Balfoura “Bo” Friend Levine left this world April 5, 2020, to begin her next great adventure. Bo was born July 12, 1925, in Shanghai, China, to Russian refugees, Jacob Lion Friend and Frieda Kovarsky Friend. Although she was well taken care of, Bo grew up very poor and it profoundly affected her throughout her life. Bo was a very good student and graduated from the Shanghai Public School for Girls in 1943. She completed her first year of college at St. John’s University in Shanghai while working as a finance clerk for the 14th Airborne, the “Flying Tigers.” Then, a miracle occurred: her aunt and uncle Dubby and Louis Friend of Eastman, Ga., became her sponsors to come to America! Bo felt joy and anticipation as the General Gordon crossed under the Golden Gate Bridge on May 16, 1947, and docked in the port of San Francisco.
Her love affair with the University of Georgia and Athens began in September 1947. Most active on campus, Bo was on the executive council of Hillel, wrote for The Red & Black, was the organizer for many charitable and social events, and was tapped for Mortar Board her junior year. She received her ABJ degree from the Henry Grady College of Journalism in 1950, and ironically, her first job was writing obituaries for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Bo was a single lady for many years until she met the dashing shoe salesman Hans Mayer of Savannah, Ga. They married in 1953 and settled in Hawkinsville, Ga., where they built a family, opened Bohans shoe store, and enjoyed small town life until Hans’ untimely death May 28, 1968.
In August 1968 Bo moved with her three children kicking and screaming to Atlanta from Hawkinsville. The children would never know the real reason for the move until many years later. It is in Atlanta that “Miz Bo” as people were now calling her, began providing for her three children and jumped right into charity work as well.
Bo was a member of the Ahavath Achim Synagogue and its Sisterhood, Hadassah, and other Jewish organizations, as well as the Rhododendron Club. In the early 1980s, Bo took it upon herself to be a translator for many Russian families who immigrated to Atlanta, and she was the proud interpreter for the Moldova delegation of the 1996 Summer Paralympics. Bo was so proud to introduce the Moldovians to “Val-Mart” and relished her role for this historic event.
It was in Atlanta that Bo met her next two husbands Bernie Dudman, who she married in 1970, and Nate Levine, who she married after Bernie’s death in 1984.
After Nate’s passing, Bo had various suitors at her beloved home at the Renaissance on Peachtree, where she lived for the past 20 years. Never missing a dance or an activity, she stayed very busy and outpaced her adult children with her boundless energy. The self-appointed “maven” of the Renaissance on Peachtree, Bo spent her last years there surrounded by many friends and acquaintances.
Bo was a prolific correspondent and people person. She kept up with Israeli relatives, Shanghai friends from elementary school, UGA classmates, Hawkinsville friends and others she met along the way. She instilled in her children the joy of keeping up with old friends and they all carry on this spirit today.
Bo’s proudest day was January 7, 1954, when she would become an American citizen. She would never be a refugee again. In later years, when writing columns for the Jewish Georgian, Bo would always sign off with “God Bless America.” Her final request was to be wrapped in the American flag at death to honor her beloved country.
Bo is survived by her three children Sandy Mayer Baumwald (Larry), Ronnie Mayer (Debbie) and Laurie Mayer Coffey; grandchildren Erica Baumwald (Meaghan), Scott Baumwald, (Sarah Carter), Keith Baumwald (Betty Kaplan), and Tommy Black; and great-granddaughter Holden Baumwald.
In lieu of flowers, donations are graciously accepted to Jewish Family & Career Services, 4549 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30338, www.jfcsatl.org, a social service organization of the greater Atlanta area serving thousands regardless of age, race, religion or national origin. A graveside service was held April 7 at Greenwood Cemetery. The funeral was live streamed, https://www.facebook.com/dresslersjewishfuneralcare/. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.