Celebrating the Life of

Yeong Ell Kim

August  12 1933 - June 25 2020

Biography

Yeong Ell Kim was born in Jeju, Korea on August 12, 1933. He passed away after a stroke, at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, California, surrounded by his family on June 25, 2020, the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and of the diaspora that ultimately brought him to the United States.

 

Yeong had a deep love of science and physics. He was a professor of Physics at Purdue University for 47 years, group leader of the Purdue Nuclear and Many-Body Theory Group, and director of the Center for Sensing Science and Technology at Purdue University. As a theoretical nuclear physicist, he published over 200 technical articles. Yeong traveled widely and collaborated with scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Stanford University, and numerous universities in the U.S. and abroad. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and recipient of the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation Senior U.S. Scientist Award.

 

The son of an orange farmer, Yeong was among the first from Jeju, Korea to go to college. He studied at Seoul National University until the Korean War interrupted his studies. During the war, he worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army, befriending an American soldier with connections at Lincoln Memorial University. At the end of the war, Yeong immigrated to the U.S. and earned his B.S. from Lincoln Memorial University. He was accepted into graduate programs at M.I.T. and University of California Berkeley; fortunately, he chose Berkeley since that is where he met his future wife, Kyung Lim, a student at the nearby California College of the Arts. Yeong earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of California Berkeley in 1963, followed by a technical staff position at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, and a post-doctoral position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

 

His daughter Julia Kim Smith commented on her father’s remarkable American journey: “As a new immigrant to this country in the 1950s, my father lived the American Dream. His life-long passion for physics and boundless optimism continue to inspire us.” His grandchildren remember him for his warm smile and laughter.

 

Yeong is survived by his devoted wife of 60 years Kyung; his daughter Julia Kim Smith and son-in-law Scott Smith of Baltimore, Maryland; his granddaughter Elizabeth Smith of New York, New York; his granddaughter Margaret Smith and grandson Eliot Smith of Baltimore, Maryland; and his daughter Anne Kim and son-in-law Marek Mierzwinski of Santa Rosa, California.

 

A memorial has been postponed until after the pandemic. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Yeong’s memory to the Purdue University Physics and Astronomy Excellence Fund.

 

Thank you to Dr. Thomas Yatteau and the staff at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for the utmost care and respect shown at all times.

 
 

Photo Gallery

The gallery below is a tribute to Yeong Ell Kim from his family and friends.

 

Donation

A memorial has been postponed until after the pandemic. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Yeong’s memory to the Purdue University Physics and Astronomy Excellence Fund.

 

Thank you to Dr. Thomas Yatteau and the staff at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for the utmost care and respect shown at all times.

 

Guestbook

Please leave a memory of Yeong Ell Kim here