Senior Enoch Lee, talented musician and aspiring doctor, remembered for compassion
The “about me” box on Enoch Lee’s Twitter account reads, “I wanna save the world. Im a musician trying to become a doctor.”
This mindset holds fast in stories shared by Lee’s friends and family, who tell of a pre-med senior who would buy lunch and hot coffee for homeless individuals on Main Street and who never left a conversation without asking about the other person’s family.
Lee was killed early Friday in a collision in Pike Creek. At a candlelight vigil held Friday night on the steps of Memorial Hall, friends spoke of his empathic nature and warmth.
Senior Cliff Hegedus met Enoch as a freshman at Newark High School and the pair stayed close throughout college.
“It’s not just a cliché,” Hegedus said. “To almost a fault, he would put himself second. He was just one of those people. I don’t know if I’ve met anyone else—especially our age—that would legitimately care and go out of his way to make your life easier even if it made his life harder, and he would do it without a second thought.”
Lee was known to play his guitar in Trabant University Center or on The Green and would play guitar in the lobby of Christiana Hospital, where he volunteered for five years. When a patient with liver cancer married her fiancé in her hospital room, Lee was asked to provide the music.
Margarita Rodriguez-Duffy, director of visitor and volunteer services at Christiana Care, said Lee volunteered at the hospital since 2009. It “spoke volumes,” she said, that he thought to play in the lobby because he understood that the people entering the space could use the soothing sounds. She said Lee left those he encountered with the sense that they were glad they had met him.
A July article by Christiana Care News about their volunteers led with an image of Lee cutting an elderly blind woman’s food. In the piece, Lee is quoted saying volunteering taught him about meeting a person right where they are.
“I tell younger kids who volunteer to keep their eyes and ears open, because you never know what’s going to touch you,” he said in the feature. “The world needs more people to empathize with others.”
Lee took advantage of every opportunity he had to get to know others and to make them feel personally attended to, said Lee’s girlfriend, junior Connie Chen.
“I feel like somehow he knew life is really short, and he wanted to make an impact,” she said. “Everytime he saw someone, he would ask, ‘How’s your family, how’s Joe?’ He would remember specific things about peoples’ lives.”
Lee’s father is the pastor at Korean Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, and his faith was central to him, she said. At one point, he led the youth group and sang in the choir. He did a lot for his parents and for the church, Chen said.
“I know that he said that when he had hard times, that’s how he would get through it,” Chen said. “By just believing.”
Lee had told Chen that this past year had been the happiest of his life.
The pair started dating last year, but they first met in elementary school, Chen said. Lee was performing at an event that Chen was dancing at, and at that event Lee ended up dedicating a song to her and serenading her.
Lee was on the executive board of MedLife, a medical service group with which he volunteered in Ecuador, a member of Making Doctors and a former singer with the Golden Blues. Lee also taught English at a Korean School in Pennsylvania this summer.
In addition to his musical abilities, Lee was also accomplished academically and had endeared himself to his professors during his time at the university. Carlton Cooper, a biology professor who knew Lee through a lab course, said Lee brought a light atmosphere to the classroom and was a pleasure to have around.
Cooper said most of the time he has to ask students to go help others, but Lee would jump at the opportunity without needing encouragement. He also said Lee’s absence would be a gaping hole for the class because of the presence and charisma he brought to class.
“Even after class, if I ran into him, we would talk and joke around like we had known each other for a while,” he said. “Very rarely do you see a student who is able to communicate like that. Very casual, no airs, no pretending […] it is going to be very tough.”
As a volunteer, Lee showed himself to be a caring, compassionate young man of integrity who left an impact on all he met at Christiana Care, Rodriguez-Duffy said.
“He will be remembered by his caring spirit and there was no stranger that he met that did not leave feeling like they were his friend, and that was a gift that not all of us have,” Rodriguez-Duffy said. “I am thankful that he shared his talents with not only us but with many others, and that the impact in his young life will be felt for many, many years to come.”
Lee is survived by his parents and brother Joseph Lee, a freshman at the university. Joseph’s message to Enoch is a simple one.
“I love you.”
Matt Butler contributed to the reporting of this article.