Dr. Won Shic Hong

Won Shic Hong

World renowned liverwort botanist researcher and educator, Won Shic Hong, former Professor of biology, Doctor of Science Honoris Causa and Professor Emeritus at the University of Great Falls passed away unexpectedly Saturday, May 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Won Shic was born March 13, 1919 in Seoul, Korea, to Sung Juc Hong and Ok Pun Min. As the first Korean botanist to study the specialty of hepatics, he successfully established a cohesive understanding of research on liverwort flora in Korea. Through his work, he provided identification keys to 263 known or expected liverwort species in the Korean Peninsula.

In 1943, after graduating from Seoul National Normal College and Tokyo Education University, he started teaching in Seoul, Korea and held the position of chief editor of the Korean Botanical magazine in addition to acting as chairman of the Pre-Medicine Department at Korean Catholic Medical College. Upon receipt of his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Cincinnati in 1965 after three years of graduate studies, he returned to teaching as a professor of biology at the College of Great Falls in Montana.

Dr. Hong was a dedicated biology professor at the University of Great Falls for over 40 years until his retirement in 2003, earning numerous teaching awards and sharing his love of bryophytes with many students. In scores of field trips to the mountain ranges of western North America with UGF students, Dr. Hong catalogued thousands of liverworts and discovered six new species of liverworts. His collection of specimens is currently stored at the Hong Herbarium at UGF, comprising of more than 60,000 individual specimens of over 290 species. Between the years of 1956 to 2007, he authored and co-authored many publications in English, Korean, and Japanese and regularly attended the Annual Meeting of the Montana Academy of Sciences and the International Botanical Congress. His research and academic contributions continue to be of great importance to the international scientific community; the collection is maintained and made available through the time and effort of his granddaughter, Yoon-Hee Hong.

Upon the death of his youngest son in 2004, Dr. Pum-Hi Hong, Dr. Hong found peace spending time with God and devoted his efforts to organizing his specimen collection at the Hong Herbarium. While old age forced him and his wife to leave their home of 40 plus years in Great Falls and move to the Koreatown region of Los Angeles in 2010, he was able to end his days devoted to his work, collaborating with his granddaughter to provide use of his collection for future generations.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Kyong Hee Hong, daughter, Dr. Hee Ja (Dr. Chan Kee) Park of Troy, MI and sons, Dr. Ju-Hi (Jin-Hee) Hong of San Jose, CA, Hee (Sunwha) Hong of Plymouth, MN, Dr. Tu-Hi (Seung Hee) Hong of Visalia, CA and daughter-in-law, In Ae Hong of Yucaipa, CA. He was preceded in death by his son, Dr. Pum-Hi Hong of Omaha, NE.

His twelve grandchildren include Robert Woo Park, Dr. David Hong Park, Dr. Christine Chunghee Park, Timothy Sanguk Park, Dr. Gregory Kee-Bum Hong, Kee-Won Hong, Dr. Kee-Ju Hong, Yoon-Hee Hong, Dr. Michael Kee-Mun Hong, Jessica Kee-Young Hong, Julian Kee-Yun Hong and Danielle Hee-Jung Hong, as well as nine great-grandchildren.

At his request, his funeral service will be held in Great Falls, Montana on Saturday, May 17, 2014 at the Trinitas Chapel at UGF at 11 AM, with visitation one hour prior. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Memorials are suggested to the Tu-Hi Hong and Pum-Hi Hong Herbarium Fund, University of Great Falls, Great Falls, MT 59405.

Funeral Home

Schnider Funeral Home
1510 13th Street South Great Falls, MT 59405-4501
(406) 727-1368

Published in Great Falls Tribune from May 15 to May 16, 2014