Henry Charles Boren

October 27, 2013 

Henry C. Boren, UNC Professor of History Emeritus, died in Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, North Carolina, on October 17, 2013, at age 92. He was a professor of ancient history at the University of North Carolina from 1960 to 1991 and served as Secretary of the Faculty for 15 years. He was predeceased by his wife, Martha, who died in 2005, and all six of his siblings. He is survived by his daughter, Gail Peterson, and husband, Steven Peterson, of Fearrington Village; his grandson, Andrew C. Peterson, and wife, Dr. Kristen Pierce, of North Ferrisburgh, Vermont; and two great-grandsons, Liam and Miles Peterson.

Henry was born near Pearl in Pike County, Illinois, to Homer Thomas Boren and Verna Opal (Renoud) Boren. In 1923, his family moved to Nebo, and Henry graduated from Nebo High School in 1938. In early 1939, Henry went to St. Louis to attend a Bible study and met his future wife, Martha Eleanor Malone, a native of Stoddard County, Missouri. He worked for the Brown Shoe Company and spent time preaching and assisting several Church of Christ congregations in Missouri and Illinois. In 1941, he took a job in Springfield, Illinois, as a reporter for the Illinois State Journal.

Henry joined the Army in July 1942 and went to Camp Swift, Texas, for training. Henry and Martha were married in Austin on September 19, 1942. Henry was selected for training at the Cavalry School in Fort Riley, Kansas, and then went to Camp Gordon in Georgia, where his responsibilities included being in charge of mortar training, the firing range, and the library. He was promoted to first lieutenant and named adjutant to Lt. Col. Marshall Wallach, commander of the Third Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron.

In August 1944, Lt. Boren was given command of C Troop’s 2nd platoon. After many risky and productive missions across northern France, his platoon was selected to be among the first of General Patton’s Third Army troops to enter Germany. On November 17, 1944, he led his platoon across the border near Luxembourg, discovered a German intelligence post, and was seriously wounded. He returned to the United States in early 1945 and was sent to O’Reilly General Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, where he was reunited with Martha and saw his 3-month-old daughter for the first time. Lt. Boren was promoted to Captain before leaving the Army in early 1946 and was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart.

After the war, Henry received his bachelor’s degree from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State) in 1949 and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois in 1952. Over the next 8 years, he taught at Southwest Missouri State, the University of Nebraska, and Southern Illinois University.

In 1960, Dr. Boren joined the history faculty at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he taught ancient history for 31 years. He was known for his wry wit and for never ignoring his students’ spelling or grammar errors. Dr. Boren also served the university as Secretary of the Faculty (1969–84) and wrote a brief history of faculty government at UNC. He authored several books including The Roman Republic (1965), The Gracchi (1968), The Ancient World (1976), and Roman Society (1977), and published numerous articles and reviews. He participated in the UNC-Hebrew University Archaeological Expedition to Tell Arad, Israel, in 1967 and was a Resident at the American Academy in Rome (1967–68).

Henry and Martha were faithful Christians and were among the founding members of the Chapel Hill Church of Christ. Later, they became members of the Cole Mill Road Church of Christ in Durham, NC. They were known for their kindness, hospitality, and generosity to others. They loved their family, and like Martha, Henry especially loved being around children.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, 2013, at Cole Mill Road Church of Christ, in Durham, NC. At a later date, his ashes will be interred in Greenpond Cemetery in Pearl, IL. Suggested memorials include: Cole Mill Road Church of Christ, 1617 Cole Mill Road, Durham, NC 27705; the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of History (history.unc.edu) or UNC Friends of the Library (library.unc.edu/fol); or your local chapter of Habitat for Humanity or local food pantry. Online condolences may be made at www.cremnc.com

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