Remembering Lyda Boyer (1918 – 2020)

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Boyer Lyda

We are sad to report that Lyda Boyer, widow of Nobel Laureate Emeritus Professor Paul Boyer, passed away on Monday March 9, just short of her 101st birthday.

When UCLA biochemistry professor and Nobel Laureate Dr. Paul D. Boyer died in June 2018, the Boyers had been married nearly 79 years. Lyda will be cremated and her ashes scattered along with Paul’s at the foot of two redwood trees that bear their names. Lyda had been active until several weeks before her death, which was the result of congestive heart failure. She is mourned by her two daughters Alexandra Boyer and Gail Boyer Hayes, her daughter-in-law Roberta Bumann, widow of the Boyer’s son Dr. Douglas Boyer, as well as her eight grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and many friends and admirers.  

Lyda was born in 1918 to a pioneer farming family in Delta, Utah. Her father died when she was two, and she supported herself in college at Brigham Young University, where she met and married Paul. Lyda was exceptionally outgoing, optimistic, thoughtful of others, and active in the communities in which the Boyers lived. She and Paul enjoyed tennis, golf, bridge, and working together on editing the multi-volume classic series The Enzymes.

Boyer Lyda Montage

(From left) Lyda and Paul Boyer talking to reporters in front of Boyer Hall the day he won the Nobel Prize in 1997. A recent portrait of the Boyers. 

Lyda and Paul and their daughter at a UCLA event in 2015.

Boyer Lyda Montage2

(Left) Write up from Lyda’s 1938 sophomore yearbook. Paul and Lyda Boyer on their wedding day, Aug. 30 1939. The Boyers with their children after purchasing a new house in Minnesota in the 1950s. (Photos courtesy of Gail Boyer Hayes)

From the Los Angeles Times:

Lyda Whicker Boyer – March 23, 1918 – March 9, 2020 

Centenarian Lyda Whicker Boyer, a resident of Bel Air, Los Angeles, from 1963 through 2018, died March 9, just shy of her 101st birthday. She passed in her sleep in Vancouver, Washington, where she lived the final year of her life. The widow of Paul D. Boyer, a UCLA Nobelist in chemistry, Lyda helped him edit many volumes of The Enzymes. She was also an editor at UCLA’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs and Computer Center. 

Born in an adobe brick house in 1918 to pioneers in Delta, Utah, she lost her father at age two and the family fell into poverty. She left for college at Brigham Young University with her clothes packed in a cardboard box. There she met Paul; they were married for seventy-nine years. Three children and many moves later, she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, where she was also president of the Faculty Women’s Club. While living in St. Paul, she was active in local politics, helped create the development plan for Ramsey County, and served as president of the Roseville League of Women Voters. An eager traveler, she and Paul visited sixty countries. Until the last day of her life she was an avid reader. But what made Lyda most remarkable was her joy in simply being alive. Optimistic, big-hearted, and outgoing, she was the loving center that held her family together. Lyda is survived by her daughters Gail Boyer Hayes and Alexandra Boyer, by her daughter-in-law Roberta Bumann, widow of Dr. Douglas Boyer, and by eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.


Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,