Edward Van Wagner Boylan, 67, owned city flower shops

November 08, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Edward Van Wagner Boylan, an award-winning Hampden florist known for his generosity, died Monday of cancer at his home in New Freedom, Pa. He was 67.

A former Glencoe resident, Mr. Boylan owned and operated flower shops with his wife in Hampden and Charles Village for more than 30 years until he retired in 1995.

After working as a salesman in the wholesale florist business, Mr. Boylan opened his first shop in Cross Keys in a converted a-rab's cart during the 1960s.

He sold the business and opened Village Flower Mart in 1970 at Chestnut Avenue and 36th Street in Hampden. He expanded the business to include a shop at Charles and 25th Street, which has closed.

Several years ago, he purchased Bob Graham Flower Mart, which dates to 1882 and is the oldest florist shop in the city.

"It was a family-oriented shop, and if you lived in Hampden, you got your flowers there. His specialty was serving the people of Hampden," said Dick Andrews, a retired florist.

"He was very generous, and there wasn't a church, ladies' aide society, raffle or fraternal group in Hampden that he didn't help out. He donated flowers to plant sales, bingo games and church suppers. That was just his nature," Mr. Andrews said.

Mr. Boylan's shop was known for its aromatic atmosphere of fresh cut flowers and colorful holiday windows, which became a Hampden tradition.

During the high school prom season, scores of Poly-Western, City College or Loyola High School students flooded the store seeking flowers for their dates.

Jim Peabody, retired owner of Flowers By Michael, said, "He had a big heart and was the kind of man who could be comfortable with princes or paupers but was actually more comfortable with paupers."

Known as Van, Mr. Boylan was an imaginative floral designer who won numerous Florist Telegraph Delivery awards. He also had a reputation as practical "floral" jokester.

He once filled the bowl of a toilet with a flower arrangement and then carefully placed it in the front yard of a plumber friend.

An early Hampden booster, he was active for many years in the Hampden Merchants Association.

According to friends and relatives, Mr. Boylan was the quintessential Irishman who loved St. Patrick's Day, Irish music and whose signature color was green.

Wearing his favorite green jacket and shamrock tie, Mr. Boylan was buried in a green casket after services yesterday in New Freedom.

The Baltimore native was raised on Lennox Street. He attended Forest Park High School until he left school to help support his family after the death of his father.

During the Korean War, he served with Air Force Intelligence in Japan as a cartographer.

He is survived by his wife, the former Hazel Phillips; a stepson, Terry Hammond of Richmond, Va.; two stepdaughters, Cheryl Zetlmeisl of Hereford and Linda Harp of Arbutus; five step-grandchildren; and a step-great-granddaughter.

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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