Rev. Titus J. Boggs passed away on August 29, 2011, in Harlan, Kent. He was 61 years old.
Titus served as director of Laurel Mission for 30 years, 1980-2010. He was described as “a big man with a big heart.” Hundreds of United Brethren, on short-term trips to Laurel Mission, fell in love with this man. And they all heard and loved the same stories. Like the one about Chief Running Bear and his daughter Falling Rock, who got lost in the mountains and was never found. That’s why, Titus would conclude deadpan, many signs along the roads said, “Watch for Falling Rock.”
Titus would hold a straight face for several seconds, but then slowly crack a sly grin, and people would know they’d been had.
Titus loved the Lord deeply, and loved the people who lived up and down Greasy Creek.
When Titus was born in 1950, both of his parents, Alvin and Ruth Boggs, worked for Laurel Mission. Alvin grew up there, born just three miles down the road from the current mission house. Ruth, who grew up in the Colwood UB church in Caro, Mich., arrived in 1943 as a missionary teacher. Alvin returned from the Army in 1946, and he and Ruth were married that August.
“Being a preacher’s kid, I was expected to live a certain way,” Titus once said. “I was religious on the outside, but I didn’t have a change of heart until my freshman year of high school. Some wonderful, godly teachers were a great influence on my life.”
Titus and Debbie, an Iowa girl, met at Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute. They married in 1973, and spent the next year at Asbury College, where Titus majored in Bible and social work. After that, Titus worked a year in the Public Assistance Office in Lexington. And then they moved back “home,” serving as dorm parents at Pine Mountain Settlement School, where Titus attended grades 1-9 and where his father worked.
In August 1980, Bishop Raymond Waldfogel came for a visit. Titus had been assistant pastor under mission superintendent M. E. Burkett. Now the Burketts were leaving. Would Titus and Debbie take their place? Titus said no; he and a partner had just started a little coal mine and bought a coal truck. But he kept thinking about it. And when Bishop Waldfogel asked again in December, Titus said, “We’ll give it a try.” They moved into the almost-new parsonage in January 1981.
In October 2010, Titus went on medical leave as director of Laurel Mission–he had suffered from diabetes and other physical problems–but he continued as senior pastor of Little Laurel Bible Church. His son, Nathan, who had been serving as the mission’s youth pastor, became executive director of Laurel Mission on October 8, 2010. Debbie Boggs, wife of Titus, became the new associate director of Laurel Mission.