Remembering Heidi Asako Boley, educator, nature lover

Heidi Boley. Photo: Courtesy family
Heidi Boley. Photo: Courtesy family

Heidi Asako Boley passed away on Nov. 4 2016. She was 69 years old.

Heidi was born to Heiji and Lillian Fukuda in Honolulu, Hawaii. She grew up in Corn Mill Camp, a housing project for Maui Pineapple employees, and joined that workforce in her teens to help support her family. Through scholarships she was able to attend college on the mainland. She began at Coe College, but left in her freshman year when the Iowa winter disagreed with her warm Maui blood. She transferred to Whitman College, where she juggled multiple jobs to support herself through completion of a marine biology degree.

She met Todd Boley, the man she would marry, soon after graduation.

Education had opened doors for Heidi, and, as she and Todd moved between Maui and the California coastline, she shifted away from marine research, towards work which passed on the opportunities she had won for herself. After obtaining teaching credentials for math and science, she taught students in Tamales Bay, Maui and Berkeley school districts. Students were often amazed at her strict demands, but could always count on her for motivation and rewards for gumption and growth.

Heidi was a lover of the outdoors in general and the ocean especially. She had a scientist’s appreciation for flora and fauna, coupled with an islander’s reverence for the natural world. She could casually recite the taxonomy and physiology of the plants in her garden, or give those same plants earnest pep talks as she tended them.

Heidi’s baked goods were an institution, regularly distributed to friends, family and coworkers alike.

As a dragon boat rower, she traveled to races in Europe and Asia, amassing a network of loyal co-competitors. But she thrived first and foremost in purposeful work. After nearly four decades in the classroom, she pursued a Masters in Education at the University of California, Berkeley, Armed with that new degree, she dove into troubled school districts in Oakland, rural Michigan, the Kayenta School District in Monument Valley and even Bangkok, Thailand, working as administrator, adviser and curriculum consultant.

As of her passing, even severe arthritis and surgery of the hip had only warranted a grudging half-retirement. Heidi was ceaselessly driven by a sense of duty towards those in need.

She is survived by her siblings (Claire and Dean), her son (Justin) and her ex-husband (Todd).

Services for Heidi will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m., at Berkeley Buddhist Temple, located at 2121 Channing Way.

Berkeleyside is always honored to publish, at no charge, obituaries of members of the Berkeley community. Please email text and photo(s) to editors@berkeleyside.com.