CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former Gazette reporter K.W. Lee is among the latest group to be recognized as distinguished alumni of West Virginia University.
Born in 1928, Kyung Won Lee came to the U.S. from Korea in 1950. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism at WVU and later a master's degree from the University of Illinois.
He focused on poverty and covered the civil rights movement for the Gazette in the 1960s.
A decade later, as a reporter for the Sacramento Union, he wrote a series of articles that helped lead to the acquittal of a Korean immigrant who had been wrongly condemned to die for a San Francisco murder.
In 1992, he was English editor of the Korean Times in Los Angeles when a riot erupted between Korean-Americans and African-Americans.
Lee, who lives in California, has received numerous journalism awards in his career, including the Asian American Journalists Association's first Lifetime Achievement Award, the John Anson Ford Award by the Human Relations Commission of Los Angeles County, and the Free Spirit Award from the Freedom Forum in 1994 -- making him the first Asian American to receive the award.
During his acceptance speech at WVU on Friday, Lee spoke fondly of his time at the Gazette and in West Virginia, saying "to come to know America, [people] have to come to know West Virginia."
He said he found "a boundless future" at the Gazette thanks to then-publisher W.E. "Ned" Chilton III.
"I left my heart and soul in the hollows and mountains of West Virginia," Lee said.
Lee was one of three honored by the WVU Alumni Association on Friday. The other inductees into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni were:
| Joel G. Newman, a native of West Mifflin, Pa., who is president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association, the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to representing business, legislative and regulatory interests of the animal feed industry and its suppliers.| Rouzbeh Yassini-Fard, who came to the U.S. from Iran in 1977, and is the founder and CEO of YAS Capital Partners LLC. He earned international recognition for his invention of the cable modem.