Detective Robert Boden, 54, who served Riverhead Town for almost 32 years, died on Monday after suffering a pulmonary embolism and heart attack on Friday, his brother-in-law Lt. David Lessard said.
Hearts were heavy as members of the department paid tribute to a man who’d dedicated his life to serving others.
Boden, Lessard said, came from a long line of law enforcement; his father was a detective with the RHPD and his brother Rick Boden is currently a lieutenant. “It’s a police family, there’s no doubt about that,” Lessard said.
Lessard said over the course of over three decades, Boden covered a number of big cases.
“Bob knew everyone in the Town of Riverhead, and everyone knew him. He was a valuable asset to the police department and will be greatly missed,” Lessard said. “He had a wealth of knowledge.”
The halls, Lessard said, echoed with Boden’s laughter. “He had a great sense of humor. Bob was definitely the department comedian.”
Mary Andruszkiewicz, senior administrative assistant to the police chief, said he was known for his laughter. "Every so often he'd say, 'Now don't tell the chief, Mary,'" she laughed. "He had a distinct laugh."
Boden’s own father died young, as well, at only 55, Lessard said. “This is tragedy, relived,” he said.
But one positive during the dark days is that the family is drawn together in their love for Boden, Lessard said. “This family can’t be any closer than they are,” he said. “It’s a blessing.”
Boden, a McGann-Mercy graduate, was a big supporter of the school, attending games and events.
An athlete, Lessard said Boden enjoyed softball, golf, basketball, tennis, and going to Riverhead Raceway. “He did it all,” he said. “He was one of the greatest athletes you’ve ever come across.”
Boden also found himself drawn to the beach, Lessard said. “But the biggest thing he loved was his family.”
Boden leaves behind his wife Denise and their four children, Eric, Melissa, Amy and Brian.
And his loss is felt keenly by a strong brotherhood of police officers who are left bereft by his loss.
“Det. Boden and I were both hired on the same day, Nov. 16, 1981, and attended the Suffolk County Police Academy together,” Det. Sgt. Joseph Loggia said. “Det. Boden and I were assigned to the same patrol squad upon graduation from the academy. We were both promoted to the rank of detective in June of 1990. We worked together our whole careers and it is truly sad to see him pass. He was a great family man and he loved his job. He had a really good sense of humor and could always lighten the mood with it. I will truly miss Bob. The Riverhead Police Department has lost a good man.”
Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller agreed. “Bobby was a great guy,” he said. “He was an asset to the police department. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. He was just such a presence, and always good for a laugh. He’s going to be terribly missed.”
Hegermiller and Boden were also both hired in 1981, attending the police academy together. Back when he was a detective sergeant, Hegermiller said Boden was a detective, and they were assigned to solve a case involving a string of burglaries.
“There were a lot of stakeouts,” he said. "Whenever anyone needed help, he said, “Bobby was right there to pitch in. This is very sad.”
Flags flew at half mast in Riverhead Tuesday; police headquarters were draped in bunting.
Boden was getting ready to go to work Friday when he first felt ill, Lessard said. A blood clot traveled to his lung from his leg and Boden then suffered a heart attack; but although he was revived, the loss of oxygen had been too great, Lessard said.
Lessard said Boden’s family wished to thank the staff of Peconic Bay Medical Center, Stony Brook Hospital, Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and everyone who tried valiantly to save his life.
Despite the cloak of sadness, Lessard said Boden’s family found comfort in memories. “If you had a gathering, Bob would be the one in the middle of 20 people, who wanted to hear his stories. He told the best, most interesting stories. This is a tragedy for the family,” he said. “We love him."
Services will be held for Det. Boden on Wednesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Reginald W. Tuthill Funeral Home on East Main Street. A funeral mass will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at St. John’s Catholic Church in Riverhead, with interment immediately to follow at St. John’s Cemetery.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Boden Memorial Fund at McGann-Mercy; for information, call 631-727-5900.
Throughout the dark hours, the outpouring of love from the community has helped to comfort, Lessard said. “It makes us proud to be Riverhead residents,” he said. “This is a tight-knit community and everyone really comes together in a crisis.”