Richard Choi LA & Korean American Coalition?

Richard – I hope you’re able to look down on us today.

For the past few years, I’ve periodically looked for you. I searched on LinkedIn, on Facebook and elsewhere online to see if I could find you. You were nowhere to be found.

I thought maybe you wanted to keep your private life private. It made sense. You weren’t the type to ever broadcast how amazingly kind and generous you were. You would quietly help souls like this man who sent 33 kids to college with his life savings. You were this type of hero that our world never sees.

How do I know?

Let’s rewind time.

Circa 1993. Summer. (I feel like I’m some journalist or writer from the ’60s btw) I landed in Los Angeles for the first time that I can recall for more than just a few days. I was planning on living there for the summer.

The Korean American Coalition had selected me as their “Media Intern” and gave me a small stipend to work for KABC-TV in North Hollywood. I had just (almost) finished college and thought this would be a perfect foray into broadcasting — my mom’s dream for me moving forward. It also seemed kind of sexy for me too. So, why not?

Somehow, somebody roped you into taking care of me for the first couple of days. I had no place to go. I hadn’t planned far enough beyond simply landing in LA. I don’t know why I was so stupid back then, but I was. Out of the kindness of your heart, you let me stay on your couch. I think it was for a few days until I could find a place. Fortunately, I did within a week or less, but you let this complete stranger hang out with your in your downtown LA pad on your couch. I could have robbed you for everything you had in there or broke your dishes or just be a true nuisance. I don’t think I was any of that except maybe a very curious young 22 yo who asked you questions late at night while you were working. Fortunately, you didn’t lose much. I hope you gained.

We spent time together after I found a place because I was so thankful and you were in and around KAC as a volunteer. I could see how wonderful you were as a person and I still can hear your laugh and visualize your smile. You were a beautiful soul.

Today, our mutual friend informed me that you had passed. I was crushed.

I don’t get affected by much these days, but for the first time this week, the news definitely weighed my heart down.

You see, I had hoped some day, I would have been able to repay your kindness by seeing you, taking you out or even paying for your kids schools. I had wished I could have spent more time with you and reminisce about those days. I sincerely had hoped that I would cross paths with you again.

However, because of life’s truly unfortunate events, I don’t get this honor.

But because of the news today, I am going to dedicate some of our efforts here at WiL on your behalf. I don’t know what I’m going to name it, but I am going to let my team know that you are a reason why we WiL build a tool that will:

  • make sure that wonderful people like you are honored more than you were b/c simply you deserve it
  • there is a way to learn about unfortunate events like yours through your family or through other means so that people you impacted can join in the celebration of your legacy; my hope is that we’ll find a way to make sure family members will be able to inform the many people that our customers impacted will learn about their passing so they can join in on the funeral or otherwise, if the family wishes
  • and of course, we will build our platform to make sure that maybe, just maybe you felt the same about me as I did about you; rather, I think our friendship was decent at the time and I remember keeping in touch (or trying to). I know if you were on facebook, we would be chatting right now reconnecting and talking about our kids.

There are other hopes I have now in honor of your memory like seeing your wife and hopefully seeing you left some amazing children like yourself.

You are the second person (or should I say second “mentor”) that has reminded me that it’s already too late for WiL. Rather, you are a reminder that “It’s NEVER too early” to do this and I hope your story WiL help us get more supporters to build our products and services so that the sadness you left by no fault of your own will instead of happiness and an even greater legacy.

I know that without WiL, the world had already received the gifts of your incredible soul, but with WiL, I hope future Richard Chois or Rihanna Kims WiL have a chance to say goodbye in a way they control. We know that not everyone wants to leave their wishes or messages on WiL, but we simply want to give the option.

I hope you WiL.

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