Friends, family mark the big 1-0-0

Retired nurse Flora Boggs celebrates her 100th birthday

By: Marjorie Censer
   After relatives and friends of longtime Princeton resident Flora Boggs sang "Happy Birthday" to her at a surprise party held Wednesday at Merwick Rehab Hospital & Nursing Care to celebrate Ms. Boggs’s 100th birthday, they struck up a chorus of "How Old Are You Now?"
   "You tell me," Ms. Boggs jokingly retorted to the crowd.
   She opened presents and enjoyed a cake featuring her photo at the festivities.
   Ms. Boggs worked for more than 40 years as an operating room nurse at the University Medical Center at Princeton — known as Princeton Hospital at the time — and has been a member of Mt. Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church on Witherspoon Street for 65 years. She raised her two sons on Leigh Avenue and later lived at Spruce Circle.
   Her sons, Edwin Boggs of Baltimore and Costomia Boggs of Claymont, Del., and her granddaughter, Felicia Johnson of Baltimore, were on hand to celebrate Wednesday.
   Edwin Boggs remembered the Princeton in which he grew up as a "quiet little town where everybody knew everybody."
   Esther Waters Johnson, Ms. Boggs’ cousin, said she remembered weekly trips to Atlantic City. During the summer, members of the family would caravan to Atlantic City every Sunday.
   Felicia Johnson said she visited her grandmother for a week or two virtually every summer when she was growing up. They would visit the senior center, shop for groceries and go to church, Ms. Johnson said.
   Seeing her grandmother celebrate her 100th birthday, Ms. Johnson said, "is unexplainable."
   Ms. Boggs herself said she was at a loss for words.
   "I’m just so overjoyed, I just can’t find words to express it," she said.
   Ms. Boggs moved to Merwick in September 2004, said the Rev. Vernard Leak, pastor at Mt. Pisgah, but she has remained in touch with him and attends religious services at Merwick.
   The Rev. Leak, who has been pastor at Mt. Pisgah since 1992, said he and Ms. Boggs regularly celebrated her birthday by going out to local restaurants.
   "We visited every restaurant in Princeton," he joked.
   Before she moved to Merwick, Ms. Boggs came to the church every day for a senior nutritional program at lunch and was active in several of the church’s auxiliaries. When the Rev. Leak visits her at Merwick now, they read scripture, sing and catch up.
   Ms. Boggs thanked attendees for coming Wednesday.
   "This is just such a wonderful joy," she said.
   "You deserve it, Flora," said Betty Davison, neighbor to Ms. Boggs when they lived at Spruce Circle and a friend for more than 20 years.