July 28, 1934 – March 8, 2023
Dr. Thomas Yun Kim of Bountiful, Utah and Verona, New Jersey, beloved husband, father and grandfather, dedicated educator, pioneering researcher, advisor to governments and community leader, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 88.
Dr. Kim was a noted educator and researcher, best known for his 40-plus year affiliation with Utah State University (USU) where he served as a professor of sociology and demography, department chair and chair of the Asian studies program. His contributions to the field of demography and population studies were wide-ranging and significant. In 1968, he founded and directed what is now known as the Yun Kim Population Research Laboratory at USU, one of the oldest research labs in the country.
Following his retirement from USU, he continued to be involved in higher education, serving as a provost at Far East University in Korea and a visiting professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Over his six-decade career he mentored generations of students, many of whom became distinguished researchers and educators in their own right.
Over his long career, he worked with the United Nations, the US Agency for International Development, the Asian Development Bank and the US Census Bureau to assist the governments of the Philippines, Tanzania, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Pakistan, Thailand and the US to develop their population planning, social service and education programs, impacting millions world-wide.
Dr. Kim worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Asian-Americans in Utah and throughout the United States. He was a founding member of the Utah Korean Association and actively involved with the Asian Association of Utah. In addition, he was instrumental in founding the Korean American University Professors Association where he served as president.
Dr. Kim was born in a rural village in Korea, the second of five children and the only son of a scholarly family. He graduated from Seoul National University and continued his education at the United Nations Demographic Training and Research Center in Bombay, India, and Princeton University. He received his MA in 1963 from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he was advised by Professor Dorothy Thomas, his life-long mentor and after whom he adopted the name “Thomas”, and his Ph.D. in 1966 from the Australian National University, after which he joined the faculty at USU.
During the summer of 1962 while at the University of Michigan, he met his future wife of 60 years, Wendy Yea, a nutritionist and biochemist who had a long and distinguished career in her own right as a business executive, educator and researcher.
Dr. Kim loved nature and was a self-taught and avid sportsman who enjoyed golfing, skiing, fishing and camping with his family.
Dr. Thomas Yun Kim is survived by his beloved wife Wendy, three children and their spouses, Harold and Julia, Donald and Jean, and Gloria and John Pak, seven grandchildren,
three surviving sisters and numerous nieces and nephews. His passing is a great loss to his family, friends, students and colleagues, and to the many others he has touched over the years. He leaves behind a legacy as a pioneer, an educator, advisor and mentor, and a kind-hearted individual who always helped and counseled those in need. His impact will be remembered for generations to come.
The family will hold a private burial service in Bountiful and a larger memorial service to celebrate his life this summer in Utah—details forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Yun Kim Population Research Lab at USU by using the following link: https://www.usu.edu/advancement/give/memorial/yun-kim.