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Richard F. Underwood
June 9, 1927 ~ June 25, 2023 (age 96) 96 Years Old
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Richard (Dick), grandson of pioneer Korea missionaries Horace Grant Underwood (1859 ~ 1916) and Lillias Horton Underwood (1851-1921), son of Horace Horton Underwood and Ethel Van Wagoner Underwood, passed away of heart failure in Urbana, Illinois. He is survived by his wife Carol Lutz Underwood, children Frederick, Marilyn, David and Elizabeth, 9 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and his sister Grace Underwood Harkness.
Richard was born in Seoul, Korea. Though formally educated at Seoul Foreign School, the school for which his mother was the first teacher in 1912, and with which he later spent the bulk of his career, Yonhi village near the campus of Yonsei University provided the natural school which forged his natural Korean language ability and much of his character. Repatriated with his family to the United States in 1942, he graduated from Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, received his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and his master’s degrees from Columbia and Rutgers Universities.
Richard served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the United States Army at the close of World War II and again during the Korean War. He served alongside his eldest brother Horace as an interpreter during the armistice talks that ended the Korean War. Richard was decorated with the Bronze Star (Oak Leaf Cluster). After the war, he served with the America Korea Foundation before being appointed to the Korea Mission of the Presbyterian Church U.S. and beginning his career at Seoul Foreign School in 1961. He retired as Head of School in 1992 and moved to Urbana where he was active in his local community and church and as an advisor of the Korean Church of Champaign-Urbana.
Husband, father, educator, devout Christian, Dick was a well-loved member of the community in Korea and the United States.
A memorial service will be held on July 8, 2023, at 1 pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana and officiated by Rev. Ham of the Korean Church of Champaign-Urbana. Two days before he passed, Dick called Rev. Ham to discuss funeral plans and the two men spent over an hour in prayer and conversation. Dick’s assurance of God’s love and forgiveness was palpable in his final days.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 37-39.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Prison Fellowship: www.prisonfellowship.org, The Salvation Army of Champaign County: give.salvationarmyusa.org or Seoul Foreign School: www.seoulforeign.org/giving/make--gift. Condolences may be offered at www.renner-wikoffchapel.com.