Edward Patrick Boland was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1911. He was the child of Irish immigrants and grew up in Springfield’s Hungry Hill neighborhood. Hungry Hill was primarily Irish working class, and had a strong sense of community, seemingly with a sandlot baseball team on every corner. When Boland ran for the Massachusetts State House at the age of 23, some of his campaign workers were players from his own baseball team. He graduated from Central High School in Springfield and the Bay State Institute and attended Boston College Law School. While acting as the Register of Deeds in Hampton County, Massachusetts, he joined the United States Army in 1942 and served in the Pacific theater until 1946, rising from the rank of private to captain. He was first elected as a Democrat to the House of Representatives in 1953.
When Boland was elected to the United States House of Representatives, he worked alongside his friend from the Massachusetts State House, Tip O’Neill, and shared an apartment in Washington D.C. with him for 24 years. Known as the “odd couple,” Boland was the trim, tidy, reserved Felix Unger to Tip’s disheveled, gregarious Oscar Madison. Over his years in Congress, Boland had a reputation for being a moderate Democrat and approached his job in a serious bipartisan way. Highly respected by both Democrats and Republicans, he served as the House Appropriations Committee Chairman for many years. Retaining control of the Congressional purse strings for so long is a testament to that bipartisan spirit.
Eddie was a confirmed bachelor until he met Mary Katherine Egan, President of the Springfield City Council and graduate of Boston College Law School, in his 60s and married her in 1973. Mary worked as a lawyer for Egan, Flanagan & Egan in Springfield. The Bolands had four children: Martha, Edward Jr., Kathleen, and Michael.