We can learn so much about a person through their relationships with others, and get a broader understanding of multiple connections between people. Please take a moment to read about my grandparents in order to better understand their lives through the stories of their loved ones.

Sun Boo Lee

            Sun Boo Lee Lim (“Sunny”) was born in North Korea on October 18, 1935. She passed away on February 19, 2021 due to lung damage from COVID-19. Sunny was a track star in high school, an artist, and studied violin relatively late in life.  Her family escaped North Korea before the fall of communism. She received her undergraduate degree from Seoul National University in the School of Music. Despite her late start on the violin, she came to the U.S. and studied violin first at Penn State Teacher’s College and then the New England Conservatory.

            Notably, she gave birth to her and Henry’s first child, David, in Connecticut (while Henry was at Pfizer) and was part of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. She had her second child, Carol, in Evanston, Illinois and also studied at the University of Illinois and the Chicago Sherwood Music School (with a graduation performance at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall) while Henry was in graduate school at Northwestern. 

            After moving to West Lafayette, Indiana (where she gave birth to Michael), she eventually had a long career teaching violin in West Lafayette, Indiana using the Suzuki Method. Michael was one of her first violin students starting at the age of 4, and all of her children played the violin and/or piano. Sunny was a proud member of the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra in Indiana. When she and Henry moved to California, she was a highly successful violin (and viola) teacher, at one point having more students making it to All-State Orchestra than any other teacher in Southern California. In California, she was a member of the Garden Grove Symphony Orchestra. 

            Sunny was instrumental in motivating Henry to go to graduate school, and encouraging all of her children not only to succeed in college, but to get post-baccalaureate degrees. She was the true driving force and backbone of our family. Never one to sit still, Sunny published a book in 2017 in Korean about her family (“My Father’s Love and His Descendants”) and was working on a second manuscript before her death.

Henry C. Lim

            Henry C. Lim was born in South Korea on October 24, 1935. He passed away on Feb. 12, 2021 from complications of COVID-19. After the Korean War, Henry came to the United States. During a time in this country where doors were not easily opened for immigrants, Henry was able to push through those doors using his keen intellect, street smarts, and quick mastery of the English language. Henry was destined to be a scholar, academic leader, passionate teacher, and impeccable researcher.

            As a student working multiple jobs, Henry was still able to achieve academic brilliance in math and science. He earned his master’s degree at Oklahoma State, his PhD from the University of Michigan, and his Post Doctorate at Northwestern University in Evanston (where his daughter Carol was born). He was a brilliant chemist at Pfizer prior to graduate school in New London Connecticut (where his son David was born) but academic life was his calling.

            For 20 years, Henry was a scholar and professor of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette (where his son Michael was born)—gathering critical acclaim, as well as national and international recognition of his research, publishing, and teaching. Henry was brought to UC Irvine to create the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. For nearly 20 years, Henry was a catalyst in the innovation and growth of that department and the overall engineering school.

            Henry and Sunny were instrumental in opening the door for immigrants (both Korean and non-Korean) coming to the United States for the first time. Henry was known for his generosity of assistance to others, his sense of humor, his ability to connect with scholars and academics across all fields, his sense of humor, and his loyalty to family. He also was a competitive ping-pong player, had a nice bowling stroke, had tremendous hand-eye coordination, and was a good cook. Henry and Sunny are survived by their children, David, Carol, and Michael; and their grandchildren, Natalie and Lanie.

            For more on the life of Henry C Lim, click here.