Leona Boxer, a retired lunch lady at the former Lincoln Junior High School in Portland known for her devotion to family, friends and the community, died Friday after a period of declining health. She was 91.

She and her late husband, Herman Boxer, were married for 52 years and raised seven children at their home in Portland.

Two of her children said Monday that she gave much of herself to her family. Her son Ned Boxer recalled their early years when she organized neighborhood scavenger hunts and water balloon fights.

“My childhood was unbelievable,” he said, recalling his years in track. “She would bring like 50 to 60 candy bars for the team. … She was the mom of the neighborhood. All the kids would come over.”

Her daughter Doris Boisvert of Portland agreed that she was a mother figure to many in the neighborhood.

“She always made sure there was something fun to do,” Boisvert said. “She tried to make everything enjoyable. She had a very fun-loving personality. She was all about family and community.”

Mrs. Boxer was well-known in the Portland area. She worked in the cafeteria at Lincoln Junior High School for about 20 years. Her son said kids liked going through her line because she would give extra scoops of food and maybe a “witch cackle,” which she was known for.

“She loved being around the kids,” he said. “She loved serving people. That was her whole life … making people feel good.”

Boisvert said her mother went out of her way for others.

“If anyone needed a place to sleep, her door was always open,” her daughter said. “There was always a meal on the table or a pot of tea all ready to brew at any time. With Mom, … the more the merrier.”

Mrs. Boxer was active in the community as a volunteer for organizations such as the March of Dimes and the American Lung Association. She was a member of the Clark Memorial United Methodist Church for 60 years. There, she volunteered as a Sunday school teacher and helped organize church fairs.

“For a mother of seven to be involved in all of those things, … she still made a wonderful family life,” Boisvert said. “She was a very generous and caring woman.”

Mrs. Boxer enjoyed singing, knitting and crocheting. Her children said she made all of them their own Christmas stockings.

In recent months, her health began to decline. Her son said she overcame many health problems and he admired her strength and courage.

“She lost her eyesight due to diabetes and she had such a wonderful outlook on life,” he said, choking up. “She never complained about anything. Her strength was incredible. No matter how she felt, she always said: ‘Great. I couldn’t be better.’”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com