Mary Louise Boniface, Horse Breeder

August 12, 2009|By Jacques Kelly

Mary Louise Boniface, the matriarch of a Maryland family whose horse-breeding successes included a winner of the Preakness Stakes, died Sunday at the Glen Meadows Retirement Community in Glen Arm. She suffered a fall late last year and never recovered. She was 91.

Born Mary Louise Anderson in Bel Air and raised on its Main Street, she attended St. Margaret's Parochial School and was a 1936 Bel Air High School graduate. She took courses at the Eaton-Burnett Business School and became a medical secretary.

She married William Boniface, racing editor of The Evening Sun. In 1963 they established Bonita Farm, the Harford County horse-breeding operation now owned by her son, three grandsons, two great-grandsons and their wives.

Mrs. Boniface ran the farm's tack shop and was its hostess and farm guide for many years.

"She was the gracious first lady of Maryland horse breeding," said Christopher C. Hartman, a former press secretary to Mayor William Donald Schaefer. "She was a warm and giving woman."

When Bonita Farm's Deputed Testamony won the 1983 Preakness, Mrs. Boniface took possession of a Woodlawn Vase, the racing trophy awarded in the race.

She was a recovering member of Alcoholics Anonymous for more than 30 years. Family members said she helped many other persons become sober by taking them to meetings and counseling them.

"Gin rummy was her game, and she ran an infamous tournament," said her daughter, Ann Marie Bengel of Towson. "She was a great cook and made sure you had a cake or pie for all special occasions. Eggnog and Sunday brunches were her specialty."

Mrs. Boniface drove until she was 89. She favored Volkswagen Beetles and owned five of them.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 533 East Jarrettsville Road in Hickory, where she was a lifelong member.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, J. William Boniface of Darlington; a sister, Katherine "DeDe" Anderson of Bel Air; seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Her husband of 66 years died in 2005.


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