By Greg Ellison
(Aug. 27, 2020) After a lifetime immersed in community activities, culminating with two terms on the Ocean Pines Board followed by three terms as Worcester County Commissioner, Judy Boggs, 80, was named Woman of the Year last week by her former elected body.
Boggs said she invested years in improving quality of life issues in Ocean Pines and Worcester County after retiring to the Eastern Shore in 1992. Prior to that she blazed a trail in a number of traditionally male-dominated venues starting in the Baltimore-suburb of Dundalk.
Despite having an idyllic family life with husband Bill Boggs and three children in the mid-1960s, she pursued a journalism career after earning a position with area newspaper the Dundalk Eagle.
Never shy to ask for what she wanted, Boggs simply showed up and informed the publisher she wanted to be a reporter.
“He asked me to complete some transcription tests and wanted to know if I could type,” she said. “I told him I wasn’t applying to be a secretary.”
Boggs turned to exit before the publisher asked her to wait.
“He told me I could cover the Fourth of July parade in Dundalk as a test run,” she said.
Seizing the opportunity, Boggs returned with solid coverage of the annual Dundalk Heritage Fair and launched a five-year run at the publication.
Unlike typical rookie reporters, Boggs balked at tradition and demanded to cover a beat she selected, while also insisting on developing offbeat coverage.
“I did a series on the history of local churches,” she said. “After the first piece, they were all calling asking to be the next church covered.”
In short order, Boggs became a popular reporter because of her non-traditional topics, and in time became a long running columnist.
She ended her tenure in the news field after opting to engage in local political campaigns.
“I asked for time off,” she said.
Boggs said when her editor learned of her intentions, a return was deemed infeasible.
Dismayed but not dissuaded, Boggs continued to open doors largely closed to women.
After leading a community focus group concerning the construction of a hospital in Dundalk, Boggs earned sufficient respect among her peers to land a job as an administrator for Church Home and Hospital Health Centers in Baltimore.
Before retiring from the health care industry in 1992, Boggs was named Baltimore County Woman of the Year in 1987.
“My husband and I retired early and moved to Ocean Pines,” she said.
Although stepping away from paid work, Boggs filled her time volunteering and was eventually elected to serve two terms on the OPA Board.
After serving as OPA president in 2001, her last year on the board, Boggs ran a successful campaign to become the first Worcester County Commissioner to represent the newly created District 5 in Ocean Pines.
Because of the population boom in the northern county, what had been a five-member board of commissioners was expanded to seven seats
Before her election as county commissioner, a position she held until 2014, Boggs encountered a less-than-ideal interaction with that body when she presented a proposal to establish the Worcester County Commission for Women in 1998.
“I got in front of the commissioners and the jokes started flying,” she said. “Hey, what about a men’s commission?”
Boggs ignored the commentary, pushed the proposal and led the campaign to establish the women’s commission. She served as the groups’ first president.
Earlier this year, the Worcester County Commission for Women selected Boggs to receive Woman of the Year honors. The group’s 25th annual luncheon on March 25 was postponed after the covid-19 outbreak.
The award came just after Boggs lost her husband, Bill, who died on Feb. 20 at 86 years of age.
Boggs noted the void left after her mate of 60 years departed.
“He was a wonderful and supportive man,” she said.
Boggs said the recent accolade from the county commissioners was especially poignant in light of the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement on Aug. 26, which first opened the curtains at polling booths and later seats of power for females across the nation.
Boggs, who was born in Baltimore in 1940, is relieved to have witnessed the dawn of a new era for women during her lifetime.
Regardless of societal advances, Boggs said her philosophy remains unchanged.
“People respect the qualities of honesty, trustworthiness, morality and integrity,” she said.