straight from the can now and
then,” Ms. O’Neill shared. “And she was a stubborn
woman. Grandma was a sweetheart, but she always
stood up for what was right.”
With her quick wit, striking blue eyes, beautiful
smile and vivacious personality, Mrs. Boggess left a
lasting impression on everyone who met her.
Mrs. Boggess’ zest for life was especially remark-
able because she endured so many losses over the
years. The first of the Boggesses’ children, David, died
as an infant. They had a son, Johnny and a daughter,
Janice, who passed away in their teens in the 1950s.
Mrs. Boggess was widowed in 1965 and eventually
outlived her daughters Joan and Jane, as well as her
teenaged granddaughter Gretchen.
“She just soldiered on. That was part of her charac-
ter,” Ms. O’Neill said.
Joan, a longtime Claremont resident, was a well-
loved and respected science teacher whose service at
Claremont schools earned her a Teacher of the Year
award. Jane spent many years traveling and had a dis-
tinguished career in the family planning field. Both
were known for having inherited their mother’s fierce
“They were called ‘The Damn Boggess Women,’
and it wasn’t always meant as a compliment,” Ms.
O’Neill laughed. “But they always took it as a compli-
ment. They were a force to be reckoned with—movers
and shakers in their own way.”
Mrs. Boggess also passed on her love of all things
culinary, and enjoyed nothing so much as cooking
with her daughters. Joan died in 1999 and Jane died in
B & R Tree Service came to thrive, servicing many
of the street trees in Claremont as well as doing much
of the tree work for the Claremont Colleges. They also
worked to help clear the trees for the Mt. Baldy ski
lift. Mrs. Boggess served on the city of Claremont’s
tree committee for many years, putting her arboreal
expertise to good use.
After Clayton died in 1965, the homemaker turned
businesswoman. Margaret ran the tree service until
she retired in 1979. Her leadership in a male-domi-
nated field was an unusual feat for the time.
She spent her retirement traveling, gardening, bak-
ing, cooking, knitting and sewing. She continued can-
ning the many fruits that she grew in her groves and
made homemade jam and pies until the last few years
of her life. Mrs. Boggess, who had a recurring dream
of flying with the birds, was also an amateur bird-
watcher. She loved hearing the mourning doves and
always waited eagerly for the mockingbirds to begin
calling in the spring.
“She was a woman of the earth,” Ms. O’Neill said.
She was a dedicated grandmother, always interested
in the lives of the young people around her.
“She lit up when talking about her grandchildren
and great-grandchildren and their many activities and
accomplishments,” Ms. O’Neill said.
Mrs. Boggess’ home provided an idyllic refuge for
her grand- and great-grandchildren. It was a small
farm, surrounded by citrus groves, and home to rab-
bits, goats, chickens and peafowl. She also found
room to house various relatives’ horses and ponies.
There was space to wander and a blackberry vine beg-
ging to be harvested.
Mrs. Boggess was a woman of many interests, her
grandchildren shared. She was very involved in all of
the doings of the Claremont United Church of Christ,
serving on the flower committee among other groups
and volunteering for Meals on Wheels. In her younger
years, she was a Girl Scout troop leader. She enjoyed
listening to classical music, pored through the newspa-
per every day and tuned into informative TV programs
like the “MacNeil News Hour” and Huell Howser’s
“California Gold!” She was especially interested in
news about agriculture and farmers the world over.
In 1987, Mrs. Boggess became seriously ill. Mr.
Felschundneff remembers his mom connecting with
the entire family via telephone, telling them to prepare
for the worst.
“She said, ‘Grandma’s in the hospital and she’s not
going to make it,’” Mr. Felschundneff remembered.
“As it turned out, she outlived all the people making
In her last days, Mrs. Boggess, who celebrated her
100th birthday at the Los Angeles County Fair, de-
rived great pleasure from being around her grandchil-
dren, great-grandchildren and many friends. She was a
constant inspiration, according to family.
“I was always amazed at the number of people that
would call or drop by her home of 68 years and tell
about times when Margaret helped them when they
were in need, either with a meal on the table, a listen-
ing ear or advice that was genuine and from the heart,”
Ms. O’Neill said. “She is a woman who made an im-
pression on so many lives—a mother and mentor to
many in her own family and beyond. She will be
Mrs. Boggess is survived by three grandchildren,
Theresa Darrass and her husband David, Margaret
O’Neill and Steven Felschundneff and his wife Grace
as well as by his nephew and his wife, Richard and
Barbara Miller. She also leaves four great-grandchil-
dren: Niko, Hannah, Josh and Jasmine.
A memorial service for Mrs. Boggess will be held
on Saturday, May 24 at 2 p.m. at the Kingman Chapel
of the Claremont United Church of Christ, located at
233 Harrison Ave. in Claremont. A reception will fol-
low at the house of her grandson Steven. All are wel-
come to attend.
Loving matriarch and friend, passionate gardener
Claremont COURIER/Friday, May 16, 2014 13
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