Boxer Love Story: Howard Horner '40 and Grace (Boyles) Horner '41
Howard and Grace make up just one of Pacific University's nearly 950 alumni couples.
As a sophomore at Pacific in 1937, Howard signed up for Vocal Music under E.B. Harris who was new to Pacific, but had great ideas for an Acapella Choir, which could be taken to vocal music credit. About sixty students signed up. One of the sopranos was “a real beauty,” a freshman named Grace Boyles, who lived in Forest Grove. Howard walked Grace home after a concert on campus, kissed her goodnight, and was really “enraptured!” They “went together” from that time on.
During the summer months, Howard lived on a farm seven miles from Estacada, up in the hills.
"I had no car, so I would hitchhike from Estacada to Forest Grove on weekends to see her during the summer. We have a wonderful romance during my sophomore, junior, and senior years at Pacific!” said Howard.
In 1940, Howard started teaching at the Dalles High School during Grace’s senior year at Pacific. They had many letters back and forth and an occasional visit to see each other. Grace graduated with a BA at Pacific in the spring of 1941, but Howard had been drafted at the end of my first year of teaching, and was sent to Camp Roberts, Calif., assigned to the 56th Battalion in Files Artillery.
The couple had planned to be married in Dec., 1941 but those plans “went up in smoke” on Dec. 7, when Pearl Harbor was bombed. All military leaves and furloughs were canceled.
Instead of a wedding in Forest Grove, Grace came down to Camp Roberts, where they were married by an Army Chaplin. Attending their wedding were two individuals— a marvelous tenor from San Francisco Opera, who sang “Because,” and an Army Private, Conney Anderson, a soldier at Camp Roberts, who had been a member of the football team at Pacific.
They found a place to live in Paso Robles, about eight miles from Camp Roberts. Their first son Jim was born in Paso Robles in 1942.
Late, when Howard applied for a commission in Ordnance, Grace and him were separated again. Grace and their son Jim went back to Portland, and Howard went to Maryland for four months of training to become a Commissioned Officer.
After being commissioned, Howard was assigned to train troops at the Atlanta Ordnance Depot, Grace and Jim made the long trip by train from Portland to Atlanta, and the three of them were together in Georgia, until Howard was discharged from the Army in 1948.
They eventually returned to Estacada, Grace as a homemaker and a substitute teacher, and Howard as a High School teacher. His professional career has been extensive in Education, but “their lives have been blessed by the greatest love and respect for each other humanly possible,” said Howard.
The couple has three sons who are excellent students, and are now successful in the professions. Jim is a retired electrical engineer and VP of Hewlett Packard. Robert is a Doctor of Education at the University of Oregon. Greg is the Chief Assistant District Attorney in Clackamas County. All are married, have wonderful families. Howard and Grace have seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
On Feb. 11, 2015, Grace and Howard would have celebrated seventy-three years of wonderful married life together. Both Grace and Howard passed away in 2013.
“All of which can be traced back to our participation in music at Pacific University,” said Howard.
In 2012 Howard and Grace were featured in The Oregonian on the occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary.
Read more Boxer love stories at pacificu.edu/lovestory.