MANKATO – You might not know Kuhn Hong Lee, however should you ever attended the Mankato Space Worldwide Competition, you participated in one of many occasions he began.
“Dr. Lee was an exquisite man who labored arduous to convey individuals collectively,” mentioned Mankato’s Carole Petersen, describing the professor she had labored with in MSU’s Worldwide Pupil Workplace for 20 years.
Kuhn Lee died on January 21 at his house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was 83 years outdated.
“We had been a workforce,” Petersen mentioned. “Dr. Lee was the principal and I helped the scholars cope with a brand new nation and a brand new tradition.”
Petersen, a local of Nebraska, mentioned Lee was a caring and compassionate man. Not solely did he educate him about his house nation of Korea, he was open to listening to about his cultural background.
“I realized from him and he realized from me,” she mentioned, including that collectively they’d attended a number of state or nationwide conferences associated to her workplace’s program.
After the 2 co-workers retired within the late 1990s, they and their spouses traveled to South Korea collectively. Through the journey, Lee invited Petersen and her husband, Dwain, on excursions of their house nation.
Lee was born in Seoul. Round 1970, he and his younger household immigrated to Mankato, the place he obtained his grasp’s diploma in worldwide economics and served as an advisor to international college students and dorm residents. He was an affiliate director of the Mankato State Faculty Workplace of Overseas College students earlier than being appointed a full-time director in 1972.
The campus web site that he oversaw was renamed the Workplace of Worldwide College students. Its mission was expanded to incorporate the event of social packages and actions that may even be open to residents of america.
Lee is credited with driving a preferred competition in a school city that started in 1976 as a food-themed cultural gathering on campus.
“It was his thought: he needed individuals to expertise meals from different nations and construct a bridge to all cultures,” mentioned Lee’s daughter, Patty, of Boston.
She and her two brothers, John and Tom, grew up in Mankato, a group that welcomed the younger household of recent immigrants.
“Everybody was so keen to assist us,” mentioned Patty.
He recalled dressing in conventional Korean clothes for the Mankato Worldwide Competition that drew most of the people to the college campus.
“There was a lot meals and every thing was free.”
Lately, the annual Mankato Space Worldwide Competition usually attracted about four,000 individuals to MSU, extending to numerous ranges of the scholar union. It was canceled final spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Lee retired, he acquired recognition from MSU for his work in constructing cross-cultural connections and selling peace and justice.
Lee was a longtime member of the Rotary Worldwide service group. He had held many management positions within the Mankato chapter.
His spouse, Bang Received, was additionally well-known in the neighborhood. She operated Lee’s Tailor Store for a few years.
Patty mentioned her mother and father beloved to socialize, particularly on Sunday afternoons after church. His father beloved individuals and Mankato, he mentioned.
As soon as, he recalled, he was on sabbatical in California; He was so homesick for Minnesota that he returned early.
In 2000, Kuhn and Bang Received moved to the Twin Cities. Eight years later, they moved to Cambridge.
Patty mentioned her father rapidly added associates from Massachusetts to his circle. A number of individuals in her new neighborhood cried once they realized of Kuhn Lee’s dying.
“He was an exquisite communicator … curious and welcoming. He at all times knew everybody’s tales, and when he advised us these great tales, it was with pleasure.”
Lee’s kids have established a fund in his honor that can help the packages of Rotary Worldwide. Info is offered at: www.gofundme.com/f/kuhn-lee-memorial-donation.