Obituary of Violet Suk Kemena
Violet Kemena (Kim) in Korea in the mid-1930’s. At the time, her birthplace was part of imperial Japan. Her early years were difficult. During World War II, she survived a forced labor camp. After the liberation of Korea, her family remained in Korea. As political turmoil grew, she fled with her parents, family and friends to Seoul within the American zone. Her parents died during the difficult journey and she eventually found safety at a city orphanage in Seoul.
Four months prior to the start of the Korean War, she became acquainted with Christian missionaries based in Seoul. When the war started, the missionaries were evacuated. Violet joined other orphans fleeing the advancing war front on foot. She was fortunate to join refugees transported to Cheju by US military transport.
When the Korean War ended, she returned to Seoul. She was assigned a birthdate and English-language name at that time: Violet. Despite war disruptions, she was a good student. Missionaries and classmates encouraged her to take a foreign exchange student qualifying examination. The top scoring students were given the opportunity to study abroad. Violet was one of them.
In the United States, Violet learned English and attended college. While in college, she met an American student, Edward “Ed” Kemena. Violet was blessed with a beautiful voice and they met after a vocal performance. Ed had served in the US army with UN peace-keeping forces in South Korea. He had learned a few words of Korean. He was able to say “Hello!” to Violet in Korean and their relationship began. They were married while attending college. They had never met in Korea and would often joke about traveling thousands of miles to meet each other in the United States. Violet and Ed were married for more than six decades. Ed died four years ago.
Life in the United States as a mixed-race couple was not easy in the Eisenhower era. Violet and Ed faced significant prejudice, racism and bigotry. However, they also met many supportive Americans who helped them navigate difficulties and hardships.
After the birth of two sons, Violet returned to college. She completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing and served as a nurse at Porter Adventist Hospital for nearly four decades. She was a busy nurse and parent. She was gifted with voice and piano skills and shared her talent as time allowed. She also enjoyed fine art oil painting of Colorado landscapes. After she retired, she enjoyed local travel, gardening at home and staying in contact with family and friends.
Violet is survived by sons Lloyd “Ben” (Mike) and David (Mary Anne). She is also survived by two grand-daughters, Shannon (Luis) and Nicole (Il-kyu) and their mother and former daughter-in-law, Renee (Renato). She has three great-grandchildren: Diego, Hanul and Carlos. Her husband, sons, grand-daughters and great-grandchildren were wonderful joys in her life. Orphaned as young girl, Violet also valued friends as her larger family of intention. She is survived by friends Kye, Soon-ja, Alice and Penny. She is also survived by neighbors Mike and Janet, Chris and Debbie, Doug and Nancy, Jeff and Dawn and Maria Elena. In addition, she is survived by cherished co-workers Nancy B, Nancy D, Gail, Denise and many others.
Honoring her values and wishes, she will be quietly interred with her husband at Fort Logan National Cemetery without funeral or memorial service. For her family, friends and the patients she served in the Denver area, her memory will be cherished. In her memory, she would hope that all will be generous with their families, friends and faith communities.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Violet Kemena, please visit Tribute Store