Rev. Moon Hee Choi, a retired clergyman of the United Methodist Church Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, died at age 92 on July 7, 2019. He lived 33,658 days.
He was born on May 13, 1927 in Wonsan, (North) Korea during the Japanese Occupation of Korea. He was the sixth of nine children by his mother, Chung Gook Lee, and father, Jhoo Gook Choi.
Rev. Choi became a chaplain in the South Korean Army during the Korean Conflict after serving as an elementary school teacher and a secretary taking care of supplies for the Wonsan Orphanage.
He married Soon Hyung Kang. Early in their marriage, they served at an affordable middle school in Jichooklee near Seoul for low-income families. He taught English and Social Studies and his wife taught Music and Math.
He served 18½ years as a chaplain in the South Korean Army achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. However, he was forced to resign due to flawed security laws imposed upon the Army under a dictator-led authoritarian government that he conscientiously opposed.
He then became an associate pastor at Samsun United Methodist Church in Seoul, Korea after his best friend, Rev. Chung, who was the pastor of the church, invited him to serve.
He immigrated to the United States in 1976 after being invited to serve as an associate pastor of the Christ Korean UMC in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In 1979, he became the pastor of the Tampa Korean UMC, and, in 1985, he became the pastor of the Montgomery Korean UMC. He later became a member of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference and retired from the Conference in 1991.
Away from work, Rev. Choi enjoyed reading, researching, writing journals, swimming, bicycling, and traveling.
For a year, he stayed in Israel excavating a biblical archeological site, and he also made a pilgrimage to the sites that St. Paul traveled to in his biblical journeys.
He also contributed to missionary works in Mongolia, Ukraine, and North Korea. He toured England out of respect for John Wesley's works and made numerous trips to Florida, Alabama, and Hawaii to visit his youngest son and his daughters.
Recently, in February and March, he spent two months on Oahu with the family of his daughter, Angela, where he walked, hiked, biked, and even took a solo bus ride of Oahu to take in the island sights that he remembered there from his time when he first arrived in the United States.
His wife, Soon Hyung Kang, preceded him in 2002. He is survived by five children, Angela/Jaeman Lim, Yosup/Kapryoun Choi, Hyesun/JongYoun Park, Hyejin Choi/G Johnson, and Simon/Juhyun Choi; his grandchildren, Alex Lim, Grace/Martin Kwaskowski, Sammy Lim, Miriam/AJ Cave, Paulan Choi, Robia/Angel Llamas, Rachel/Andrew Wu, John Park, and Andy Choi; and one great-grandson, Benji Cave.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 10:00 am with a viewing at 9:30 am at Conejo Mountain Memorial Park, 2052 Howard Rd. in Camarillo, CA.
Please do not send flowers or wear black dresses. All donations will be sent to the missionary works that Rev. Choi supported.