Wednesday, January 17, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Imre Boba, Taught And Made History As UW Professor -- Native Hungarian Fought Against Nazis In Polish Resistance During World War Ii

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Imre Boba not only taught history for 28 years at the University of Washington, he made it.

First, in the Polish Resistance, helping refugees from Nazi-occupied Poland into neutral nations such as his native Hungary during World War II.

Then, as a reviser of traditional views of the location of Moravia, a pivotal area in the ninth century.

"It was his pet thesis," said Elizabeth Boba of Seattle, his wife of 41 years. "If it is accepted that Moravia is really a city in Serbia . . . not Czechoslovakia, it would have implications for modern politics and how history books are written."

Mr. Boba, who died of cancer Thursday, Jan. 11, at 76, wrote many articles and two books, including one on Moravia.

He was educated in Hungary and, after his father died, in Poland, where he went to live with a well-known uncle.

A leg ailment in childhood shortened one of his legs and precluded sports or military service, according to his family, so he gravitated toward reading and collecting books.

He also showed grit, said his wife. "When authorities where he applied for a scholarship asked why he hadn't mentioned his famous uncle, he said, `Because I wanted to make it on my own,' " she said.

After the fall of Poland, Mr. Boba returned to Hungary and helped in the Resistance - for which the Polish Government in Exile awarded him the Silver Cross of Merit with Swords.

He graduated from the University of Budapest in 1946.

He served with Radio Free Europe from 1952 to 1959 in Munich, Germany, where he met his future wife, then came to the United States, where he earned a doctorate in history at the UW in 1962. He remained to teach, sometimes in conjunction with the Russian and East European Program in the Jackson School of International Studies.

Students appreciated his advice to go to primary sources in original languages, and to be open to any possibility - even the revision of written history.

His own writing was simple and declarative, said his wife, who was also his editor.

At home, he liked parties - he told funny stories, and helped his wife cook Polish and Hungarian dishes - and enjoyed good music. He had taken the family to Eastern Europe several times.

Mostly, he liked doing research.

"As kids we would ask him why he didn't relax, and have some fun," said his daughter Eleanor Boba, of Seattle. "But he'd say, `I am having fun!' "

Other survivors include his daughter, Leslie Boba of Seattle; sister, Anna Boba of Gyor, Hungary; brother, Laszlo Boba of Miami, and one grandson.

Mass will be celebrated - mainly in Polish - at noon tomorrow at St. Margaret's Catholic Church, 3221 14th Ave. W., Seattle.

Remembrances may go to the Department of History, Box 353560, or the Jackson School of International Studies, Box 353650, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, or to the Northwest Cancer Center Foundation, 1560 N. 115th St., Seattle, WA 98133.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


Get home delivery today!