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Grace Choi Boyer

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Grace Choi Boyer Obituary
Grace Choi Boyer
1930 - 2018
Grace Choi Boyer died at age 87 on Sunday, September 2, 2018, from complications due to a deteriorating spine. She had resided in a care facility, intended as a temporary measure, since late May. She was born near Seoul, Korea. Her father, Suk-Joo Choi, was a Presbyterian minister, and her mother, Salome Lee, the daughter of Korea's first native-born Methodist bishop.
Grace was slight of stature but large in talent, intelligence, and appreciation of life -- hers and other people's. She was positive, even daring, in confronting challenges. For example, trapped in the newly formed North Korea while visiting her grandparents, she was fired upon by occupying Russian river guards while escaping south in a small boat at night, disguised as a boy. Still, she remembered warmly how well the Russian soldiers sang as they marched past her grandparents' house in the weeks before she fled.
That hopeful brave spirit continued to support her after her mother's untimely death, and when she left war-damaged Korea in 1954. She traveled to Lewis and Clark College in Portland, where she earned her BA in English (her third language). She met her future husband, fellow English major Dale Boyer, in 1957 during her first year of graduate school at the University of Oregon. They married on March 20, 1959, in Fort Hood, Texas, where he was training after being drafted following completion of his BA degree.
More daring travel: Grace sailed to join Dale at this duty station in Ulm, Germany. Their first home was an attic room provided by a German family. Grace loved using her high school German to shop, and the shopkeepers loved her efforts in return.
The young couple returned to the US to live on the Eastern Oregon ranch of Dale's family for a year. A Korean city girl, she amused her in-laws with her takes on ranch life. She also revealed to them the good tastes of Korean cooking, happily taking over the ranchhouse kitchen while her mother-in-law taught school. The young couple's first child, daughter Gina, was born in Baker City. Their second, Julie, was born in Eugene, where Dale earned an MA degree. Their son, Ken, was born in Columbia, Missouri, where Dale taught English and earned a PhD at MU.
The family's major moves stopped when Dale accepted a teaching position in the English department of Boise College (now BSU). The family home has been the same for forty-nine years. Grace's international travels, always a source of great interest for her, now included a few short trips to Korea. She also traveled to both coasts of the US to visit friends, family, and art museums. She enjoyed a fiftieth wedding anniversary small ship cruise of the Alaskan Inside Passage. Whitewater rafting trips on the Salmon and Owyhee rivers were taken while she was in her late seventies.
Grace brought to her chosen roles of wife and mother her own versions of the cultural expectations of both Korea and America. Her family appreciated her wider views of how to go about daily life, listening to J. S. Bach, then going to the backyard to gather wild greens to steam and season. The sandwiches she made for her husband's lunch every work day for forty years -- tuna, cheese, or roast beef -- always had some subtle touch of seasonings. The same subtle variations were in her Korean dishes, also. She was an extraordinary cook. Whatever the recipe, she used sight and feel to measure, not a measuring cup or spoon. Her food was rich rather than strong in flavor.
Her care for her family did not restrict other facets of her life. She sang second alto in the choir at St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral for forty-three years. She earned her teaching certificate at BSU, and substitute taught a variety of courses at local junior and senior high schools. She taught GED and ESL courses for adults. Her greatest satisfaction in teaching came from Chinese brush writing, which she taught in a class or individual setting. She had discovered in college that she was a talented oil and watercolor painter, but she had been brush writing since grade school in Tokyo (where her father had led a church for Korean students). Her oils and watercolors reflect the fluidity and refinement of brush writing, enriched by the theoretical analyses of her university training. Her skills, originally developed in literary criticism, allowed a smooth shift to equally thoughtful art.
Yoga, which Grace practiced for decades, provided another context for the enrichment of her life and physical health. For many years she was an unmistakable presence at the Downtown YMCA. She dealt with varying levels of physical pain at intervals throughout her life, due mostly to her spine. She did not allow these problems to affect her personality, even when she had to use a walker and then a wheelchair. She remained the same witty, affectionate person, taking delight in those around her -- "swimming in Grace", as her given name Young-Eun translates from the Korean. She is survived by her husband of fifty-nine years; her three children and their spouses; three grandchildren, Sophia and Emily Boyer and Oscar Glasgow; and four siblings. Her parents and a younger brother preceded her in death.
A memorial Eucharist will be held at St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral in Boise, at 1 pm on Sunday, October 14, followed by a reception at the Cathedral's Bishop Tuttle House.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Boise Chamber Music Series Endowed Fund, Boise State Foundation; 1173 University Drive, Boise, ID 83706.
Published in Idaho Statesman on Sept. 16, 2018
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