Tom Boggs' Work Honors Linden's History, Hometown Heroes
There’s an old saying that goes “don’t forget where you came from”. Attorney Tom Boggs had plenty of opportunities to leave his hometown far behind as he traveled the world in the military and establish himself as a lawyer and writer.
However, he has chosen to remain in the Black Belt. Boggs never forgets his beloved, small hometown of Linden, Alabama. Now, he is working so that no one else will forget it either.
Born in Selma, Alabama, in 1940, Tom Boggs says his faith propels him to give back to the community. “My world revolves around my faith. It is where my strength comes from,” said the attorney and occasional preacher. He is a member of Faunsdale Presbyterian Church, a few miles from where he grew up.
As Boggs grew up as a child, he often went to the Marengo County Courthouse to watch as his father, Thomas Boggs Sr., argued cases for his clients. He was drawn to the legal field because of those experiences.
“My father was a great orator, and I wanted to be just like him. Decades ago, television was nonexistent. People watched trials like television shows.”
Today, capturing and preserving Linden’s traditions and history is at the heart of Boggs’ work outside of his general law practice.
For 20 years, Tom Boggs has written a weekly column for The Democrat-Reporter and The Demopolis Times. His column, “Days Gone Bye”, is a weekly celebration of life in the Black Belt.
He said, “I never know what I’m going to write until I sit down at the computer and ‘wham!’ it comes to me.”
Boggs was inspired by his weekly column to publish “Magnolia Blossoms and Bad Tasting Water,” a book of recollections from his childhood in the Black Belt during the 1940s-1950s.
His favorite aspect of Linden is the people who call it home, interesting characters who can only be found in a small town. To him, they define Linden.
Some of his favorite memories include playing linebacker and guard for the Linden High School Red Devils football team. In the summers, he would work part-time jobs at the ten-cent store, bush hog fields for the city, or lifeguard at the Linden pool---a job that allowed him to “get dibs on all the pretty girls”.
After school, Boggs began a career in the military that lasted for 37 years. He finished his career as a full colonel in Special Forces. He said, “It was an honor to serve my country.” Boggs meets regularly with six other colonels in the area, and they are planning a special trip to visit where they did their Special Forces training so many years ago.
He helped establish the Veteran’s Memorial in front of the Marengo County Courthouse. At the grand opening, Boggs said, “There was a crowd as big as a 1950s Demopolis vs. Linden football game.”
For the past seven years, Tom Boggs has played an integral part in the development of the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame as chairman for the organization. As we walked through the Hall of Fame in the Demopolis Public Library, he lists facts and shares stories about the various athletes. I was amazed at the athletic talent that came from this area. Some former Auburn student-athletes include former NFL punter David Beverly, MLB pitcher Alan Koch and SEC heavyweight wrestling champion William Rankin.
In addition to his law practice, Boggs owns a cattle farm. He is the longest active member of his local Kiwanis Club and commander of the American Legion Post.
His active involvement in Linden will continue. Boggs said he believes change must start at the grassroots level. Community change is about citizens taking ownership over the place they call home. As Boggs puts it, “Someone has to get the ball rolling.”
Boggs exemplifies civic life at its finest. From founding the Veteran’s Memorial to the creation of Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame, he has helped instill community pride in its hometown heroes and rich history.
Boggs said it best, “Linden is good hometown living.” As long as there are citizens like Tom Boggs working for the community, Linden will always be a great place to call home.