Death of Eva Peek Grainger, former missionary to Sri Lanka
1909 – 2013
Global Ministries was saddened to learn of the death of Eva Peek Grainger, former missionary to Sri Lanka.
Eva Peek Grainger was born in Freeborn, Minnesota, November 15, 1909. She died peacefully at home January 14, 2013, at the age of 103 in Bothell, Washington.
Eva was the eldest daughter of Milon and Ida Peek. She grew up on the family dairy farm, rode her horse to school, and looked after the chores and organization of the family as was expected of the eldest daughter in those days. Eva then departed from the norm and attended Oberlin College graduating with honors in 1931. She returned to Freeborn where she taught at Freeborn High School from 1931-1936. In 1936 Eva left Freeborn to follow her dream to travel abroad. That dream had been inspired by her two older brothers, Charles and Ernest, who had traveled and witnessed the world due to their military commitments. Eva applied for and received a teaching assignment with The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions which assigned her to The Uduvil Girls School in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). She taught at Uduvil from 1936-1942 taking a sabbatical from Uduvil and returning to New York to complete her Masters in 1941 at Columbia University. With her Masters completed and the fear of war present, Eva set out to again return to The Uduvil Girls School. Eva was notified that American citizens would not be allowed out of the US after December 1st because of the possibility of war in the Pacific. Consequently her plans to travel by ship were cancelled abruptly. Not to be thwarted Eva, with the help of her colleges and The American Board, rebooked travel onto the Dutch line Java Pacific. On the ship Jaegersfontein the Americans remained on board for two days prior to sailing to insure that the December 1, 1941, decree would not impact them. The sailing was smooth and spirits were high, Eva and friends were eager to see their port of call, Hawaii and Diamond Head, so they woke early. It was 6:30 am December 7 when the Jaegersfontein sailed into history witnessing the ongoing attack on Pearl Harbor, and entering the war as the first Dutch neutral by returning fire. Her diaries and ledgers speak of the confusion during and after the attack. Eva, the student of history, was now a part of history.
The ledgers and diaries which Eva kept tell of the long voyage cloaked in secrecy back to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Their convoy was the last through the Sunda Straits. On board ship and through the yearlong effort to return to Sri Lanka Eva met British Naval Officer Edwin John Grainger whom she would later marry in Bombay, India, in 1942. Eva would return to Uduvil and John went to sea on the British Naval ships the Beacon and the Cornwallis until war was over. In 1946 with the war over and her commitment to Uduvil completed, they moved to Shanghai, China, where John worked for the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank and their daughter, Stephanie, was born. Historic events would again impact their lives. In 1949 all Americans were evacuated from Shanghai which with the approaching People’s Liberation Army the city fell to the Red Chinese. Eva with her 3 year old daughter in her arms was evacuated five days before the city fell. John, as he was a British citizen, was unable to leave and remained in China for over a year under very trying circumstances. Eva and Stephanie and the other American evacuees would be evacuated by the US Navy to San Francisco.
Eva’s former students have sought her out and kept in touch with her from Freeborn to Uduvil, a world away. It was the character Dr. Seuss who was quoted: “Oh The Things You Will See” and Eva did, always making the things she saw come alive for all of us.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Edwin John Grainger; brothers, Charles and Ernest Peek; and sister Stella Colberg. She is survived by her daughter Stephanie (Robert) Kampas and grandsons Brien and Christopher and sisters Helen Safford and Edith Nelson. Memorial gifts may be made in her name to World Concern (Crista Ministeries) or The American Red Cross in lieu of flowers.
Eva will be returned to her beloved Freeborn Minnesota. The funeral service will be conducted June 22, 2013, 11 am at The Freeborn Congregational Church. The family welcomes the community to join them celebrating Eva Peek Grainger’s long and extraordinary life. Condolences may be sent to: Ms. Stephanie and Mr. Robert Kampas, 22203 4th Ave SE, Bothell, WA 98021-8252.