Emily B. Boardman


Emily B. Boardman—a longtime advocate for children, prisoners, Native Americans, and AIDS victims—died peacefully at her daughter’s home in Acton, MA on June 14 after a six-month struggle with brain cancer. She was 76. 

A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 7, at the Seligmann Center in Sugarloaf, NY. 

Emily was a pioneer in Partners in Education (PIE), an educational program in Warwick public grade schools, bringing home and community support to the classroom. She worked as a child advocate, counselor, educator and outreach worker for schools. She supported Quaker worship inside Green Haven Correctional Facility and maintained a correspondence with several people in prison. 

In the late 1990s, when the AIDS epidemic was often a terminal illness, Emily was a founding director of the Stephen Saunders Residence in Newburgh, NY, a home for people with HIV/AIDS. For this work, she received the Ryan White Community Service Award and was honored by the Newburgh branch of the NAACP, among others. 

In her very active retirement, Emily went back to school in New York City. She was ordained by All Faiths Seminary International, where she then served as a dean and student mentor. 

A self-described “story-teller on a sacred journey,” Emily was a valued member of the Cornwall Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) as well as an interfaith minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Middletown, NY. 

As a child growing up in a Quaker household in Acton, Massachusetts, Emily was open-hearted, mischievous, lively and loved. She spent meaningful high school years at the Meeting School in New Hampshire

and, while just 18, volunteered at an orphanage in Denmark. Later, as a Vista volunteer, she drove an ambulance on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from Franconia College and her master’s degree in Anthropology at the New School for Social Research in New York City. 

Emily was a caring mother and grandmother, a compassionate community organizer and an innovative thinker. She was a friend, a guide and a support to many. She achieved her goal of “being of use” every day of her life. For this and her clarity of vision as well as her audacity to care, we who knew her are eternally grateful. 

Emily died the way she lived, with a deep understanding of the process, a humble openness to the unknown, a graceful respect for the natural exits that life provides and surrounded by an unending spiral of love.