Beck Chang Mi (Chung Me) was born on January 15, 1967 in Seoul, Korea. (Date and place designated by orphanage. Actual date, place, and natural parents are unknown). Chang Mi remembers only that she had an older brother in the Korean Army. He whipped her with his belt. Two sisters were of high school age. They showed her some of the English alphabet letters. A grandmother brought Chang Mi something to eat when she was sent to her room. Her mother threw her red shoes in the garbage after she had stepped in some dog “mess.”
Chang Mi remembers next that she crossed a “big bridge” with some other kids. “A big bridge” leads to the possibility that it was the bridge over the Han(Hon) River which leads to Seoul from Inchon and areas west of the river.
Later Chang Mi and other children were picked up by the police. She was first taken to a place where babies and toddlers were kept. She was also in an orphanage besides the “Yellow House,” which was a two-story, L-shaped, yellow building with quite a bit of lawn area, and a gate with a guard. (This seemed to be a collecting and processing center for children, from which some were sent to other orphanages.) Previously a boy told Chang Mi that he thought he knew where her parents lived, so they and some others ran away only to be picked up by the police. From the “Yellow House,” Chang Mi went to Angel’s Home Orphanage.
Angel’s Home consisted of six small buildings around a small flag stone square. The play area was outside the secured court yard.
September 28, 1974 was the monthly birthday party at Angel’s Home. It was attended by a few American people from the U.S. Army Headquarters Company, Yongsan (in Seoul), the company sponsoring the orphanage. In some cases they brought their families.
A musical program was put on by the children in the orphanage. Chang Mi and three other girls performed the Flower Basket Dance. At the end of the dance the girls were to give their flower, in the basket, to someone. Their dance teacher told Chang Mi to give her flower to a lady sitting by herself at the back of the room. Chang Mi then sat by the lady while everyone was having cake and ice cream. The company furnished the cake, ice cream, milk, and orange juice.
Thereafter, each time SSG (Shirley R.S.) Jones went to Angel’s Home, which was most Saturdays, Chang Mi and another girl Kim In Suk, a girl SSG Jones met earlier, clung to her arms. SSG Jones and a friend, Lt. Col. (Sister) Lillian Martin began taking the two girls on Saturday afternoon trips away from the orphanage. Other times SSG Jones, accompanied by a Korean friend, Miss No Song (Sung) Ok (Oak), took Chang Mi and In (Ein) Suk shopping. They thus got new coats, pants, tops underwear, socks, and boots.
On Thanksgiving Day about fifty of the school aged children, dressed in new clothes, were brought to the post on the Army bus sent to pick them up, to eat dinner in the company mess hall. The girls were among the children. SSG Jones and Miss No ate with Chang Mi and In Suk, then rode the bus back to Angel’s Home with them. After leaving the girls, they took a taxi to “The Yellow House” to seek out Chang Mi’s and In Suk’s records.
On December 20, 1974 SSG Jones took the girls to stay with her in her quarters on post, for six days. They were both excited to receive, among other things, their very own, first doll, a baby with hair and sleeping eyes.
By January 25, 1975, SSG Jones was able to rent an apartment off post. Her name had finally come to the top of the waiting list. It was in a compound of American style apartments that housed many American military families. Sister Kim Moon Soon, a returned missionary, became the housekeeper.
SSG Jones and Miss No went to the orphanage to get Chang Mi and In Suk. Without any official papers they were allowed to remove the girls, because Mrs. Yun, orphanage president, said that she knew Mrs. Jones was a “good woman.”
Another unforgettable event was when Sister Kim took Chang Mi and In Suk to the Korean beauty shop to have permanents. When “Mommy” (SSG Jones) came home from work and Sister Kim told her that it took six hours for the permanents, she couldn’t believe that it was six hours each. Needless to say, the girls were not anxious to have another permanent any time soon.
Chang Mi and In Suk gained two new friends, Susan Hope Lee and Lee Kyong Sil. Susan (Americanized her name) was attending the Yongsan LDS Servicemen’s Branch on post. Kyong Sil had visited the branch. She was a nonmember. Both were high school girls. They visited the apartment often and helped Chang Mi and In Suk with English. They too called SSG Jones “mom.”
SSG Jones had Sister Kim take Chang Mi and In Suk to Korean dancing school and they were going to Primary on post, where Sister Kim translated for them. On post at the children’s Saturday movie, she again sat between them to translate.
January and February were school vacation. They went to the local Korean school for about two months, then began staying at home for English studies.
On June 5, on the occasion of a double birthday party, Chang Mi became Donna and In Suk became Kara. It was Kara’s birthday, a day early. Donna’s birthday had occurred in January while they were still at Angel’s Home. The reason for being a day early was so the next day Kara, Donna, Sister Kim, Mom, and a friend from Mom’s office, Choi Soon Ho, could go with the Yongsan Servicemen’s Branch to a very mini Lagoon type amusement park. It was not yet open for the season to the public, but it was open for the use of the Branch members and friends for the fee of $5.00 per family. Soon Ho was in the Korean Army. He was a KATUSA, which is Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army.
Donna and Kara spent much time at the apartment complex swimming pool until both came down with ear infection. It was “a bitter pill” not to be able to go to the pool until the infection was gone.
In July ,Leonard, Mom’s husband, arrived from Alabama to begin the adoption papers. He was there for a week and had the opportunity of going to an Angel’s Home birthday party.
Donna, Kara, and Mom left Korea on November 1, 1975. Just before they left, they and Sister Kim went to the baptism of Choi Soon Ho at Sister Kim’s ward. Brother Choi had gotten out of the Army and had returned to the university.
En route to Anniston (Fort McClellan), Alabama, they had a short visit with their new Grandpa and Grandma, Harold and LaRetta Smith, in Lucin, Utah. They arrived in Anniston in the evening of Thanksgiving Day.
Before Christmas time Kara, Donna, and Mom were living in a small house by themselves as Mom and Leonard separated. He gave the girls bicycles for Christmas. Tall, walking dolls from Grandma and Grandpa Smith brought cries of, “A doll! A Doll!” Grandma Jones gave baby dolls.
In April came the divorce and Mom’s retirement from the Army.
After school was out, Grandpa and Grandma Smith came and escorted Kara, Donna, and Mom to their new home in Lucin, Utah.
The girls attended school and church at Grouse Creek, Utah, twenty-seven miles away. They graduated from the tenth grade then went to Bear River High School in Garland, Utah. Donna graduated in May 1985. Kara spent her last year in Ogden, graduating in June 1985.
Following high school, Donna lived a few months with Mom, who had moved to Logan, Utah to attend Utah State University. Donna attended the business classes at Bridgerland Applied Technology. In November she had mostly covered the course, so her instructors supported her in accepting an employment offer with Thiokol, the space capsule builders, near Tremonton. She received a certificate of completion.
Donna married Rick Jeppesen of Garland, who also worked at Thiokol, on February 14, 1986 in the Logan Temple. They lived in south Tremonton when their son, Tyler Rick, was born on August 25, 1987. At that time Donna left Thiokol and was employed at Bear River High School as Hi Stepper instructor for a year. Their daughter Tia Mi was born on October 27, 1989.
Later they moved to Logan for Rick to return to Utah State University. Donna worked and also owned, managed, and was an instructor of the Cache Valley Stars Drill-Dance Team.
They spent five months at Fort Sill, Oklahoma for Rick to attend the National Guard officer’s schooling. In February 1993 they returned to Garland. In September, Donna and Rick separated. She moved to Salt Lake City where she found employment. Tyler and Tia remained with Rick in Garland. Donna and Rick divorced in December 1993. Spending some weekends and holidays with their mom has become a way of life for Tyler and Tia. In September 1994 they and their dad became part of another family.
Donna met Patrick Sheehan, formerly of Missouri, March 1994. He was a U.S. Marine, and widower, stationed in Salt Lake City. He left the Marines in April 1995 to continue in the contracting, investing and loan business. They were married in the “White Chapel,” an old historical chapel, in Salt Lake City on November 30, 1996.
She has continued to work while at the same time “carry a heavy load” at the University of Phoenix night classes to earn a Bachelors Degree in business. The future aim is to pursue an MBA at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.
In elementary school, in Korea, Donna was student body president and was on the honor roll. While attending the Grouse Creek school, she participated in school plays, which were mostly at Christmas time, and participated in track meets at the Park Valley school, where she won a number of ribbons.
Donna performed a tap dance number, with other from the Grouse Creek school, in a talent show at Box Elder High School, Brigham City, Utah. In the same show, Donna and Kara, wearing Korean dresses, sang together. They both participated in community programs, such as on the Fourth of July, and were invited to Park Valley to sing on July 24, 1983. Grandma, LaRetta Smith, taught Donna to play the organ and piano.
At Bear River High School Donna was on the honor roll and a member of the Hi Steppers Dance/Drill Team. After graduating she was a finalist in the Miss Bear River Valley Pageant 1985 and received the Judges’ Award. Donna’s talent was performing a Korean dance. Following the pageant, Donna was invited to dance before various community groups. Later she became a consultant for pageant contestants and a pageant judge. Donna also did some modeling.
She was a member of the Yonsan Servicemen’s Branch, Seoul, Korea, Anniston Branch, Anniston, Alabama, Grouse Creek Ward, wards in Tremonton, Garland and Logan, Utah and a ward in Lawton,Oklahoma.
In Grouse Creek Donna was temporary Junior Sunday School teacher and along with other youth, took her turn playing the organ for the opening of ward Sunday School. She was Sunday School secretary in Tremonton and ward Sunday School chorister in Lawton. (1997)