Khyson Swong

khyson swong

May 3, 1924 ~ November 19, 2020

Dr. Khyson Swong, passed away in his sleep peacefully and virtually surrounded by his beloved family and loved ones. At 96 years old, he survived two wars, WWII and the Korean War.

Khyson was born in Chollado Korea, a farm village, on May 3, 1924, the only son.

Khyson attended and graduated from the prestigious Yonsei University with a BS in mathematics in 1950. To further his study, he applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship at The University of Michigan and graduated with an M.S and a PhD in Mathematics in 1963. He returned to Korea to teach at Yonsei University for 3 years and then applied for several professorship positions in Canada and the US.

He chose the US, Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee, where he taught mathematics during his tenure from 1966-1989. He loved the farm life and so his decision to move his family to Tennessee made perfect logic. While teaching full-time advanced calculus to university students, he worked on his farm to grow fresh Korean produce for his family and neighbors to enjoy.

In addition to teaching, the Tennessee Economic Development contacted Dr. Swong to be an interpreter when the Nissan plant was being courted to build a plant in Smyrna, TN. He was a rare person in the area who spoke fluent Japanese. For his services, he received one of the first pickup trucks built at that plant. He kept the truck for over 35 years and has contributed to Tennessee’s development as an important auto manufacturing center. The TN Governor the Honorable Bill Lee recognized him for his role.

His beloved wife, ChungSuk Swong, of 62 years predeceased him in February 2017. Although he was alone, he was not lonely as he stayed with each of his children in LA, Chicago and mostly in NJ. While he stayed, he was able to enjoy time with his grandchildren and great grandsons.

Although he never returned to Korea, he did return to visit Tennessee, most recently Labor Day weekend in 2020. He was able to visit his friends, neighbors and his wife's grave. At that visit, he said he was happy and had a good life for 96 years.

He is survived by three sons and one daughter, four grandchildren and two great grandsons: Dr. Chin Whan (SooJung Lee) Swong of Ottawa IL; Chin Hoe (Dr. Inkyung Yook) Swong of Alpine, NJ; Chin Goo (Sammy) Swong of Los Angeles, CA; daughter Nancy (David Saunders) Swong of Ft. Lee NJ; Four grandchildren, Dr. Kevin (Seo-Hyun Kim) Swong, Dr. Michael Swong, Sarah Swong, and Gregory Swong; and two great grand children, Elliot Swong and James Swong.

In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to a scholarship fund set-up at Tennessee Tech, Khyson and Chungsuk Swong Scholarship (Tennessee Tech University Foundation PO Box 5111 Cookeville, TN 38505). It was established to help students with financial need of related disciplines (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) achieve their educational goals.

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  1. Ken, deepest condolences to you and you family! You father lived a fullest life. May he Rest In Peace! Donation will be mailed to Tennessee Tech U for Khyson and Chongsuk Swong Scholarship. Take care!

  2. Hello everyone. Ahead of my birthday this weekend, I am hosting a Facebook fundraiser for the STEM scholarship fund in my grandfather's name at Tennessee Tech. Please see information here if you are interested in contributing to the fundraiser.

    I am unable to format the link such that it is a clickable hyperlink, but if you copy and paste the link into your browser it should take you to the webpage.

  3. Dear Ken and Inky,

    I am very saddened to hear about the passing of your father.

    As you know I met your dad in our breakfast sessions over the past few years and really enjoyed listening to him talk about his life in Korea and in Tennessee. Although your dad was Korean there were many phases of his life when his life mixed and overlapped with Japanese culture.

    I recall how impressed I felt when your dad proudly told me he was a ‘Kendo’ master in the l930s , and I still have a piece of paper he wrote in exquisite Japanese kanji “藤原鎌足“(Fujiwara Kamatari), the name of famous aristocratic governor in late 600s near Nara/Kyoto at the incipient stage when Japan was being founded as a nation; I believe your dad was trying to tell me that there is a historical thesis that Fujiwara Kamatari originally came from Korea. I was so impressed with his knowledge of Japanese language, history and culture that I always kept that piece of paper in my wallet.

    Even at his senior age I could tell your dad was well-endowed physically and mentally when he was young, to be a Kendo master as well as a mathematics professor. His eyes were very clear and sharp. So, I am very shocked to hear he has succumbed to Covid-19.

    They say in a happy marriage when wife dies first the surviving husband is overtaken by the sorrow of her passing about three years later.

    Now three years after the passing of his beloved wife, your mom, they are reunited in heaven again I am sure.

    Please keep me posted about 2066 Swong Family Reunion in Tennessee.

    With deepest condolences, respect and sympathy to your family.

    Yuji and Yumi Sugimoto

  4. Dear Chin Hoe and All Families,
    Brother Kevin just sent me obituary of your Father and word of your Mothers passing In 2017.
    Sadly, condolences to you and your brothers and Nancy for the loss of both parents. I know how tough it can be when so many around us have gotten so much older even when we have not! Where have the years gone? I hope all is well.

    With the fondest of Cookeville memories,
    Michael Mcilwain

  5. Mary sent December 25 at 6:29 AM
    Merry Christmas to you and yours. I was sorry to hear about your dad. That was a wonderful tribute to him in the paper. He was truly an extraordinary person………… Hope you have a great Christmas.

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