Saybrook College Master Mary Miller and Dean Paul McKinley held a memorial service Sunday afternoon in the Saybrook Master’s House in honor of Wook Choe ’07, who died on Nov. 18, 2005, after struggling with a terminal illness.
About a dozen friends and former suitemates of Choe’s gathered to share stories and memories at the audio-taped ceremony, where students discussed Choe’s love for friendships, science, puzzles and anime cartoons. Miller said Choe was a dedicated student, taking challenging classes during his time at Yale, and was known for his positive outlook on life.
“Many noted his zest for the world and his intense optimism, even in the light of serious illness,” Miller said.
Students attending the memorial said the service appropriately reflected Choe’s optimistic spirit.
“We didn’t meet there to focus on loss and instead gathered to celebrate his life.” said Evan Suzuki ’07, Choe’s freshman year roommate.
Sarah Newman ’07, who described herself as one of Choe’s closest friends, said she was happy to see a wide range of people who knew Choe attending the service.
“The tone of the service was not overly somber nor uplifting but more of a time for everyone who knew Wook to get together and talk about how they remember him best,” Newman said. “Everyone shared different views, which gave a more complete picture of Wook.”
Choe’s freshman counselor, Michael Guo ’04, told stories about Choe from his first year at Yale, while current roommates shared more recent lighthearted anecdotes, Newman said. Miller also shared her first impressions of Choe, Newman said, and Choe’s nurse from Yale University Health Services and the Associate Master talked about Choe’s positive attitude during his final months of life.
“The stories ranged from his sense of humor, to his generosity and compassion for his friends, to his courage and optimism,” Newman said.
Despite the presence of the audio recorder, which Yale will send to Choe’s family in Korea, students attending the ceremony seemed open and comfortable while discussing Choe’s impact on their lives.
“You’d forget that it was there and everyone would just be laughing, joking, and sharing memories,” Newman said.
Choe remained at Yale until shortly before Thanksgiving Break, when he returned to his native Korea to be with his family.