A graveside celebration of life for Constance "Hai" Ruth Almquist-Bovollen, 62, of Oslo, Norway and formerly of the Essex area will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 11:00 am at the Essex Cemetery. Following the graveside, there will be a lunch served and fellowship with the family at the Faith Covenant Church in Essex.
Lim Hai Yong, later Constance Ruth Almquist, arrived in the United States on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1959, as an adopted orphan from Korea. Her real birthdate is not known, but she was given April 15, 1958, as her birth date. She grew up in Essex, Iowa with her adopted parents Gunhild and Reynold Almquist, their children Mary Adams-Lackey, David Almquist, Kitty Metzger, Betty Almquist, and adopted daughter Christine Beckman. She was orphaned again at the age of 7 when Gunhild died and she became an extended part of the new family when Reynold remarried Edna Carlson with children Phyllis, Marla, and Kevin. Lenora and Bernice Carlson, however, became the foster parents she would rely on throughout her life. After completing Essex High School in 1976 she would graduate from North Park College in Chicago in 1981 with a bachelor degree in social sciences. In Chicago she would get involved with social work in favor of children in vulnerable neighborhoods.
Joining the US Peace Corps in 1982, became the beginning of a lifelong dedication and interest for Latin America, human rights and advancing opportunities for the poor and vulnerable. While working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, she met Hans Petter Buvollen from Norway who she married in 1984 and settled in Oslo, Norway where her only child, Elena, was born in 1985. From her time in Norway, she started to use her original Korean name Hai. After 5 years in Oslo, the young family went to San Francisco, California, where Hai worked with the Urban Health Programme, sponsored by the Center of Disease Control to control the spread of AIDS. In 1990, she moved with her family back to Central America to work with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation as adviser with the Ministry of Education in the remote town of Puerto Cabezas on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. This was the beginning of a 26 year stay in Latin America.
After 5 years in Nicaragua, she moved on to Guatemala with her family to work with the Organization of American States (OAS). Hai loved Guatemala and spent 16 years of her life there. She would work with the Norwegian Embassy in Guatemala, with UNESCO, as independent consultant and being dispatched as election observer to more than 30 elections in Latin America and the Caribbean over the years. She was widely known for her hospitality, generosity, and care. Her cooking skills are famous, and there were always guests at the table. While in Guatemala, she completed two masters studies, in human rights at the Rafael Landivar University and in sociology at the University of Salamanca in Spain. She also carried through a Ph.D. dissertation in sociology with the University of Salamanca which she completed in Madrid, Spain in 2016.
From 2007, she started on a journey of moving to a new country every 3 years. First she spent 3 years in Bolivia, then back to Guatemala for 3 years, Honduras for 3 years and finally Jerusalem for 3 years. Only 5 months prior to her acute illness and surprising passing, she moved to Norway with the intention of settling there and to face retirement. For the past 25 years she spent long summer holidays at her family’s summerhouse by the sea in Norway, which became an important gathering point for a large number of friends. Besides her famous cooking skills, she was very fond of handicrafts, especially knitting and quilting. She made sure all the grandchildren of our friends received their beautifully knitted sweaters.
She is survived by her husband Hans Petter Buvollen of Oslo, Norway; her daughter, Elena Buvollen and fiancée Gabriel Solórzano of Bogotá, Colombia; her sister, Christine Beckman of Pleasant Hill, California; her sister, Kitty Metzger of Des Moines, Iowa; her sister, Mary Adams-Lackey of Baltimore, Maryland; her step-siblings, Phyllis Carlson of Clarinda, Iowa, Marla Newlin of Armstrong, Iowa, Kevin Carlson of Bettendorf, Iowa; her foster mother, Lenora Carlson of Clarinda, Iowa with foster sister Judy Fastenau of Clarinda, Iowa and David Carlson of Minnesota.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Go Fund Me for Hai.
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