Long-time Elmhurst resident and local “icon” Samuel Boor passed away this Spring after a short illness. He was 97 years young! An avid walker until his early 90’s, Sam, or Mr. Boor as he was mainly referred to, moved to Elmhurst in 1955 after accepting a position teaching Pre-Engineering at Newtown High School in Elmhurst. He remained at Newtown until 1988, when he took family leave, in order to take care of his beloved, dying wife. He loved the teaching profession, and would often state, “There’s nothing like teaching,” his daughter Wendy recalls.
“My father came from a humble background; he grew up on a farm in upstate New York during the Depression, a son of immigrants who valued education,” Wendy said. He grew up dirt poor, and his mother, by that time, a single mother, had her two sons work on an upstate farm so they could eat while she cleaned houses in NYC.”
He knew what poverty tasted like, and those memories stayed with him until his last days. The lessons learned in his youth shaped his life’s philosophy; mainly that it is not only how much money you earn, but how much you spend. His first language was Slovakian, a fact his daughter didn’t know until a classmate in high school addressed him in his native tongue as a joke! Like many in his time, Boor used the GI Bill to access education after his stint in the navy during WW2. He attended NYU and received both Masters Degrees from the City College of New York.
Mr. Boor was a proud, civic-minded, highly opinionated, disciplined man who participated in his building’s condo board; a building just completed which he moved into soon after arriving in Elmhurst, and helped neighbors if he could.
“He was a very tough independent person, took care of himself, and worked very hard as president of the board of our building. He never hid his opinion if he saw or felt something was wrong about the neighborhood, building, or people. He believed in fighting for your rights,” said Mary Lee, a neighbor for over three decades.
Mr. Boor loved making pizza every Saturday for his daughter and grandchildren, Alexandra and Sebastian, whom he helped raise. He was often seen taking long strides towards LaGuardia Airport, a walk he took daily, while bellowing “Hello!” to those he recognized, a voice which echoed among the cavernous buildings.
Sometimes, he’d chat freely with former students or area acquaintances, and vent about the ills of society, share tidbits of World History, or in what ways American governmental policies have veered off course. Mr. Boor also took up ballroom dancing after he retired, and in his later years, could be found reading the daily newspapers in the local library, always clad in his camouflage cap with ever present American flag pin.
A few former students voiced their feelings with regard to his passing: “I was in the Pre-Engineering program and had Mr. Boor for Mechanical Drawing, and may have taken another class as well. I distinctly recall him saying that when we finish a project, it should be as smooth as a baby’s behind, and that makes sense if it were in Machine Shop. He had a distinctive voice and style, and I enjoyed having him for a teacher.” (Jeffrey P. Morris, Grad Class 72’).
“I had him for Mechanical Drawing. He was tough, but fair and approachable. I still remember his pipe smell. Newtown was a great place to go to school. R.I.P. Mr. Boor.” (Eric K. Hoffman, Grad Class 79’).
“I had two classes of mechanical drafting with Mr. Boor. He was quite precise, and very methodical in the way he’d teach you with the process and approach. He was quite fun in his class, and won’t ever forget his belt with its enormous amount of keys. He taught discipline and tenacity in approaching and making mechanical blueprints. Nobody can forget Mr. Boor.” (Arnold Gallardo, Grad Class 86’).
With Mr. Boor’s loss, those of the Greatest Generation in the community have dwindled down to almost none. He was one of a kind. There was never a dull moment in his presence.