I met Dr. Kiuck Lee in Chicago during the Summer of 1972, when a group of Korean scientists and engineers got together to welcome Dr. Shim Moon Taek, President of the Agency for Defense Development. Dr. Shim was a close aide to Korea President Park Chung Hee and he came to visit Chicago at the invitation of Dr. Kiuck Lee, who was his close friend.
At that meeting, a five member committee consisting of fresh PhD’s was formed to organize a Chicago Chapter of the Korean Scientists and Engineers Association in America, commonly known as KSEA. It was then that I realized Dr. Kiuck Lee was already the Vice President of KSEA, which had been formed just one year before.
A youthful Professor Lee impressed all of us there with his calm and mature attitude, and we immediately realized the importance of why we were there. This was my first impression of Professor Kiuck Lee and how I came to know the great man that he was.
In 1973, a KSEA Chicago Chapter was founded where Dr. Je Hun Kim and I were elected as Chapter President and Vice President. Since then, Professor Kiuck Lee and I have worked closely together. He was not only my co-worker, but he was also my mentor, friend, and collaborator.
His enthusiasm for the cause of KSEA was so strong that Dr. Kiuck Lee attended most of KSEA’s annual conventions, even limited by a wheelchair, until last year in New Jersey. There would be no history of KSEA without his devoted service for the organization.
KSEA now has grown to hold a large annual convention attended by about 2,000 from both Korea and the USA. Even though there will be just a single man missing in attendance in the coming San Francisco convention this year in August, the void he has left will be felt by all who are there.
My relationship with Dr. Kiuck Lee was not limited to just KSEA. In 1982, Professor Kiuck Lee was elected as the first President of the Seoul National University Alumni Association in the Chicago Area, SNUAA-Chicago, and I was one of the three Vice Presidents.
Through his initial leadership of SNUAA-Chicago, the organization now has developed into a leading center for the community services in the Chicago area. Our alumni are taking leadership roles in many areas including scholarships awards and many cultural activities for our communities.
We will all miss our beloved friend Dr. Kiuck Lee very much. There is sadness in all of us that he is no longer with us on this earth. However, there is also great joy and hope in his vast legacy, and comfort in all that he has left behind for us. His beautiful family, his impact on KSEA and his leadership of SNUAA-Chicago will all serve as reminders of all that he has accomplished, not just for all of us in this room, but for generations to come.
By Yong Nak Lee