Beth Anne Bower Makes History Come to Life in Adams Gallery at Suffolk University Law School

1/28/2002

 She stands proudly in the middle of the Adams Gallery at Suffolk University Law School, home of the John Joseph Moakley archival exhibit. Surrounded by various materials portraying the self-described "bread and butter politician" from South Boston - photos, documents, artifacts and a continuously running video - Beth Anne Bower is precisely where she wants to be.

"This is the perfect place for me," said Bower, who is the guest curator of the Moakley Exhibit, now on display through April 7th at 120 Tremont Street in downtown Boston. "I'm not an academic historian; I'm more of a public historian. I like communicating history to people through records, pictures and assorted memorabilia. My goal is to make each exhibit interesting and informative for people of all ages."

The 50-year-old Stoneham resident paused for a moment to recollect about the late Congressman. This exhibit is particularly special to her because she truly admired Moakley and his legacy of public service.

"He was an incredible human being," said Bower with a twinkle in her eyes. "He will always be one of my role models."

A collection of Moakley quotes are prominently showcased on banners overhead. Pearls of wisdom such as "People form their day-to-day opinions of life through their kitchen window," and "Loyalty is the holiest good in the human heart," bring an immediate smile to Bower's face.

"What I remember most about Joe was how kind, friendly and genuine he was," said Bower. "He really cared about people and made an impact in their lives. I was always impressed with his courage and conviction on those issues he passionately believed in."

Bower's expertise is in the areas of research, public outreach and project management. When Suffolk approached her about being the guest curator for the Moakley Exhibit, she jumped at the offer. "I couldn't wait to get started," she said. "I knew it would be a fun and exciting project."

A photo of Moakley, Tip O'Neill and Jimmy Breslin hangs nearby. Bower admires the three popular figures huddled together sharing a few laughs. "That's my favorite picture," she said.

She describes opening night of the Moakley Exhibit, November 27, 2001, as a huge success. "It was a great turnout and everyone had a good time," said Bower, whose husband, Edward P. Holden, III, is a 1988 graduate of Suffolk University Law School. "Joe's family and friends were very pleased how we captured Joe and his life. Working closely with people at Suffolk really made my job easy. It was definitely a team effort."

Bob Allison, Suffolk University's highly respected history professor and archivist, has been impressed with Bower's work ethic and commitment to detail. "She is the consummate professional," said Allison. "From day one, she focused all of her energy and talent into successfully capturing Joe Moakley for who he was and what he stood for. She deserves a lot of credit for a job well done."

"We were very fortunate to get her," said Betsy McKenzie, Director of the John Joseph Moakley Library at Suffolk University Law School. "She not only helped organize all of the materials in a timely manner, but she was so wonderful to work with. She was terrific in getting everyone involved and keeping everything under control."

Bower has been interested in history and archaeology since her high school days at Germantown Academy in Pennsylvania. Every Thanksgiving, she and her family would travel to Brookline to spend the holiday with her grandmother. She immediately fell in love with the historical charm and splendor the city of Boston has to offer.

"I knew growing up that I wanted to go to college in Boston," said Bower, who received her bachelor of arts degree in history from Simmons College in 1973, and her masters degree in anthropology from Brown University in 1975. "When I was in high school, one of my best friends and I took a train from Philadelphia to Boston. We hung out with my cousin who lived on Charles Street and we got to see a lot of the sights. We even went to a Red Sox game."

When she's not working, Bower enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, playing golf and cuddling up with a good mystery. She is also an active volunteer at the First Congregational Church in Stoneham. "I like to keep busy," she smiled.

Bower walks through the Moakley Exhibit (open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and free to the public) with poise and confidence, completely comfortable in the environment she has helped to create. She is an artist, blessed with an uncanny ability to make history come to life.

"This is what I love to do," said Beth Anne Bower. "I consider myself lucky to be where I am."

For more information, please contact Tony Ferullo at 617-573-8448.

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