Church mourns death in family
By Suzanne Roig
KAIMUKĪ — Michelle Jeoung Ah Kim, a pedestrian killed Friday morning when a school bus loaded with children hit her, was honored yesterday by her fellow church members at the Logos Korean Church.
The tiny church that she helped found was like her family and was one of several places she walked to regularly.
Kim did not own a car and walked to the church in Kaimukī every other day. She walked to the bar she co-owned on South King Street. And she walked to her yoga class at the YMCA.
Church members believe the 65-year-old Kim may have been heading to her yoga class on Friday when she was killed at 6:35 a.m. in front of her Ala Wai Skyrise apartment building at 555 University Ave.
Kim's name was not released by the Honolulu medical examiner, but her identity was confirmed by her friends.
"She was compassionate for other people," the Rev. Ilhycon Nam, the pastor of Kim's church, said yesterday before the start of her memorial service.
"She wanted to help people. She was a very strong Christian."
Kim is the sixth pedestrian to die so far this year in Honolulu. That's more than half of all the pedestrian deaths last year. On average, 18 pedestrians a year have died over the past five years.
Kim's death stunned church members, who always saw her as a quiet person willing to help and pitch in with cash or muscle.
When the church moved to its current location on the corner of 12th and Pahoa avenues, Kim donated money to help pay for the land, Nam said.
She did not want any recognition, and no plaque hangs in her honor. But that's the kind of thing she would always do for her friends and church, Nam said.
Kim lived alone in her adopted home of more than 30 years. Her family members, who were traveling to Honolulu after her death, live in South Korea.
She was the part-owner of the Blue Ribbon Bar & Grill on South King Street, where she worked nights.
She also served as a senior deacon at the church and helped outfit the choir.
"She liked to exercise," Nam said. "She didn't drive, but would take TheBus on rainy days. She was very healthy. She had a very good character. She has many friends here because she thought of the church as family."
Her birthday was coming up on March 7, Nam said, and Kim was excited about being able to collect Social Security benefits at 66.
Yesterday, 40 mourners came to a Korean service to pray and remember all the things their friend and fellow church member did.
"She acted like a teenager, even though she was 65," Nam said. "She always dressed very sporty and very cute."
Sanghee Yoon, who had been friends with Kim for more than a decade, said Kim loved to garden.
Recently, Kim planted a small rosemary plant in the garden near the front entrance of the church. Every time she came to church, Kim watered the plant and tended to it.
"She was very quiet, but devoted to the church," Yoon said. "She wanted to get actively involved."
Said Nam Hyun, who was a founding member of the small church with Kim: "She did a lot of things for the church, without ever being recognized."