James D.S. Kim ’57 died on August 14, 2016, in Encinitas, California.
(The following was published in the Lodi News-Sentinel from August 20 to August 26, 2016:)
Lodi physician and American success story James “Jim” Dong Su Kim passed away peacefully at his home on August 14, 2016 surrounded by his family. Born in Taejon, South Korea on January 23, 1932, Dong Su Kim’s early life was marked by poverty and hardship. His mother passed away when he was a toddler and he was left with his father and abusive stepmother. Forced to care for his two younger stepbrothers, he worked several jobs to keep them clothed and fed. During the Korean War he was sent to live with his uncle. At that time he befriended several American soldiers and made himself indispensable to them through his ambition, intellect and work ethic. No task was too big or too small for him.
Major General Frank E. Lowe, a military advisor to President Truman, asked “Jimmy”, as he came to be known, to work with him as a translator and spy. During a special operation, he saved the general’s life from a North Korean ambush. Feeling indebted to him, the General pushed a bill through Congress in 1950 that allowed Jim legal entrance to the United States as his adopted son.
Jim finished high school at Bridgton Academy in Maine. He went on to study Chemistry at Bowdoin College where he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, the glee club, and photo club. Upon graduating from college in 1957 he studied medicine at Columbia University. While interning at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, he met Yoshiko Kimura, the lead nurse in the neurological institute. They were married in 1963.
After a brief time at Stanford Medical School, he joined the United States Air Force. They were stationed at Hahn Air Force Base in Germany. They have many happy memories from those early years, including traveling around Europe in their VW bug, and the birth of their daughter Patricia in 1965. After two and a half years in Germany, Jim returned with his young family to finish his internship and residency at Stanford . The family moved to Lodi in 1969, and their son Frank was born soon after. In Lodi, he began what was to become a successful Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Practice. His skilled hands, keen eyes, and direct approach attracted thousands of people from all over the world to make the trek to Lodi to consult with him. In addition to his private practice, he was a mentor, teacher and lecturer at the University of California at Davis, UCSF, and the Villa Bella Clinic in Salo, Italy. He took great satisfaction and enjoyment in this role. He retired in 2015 after 45+ year of practice.
Family and friends meant the world to him and he especially enjoyed vacationing with them at his “home away from home” in Kona, Hawaii. Although he traveled around the world, he loved the warm weather and friendly atmosphere of small town Lodi and chose it as his home and place to raise his family.
Jim was a true original and there will never be another soul like him. He believed deeply in the transformative power of hard work, self reliance and the American Dream. He was a kind, down to earth, talented and hardworking husband, father and grandfather. He will be missed greatly by all who had the good fortune to know him.
Jim is survived by his wife of 53 years, Yoshiko; his daughter, Patricia Kim Gable and son, Frank Lowell Kim; his son-in-law, Scott Thomas Gable and his grandchildren Natalie Kim Gable and Harrison Thomas Gable. As per his wishes, a small, private ceremony was held at Cherokee Memorial Cemetery.