2006.09.15: September 15, 2006: Headlines: COS - Korea: Obituaries: Korea Times: Obituary for Korea RPCV David Alvord

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 10 October 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: October 13, 2002 - Korea Herald: David Alvord came on the U.S. Peace Corps' pioneer mission in Korea : 2006.09.15: September 15, 2006: Headlines: COS - Korea: Obituaries: Korea Times: Obituary for Korea RPCV David Alvord

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Obituary for Korea RPCV David Alvord

Obituary for Korea RPCV David Alvord

He came to Korea with the first U.S. Peace Corps contingent in 1966. Stationed in rural Kangwon Province, he fell in love with the country and its people. A photograph from that time shows him carrying an A-frame, surrounded by grinning farmers. In 2002, he returned here to teach English. I am not sure what brought him back. Perhaps he had been financially unsuccessful; he certainly never had much money (though it never bothered him). He also had little time for technology. He despised cell phones, and when I set up a hotmail account for him, he insisted that he knew how to use it, but (as far as I know) never did. What he did have was time for people. His enthusiasm for travel, mountain hiking, athletics, dogs, and, of course, his beloved Korea and Idaho were infectious. Several times, just seeing his figure in the distance -- or hearing his booming voice, which preceded him by a considerable distance -- would bring smiles to faces. My four-year-old daughter loved being around him.

Obituary for Korea RPCV David Alvord

Idaho Loses a Son, Korea a Friend

By Andrew Salmon

Korea Times

Sept. 15, 2006

Last week, the world was stunned by the death of one of the greatest _ and most likeable -- characters of the small screen, Steve ``Crocodile Hunteríí -- Irwin. At bars and Internet bulletin boards worldwide, people asked: Why?? Here was a man in the prime of his life, highly experienced in the handling dangerous critters, meeting his fate at the hands of something as innocuous as a stingray.

In the same week, another tremendous and very likeable character passed on. He had no television show, and was known only to Seoulís expatriate community. But although his nemesis was a far more nightmarish creature than the stingray, which killed Irwin, his death has sparked a similar reaction: Why?

U.S. native David D. Alvord III passed away last Monday. He was 64.

Upon meeting David, you discovered three things immediately. One, he was from Idaho, and proud of it. Two, he loved Korea -- yessir. The third thing he did not have to say as it was visually apparent: a life of track had made him superbly fit. His fitness, his clothing -- the favored loud shirts and sneakers -- and his manic enthusiasm for life made him seem more like a teenager than a senior citizen.

He came to Korea with the first U.S. Peace Corps contingent in 1966. Stationed in rural Kangwon Province, he fell in love with the country and its people. A photograph from that time shows him carrying an A-frame, surrounded by grinning farmers.

He went on to work in local government in Idaho which, due to its mountains and its rugged people, he liked to call the Kangwon of America. When he revisited Yangsan, Korea, in 1990, the photo shop still displayed a picture of him, in hanbok. It reduced him to tears. He later advised Idaho Senator Mike Crapo who visited Korea during the 1997/8 crisis to deal fairly with Korea.

In 2002, he returned here to teach English. I am not sure what brought him back. Perhaps he had been financially unsuccessful; he certainly never had much money (though it never bothered him). He also had little time for technology. He despised cell phones, and when I set up a hotmail account for him, he insisted that he knew how to use it, but (as far as I know) never did.

What he did have was time for people. His enthusiasm for travel, mountain hiking, athletics, dogs, and, of course, his beloved Korea and Idaho were infectious. Several times, just seeing his figure in the distance -- or hearing his booming voice, which preceded him by a considerable distance -- would bring smiles to faces. My four-year-old daughter loved being around him.

I first met him after Boeing Korea head Bill Oberlin, then head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, suggested he speak to me; I was writing a history of American business for the chamber. David swept into the office like a whirlwind. We ended up talking (i.e. he talked; I listened) for hours about Korea in the old days. After he had left, awed colleagues asked: Who on earth was that??

It was a common reaction. David bubbled over with fun, had no hint of shyness, and could make anyone feel at ease. He was one of the few Americans unperturbed by the anti-U.S. sentiment rife in Korea in 2002. He refused to take sides and was adamant that the Koreans had a point. One of those who he preached to on the issue was U.S. Forces Korea Commander-in-Chief, General Leon LaPorte.

Whatever his opinions, I doubt he lost any American friends with his spirited advocacy of Korea. He even won a wife (his second) from among the ranks of USFK: Naval Commander Ann Clark. They married in Seoul in 2004.

The fact that he was so full of life made his death doubly shocking. The creature that killed David was an unseen resident of a Seoul eatery; he contracted a vicious parasite while eating seafood. The worm multiplied inside him. Its offspring _ horrifically _ exited through his nose and ears. They also destroyed one of his lungs.

My colleague Mike Breen and I telephoned him in hospital in the United States on the day of his death. Mike had heard from Ann that he was in intensive care, but understood that he was on the mend. When he spoke, his voice was inaudible.

We decided to call back later. I also decided to email David, via Ann, a photograph of my daughter. But it was a busy day. Should I do it tomorrow, I thought. By then, he was gone. The shock was immense.

Why did he die?

Physically, he was fitter than many men half his age. In the broader terms of life and fate, his death screams injustice. A happy retirement with Ann beckoned. David was caring, generous, open. In short, a good man.

Why?

Idaho has lost a son; Korea, a friend. Goodbye, David. I hope you had fair winds when you passed over on Sept. 4 2006.

Davidís wife Ann asks those who knew him not to send flowers, but to make a donation to Ai Kwang Won, a home and school for the disabled on Koje Island, of which David was a patron. Contact: 055-681-7524.

Andrew Salmon is an author and journalist who covers Seoul for the Times, the Washington Times and the South China Morning Post.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: September, 2006; Peace Corps Korea; Directory of Korea RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Korea RPCVs; Obituaries





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Story Source: Korea Times

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