Bokim Youm, née Lee, of Eugene, Ore., died of liver failure at age 62 in Springfield, Ore., on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.
Bokim was a junior in college in South Korea in 1978, when she took a calculated risk on her classmate Kyu Ho Youm as a campus sweetheart. Kyu Ho, a poor, first-generation college student, had big dreams of going to the United States, the land of freedom and opportunity, to fulfill his academic ambitions of studying journalism and freedom of the press.
The pair were united in marriage in Seoul in May 1980. Bokim joined Kyu Ho in Carbondale, Ill., six months later during the Thanksgiving week. Her unflagging support enabled Kyu Ho’s fulfilling life in America, first as a grad student from 1980 to 1985 and then as a college professor from 1985 to the present.
Bokim was the pillar of the Youm family: Kyu Ho, husband, of Eugene, Ore.; Harry, the Youms’ older son, of San Francisco, Calif.; and Eugene, the Youms’ younger son, of Portland, Ore. It was Bokim, above all, who made the Youms a loving family throughout the years—this, among other things, so impressed Sherry Chen that she accepted Harry’s proposal in early 2018 with alacrity.
To her husband, who tends to be absent-minded at home, Bokim was a smart, detail-oriented, family-first wife, although she immensely enjoyed working at the Tempe Public Library in Tempe, Ariz., and the University of Oregon Library for more than 20 years. Throughout their married life, Bokim was a constant source of bliss for Kyu Ho. When asked about the happiest moment of his weekdays, Kyu Ho unhesitatingly replied, “My 10-minute drive back home from my office. That someone I love is waiting makes me always look forward to going home after work.”
To her children, as Harry posted on Facebook on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, Bokim was “definitely the best Mom in the world”: a caring, dedicated, and determined mother.
Bokim’s joy in life was to see Harry and Eugene fully living up to her expectations. Beyond academic hopes for her sons, Bokim always wanted Harry and Eugene to grow up with a sense of goals and service. One of her finest achievements was raising Harry and Eugene to be accomplished, wonderful, decent human beings in America.
Bokim’s “gamble” in the late 1970s paid off with a loving husband and devoted children who valued her role as Kyu Ho’s truly exceptional wife and the first-class mother of Harry and Eugene and the mother-in-law of Sherry.
Her family’s everlasting memory of Bokim as someone special is encapsulated by Harry’s Facebook posting: “Eugene, Dad, and I were lucky to have you and will always love you. Sleep well, Umma.” (Umma is the endearing Korean term for Mom.)
Kyu Ho, Harry and Sherry, and Eugene wish to express their special thanks to the committed doctors and nurses and others at the intensive care unit of the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, Ore.
The funeral service in celebration of Bokim’s good life is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, at 10 a.m. at the Korean Central Presbyterian Church, 3360 Game Farm Road, Springfield, OR 97477 (https://centraleugene.church/).