CHARLESTON, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A Vermont filmmaker is peering into a poignant moment in Charleston’s history with his short film this weekend.
Anthony Marques’s “The Love 4 A Stranger” film will premiere this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Terrace Theater. The short film focuses on a tragedy and memorial set up by longtime Holy City resident and former funeral home owner Grippon Boags.
In 1983, Herbert Brown died in a tragic hit-and-run accident on Edisto Island. When a government case worker tried to reach out to a local funeral home to care for the boy’s body when the family couldn’t pay for services, Boags was last on an exhausted list. He lept into action.
“What inspired me about this story was the overall consistency in which this man, Mr. Boags, has shown through the past 40 years of his life when it comes to this child whom he has never met a day in his life on earth alive,” Marques said. “To me, this story goes way deeper than that, though. It’s a story that can bring different lived experiences together to celebrate a day that wouldn’t even exist without tragedy and love.”
Boags, who ran the Harleston-Boags Funeral Home on Calhoun Street, coordinated the effort to prepare the boy’s body for a funeral and burial. He found a coffin, worked to find a burial site, and organized a memorial.
After hearing about the man’s life, Marques said he was inspired to do the project. Boags grew up in Charleston and considered a monastic life at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina in the 1950s. There, he cared for infirm monks, took classes, and worked at the monastery. After a few years, he decided to leave for Brooklyn, N.Y., and learn to paint. While there, he honed his skills in the mortuary arts and decided to return to the Palmetto State to open his own funeral home business.
Over the years, Boags has tried to visit the boy’s gravesite weekly. He’s worked to clean the grave site while adding toys to it.
Marques knows the film touches on a painful subject, the death of a child. The moment is thought-provoking. The filmmaker even got permission to use the former funeral home’s location across from Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church for his movie.
“I think there will be a few different reactions,” Marques said. “The main reaction, at least, I feel will be one of pain. I think there will be a lot of connection and reflection. Let’s face it; death isn’t ever talked about. That’s what makes it so painful. It’s a force of emotion that most people aren’t always prepared for.”
Marques spent much time with the Boags family in making the film.
Before the film, the public can attend a Lost Children Memorial dedication at Morris Brown A.M.E. Church cemetery at Huguenin and Algonquin avenues. The site is directly next to Brown’s grave. The event starts at 6 p.m.