Henrietta Boggs, former First Lady, receives honorary doctorate

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The so-called First Lady of the Revolution, Henrietta Boggs-MacGuire, received an honorary doctorate from Birmingham-Southern College, a small liberal arts school in the U.S. state of Alabama.

Ms. Boggs-MacGuire received an honorary doctor of humanities to acknowledge her lifelong promotion of social change and equality, according to a statement from the college announcing the honorary degrees.

“When the 22-year-old Boggs-MacGuire–then a junior at Birmingham-Southern–decided to visit her aunt and uncle in Costa Rica, she had no idea she would end up influencing the fate of that nation,” the announcement reads.

“On that visit, she met and fell in love with Jose Figueres, a coffee farmer who would go on to lead the democratic revolution against the corrupt power structure.”

Ms. Boggs-MacGuire married Figueres, commonly known as Don Pepe in Costa Rica, on Oct. 18, 1941, and spent two years with him in exile in México and El Salvador. Many expats know the story that comes next: how a disputed election in 1948 led to the Costa Rican Civil War, which found Figueres leading the victorious rebel army and establishing a temporary junta.

That, of course, led to the creation of the modern Costa Rican state and the establishing of a new constitution and abolishing of the military that allowed Figueres to become president three times in the country’s history.

“As president, Figueres directed the creation of a new constitution and enacted numerous popular reforms–many of them stemming from the perspective his wife brought with her from the U.S.” the statement continues. “In her 18 months as first lady of Costa Rica, she pushed her husband for important changes, especially giving women the right to vote.”

Ms. Boggs-MacGuire subsequently divorced Figueres in 1952 and returned home to the U.S. The 99-year old currently lives in Montgomery, Alabama.

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