TWP., Montgomery County -
Hee Lee's father, a Korean land holder, died when
she was just 2 years old, leaving her mother, Hae
Kim, to raise her and her brother Lee Woon in Daegu,
Korea. "It was a struggle," said Lee, 54,
of Washington Twp., as she stood in a hallway of Southview
Hospital last week.
A small framed picture of Lee with her mother, who
died June 1 at age 85, hangs on the wall. A nearby
sign proclaims the area, the Hae Kim Gallery.
Over the past two years, Lee has donated nine oil
paintings, valued at more than $35,000, to the gallery.
Lee and hospital officials dedicated the gallery July
12, the 18th birthday of Lee's son Christopher Wu,
adding two paintings by Emanuel Mattini to the seven
already there by American artist Roybal. Roybal's
work has whimsical curly haired, sock-footed child
All depict a love of life, joy, kindness, hope and
cheer, "all characteristics of my mom,"
Life as a single mother in Korea was hard 50 years
ago, Lee said. Though Lee married and moved to America,
her mother remained her right arm, visiting frequently.
About 22 years ago, she moved here and became a part
of the Wu - Teddy Wu is Lee's husband - household.
Hae Kim cooked, did the laundry, gardened and reared
Lee's three children "so I could work, do my
art and write," said Lee, who owns the Wind Fine
Art Gallery in Centerville and is an artist, author
and columnist for the Korean Daily News.
"Every day, we watched a Korean soap opera together,"
Lee said. "She gave me direction. In a way, she
was my boss. She attended every art show I had."
Hae Kim spent her final days in Southview Hospital,
going home seven days before she died.
"She always said she didn't want to be a burden
on her family and prayed to God every day to 'let
me die in seven days,'" Lee said.
Hae Kim said that would give everyone time to say
goodbye. When the time came, with her last words she
vowed to take all their pain and suffering with her,
carrying it on her head and back, so the family will
remain happy forever, Lee said.
"My mother was a very loving and caring person
and she always liked to give things to people, so
I think the gallery would make her very happy,"
She said she plans to continue donating two or three
works a year.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2341 or kullmer@DaytonDailyNews.com.
Copyright, 2007, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.
Hee Lee stands with her late mother Hae Kim, who died
at age 85, June 1. Contributed photo
Hee Lee, a Washington Twp. and owner of Wind Fine
Art Gallery, is donating a gallery of artwork to Southview
Hospital in honor of her mother Hae Kim, who passed
away June 1.