Kwan Rim

Kwan Rim


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Obituary of Kwan Rim

Kwan Rim, age 83, of 604 Granada Court, Iowa City, died Sunday, March 4, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea.

Funeral services will be held at 12 noon on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at the First Presbyterian Church in Iowa City, with burial to follow at the Oakland Cemetery.  Visitation will be from 7 to 9 pm Monday at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service.  To share a thought, memory or condolence with his family please visit the funeral home website @

Dr. Rim was born in 1934 in South Korea.  He was the eldest child of Il-Sik Rim and Hyeon-Jeo Ryu.  He was a graduate of Seoul High School and began his college education studying Mechanical Engineering at Seoul National University. In 1953 he moved to the United States to complete his studies.  In 1960, he earned a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Northwestern University and then started a long and productive relationship with the University of Iowa.

Over the next thirty five years, Dr. Rim held a number of key positions within the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa.  He started as a Professor of Mechanics & Hydraulics in 1960 and then became the department chair in 1972.  Dr. Rim, along with other University of Iowa faculty at the time, participated and contributed to the U.S. space program (including Project Apollo).  In 1974, he founded one of the first biomedical engineering programs at a public institution in the U.S. and served as a professor and its department chairman in the years that followed.  During his long tenure at the University of Iowa, he also served as the Chairman of the Division of Materials Engineering and the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering. In 2014 the College of Engineering inducted him as a member of the Legacy of Iowa Engineering for having "created a remarkable interdisciplinary vision with a University of Iowa orthopaedic surgeon on the biomechanics of hands and feet to rehabilitate injured patients.  That moment evolved into the formation of one of the earliest biomedical engineering programs in a public institution in the U.S. in 1974.  Through Dr. Rim’s breakthrough leadership, the program has become one of the nation’s most prestigious and largest, and today continues to be an inspiring catalyst to join all engineering disciplines with human health and saving lives."

Throughout Dr. Rim’s career, he was devoted to helping and inspiring others through his research, teaching, and leadership — whether as a mentor or supervisor, or as an administrator and executive. Core to his vision was to build new and lasting connections between the country of his birth, South Korea, and other countries, including the U.S.  In 1976, with the support of the National Science Foundation, he traveled to South Korea and was a visiting professor at the Korea Advance Institute of Science and (KAIS, which later became KAIST).  Between 1982 and 1984, he returned to serve as its President and in 2003 the Chairman of its board of directors.  Over time, this work helped nurture and maintain the strong academic ties between South Korea and the University of Iowa as well.  In recognition for his contribution towards the education of Korean engineers and the advancement of Korean science and technology, he was awarded the Order of Civil Merit, class 5, Seokryu Medal in 1980 and the Order of Civil Merit, class 2, Moran Medal in 1984 by the government of South Korea.

In 1995, Dr. Rim took an extended leave of absence from the University of Iowa and returned to South Korea to become the President of the Samsung Advanced Institute Technology, the Samsung Group’s core R&D center, and later became its Chairman.  During this period he was also Chairman of the Science and Technology Planning Committee and a member of the National Science and Technology Council of the Republic of Korea.  In 2004, he was awarded an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his dedication to the improvement of the relations between South Korea and the U.K.  Towards the end of his career, Dr. Rim returned to academia to serve as the Chairman of Sungkyunkwan University.  He retired in 2012.  Over the decades of his professional activity, thousands of students, engineers, and scientists, and dozens of institutions have benefited from Dr. Rim’s efforts and support.

Dr. Rim was a devoted family man.  As a son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather he served as a foundation of strength, support, and inspiration for four generations, always with generosity, compassion, and good humor. He helped his family and others with the aim of empowering them to help themselves.  He lived his life fulfilling his duty and helping others fulfill theirs. He was a man of faith which sustained the hope and optimism that girded the many times in his life that things didn’t go as planned. He is survived by his sons and their wives, Albert and Janet, who live in Hong Kong, and Christopher and Christina, who live in Washington; and his daughter and her husband, Joanne and Patrick, who live in New Jersey; and his grandsons Paul and Michael; and his granddaughters Samantha, Kayla, Stella, and Cecilia; his brothers Kirk and Kurt Rim, and sisters Jean Kee and Kay Shynn, nephews Alexander Rim, Scott Rim, Raymond Shynn, and nieces Alice Rim, Patricia Rim, Sharon Rim, Joan Kee, Janice Shynn Yeoh, and Nicole Rim. He was married to his beloved wife of forty years, Jean, until her death in 2003.








7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Monday, March 12, 2018
Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service
2720 Muscatine Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa, United States

Funeral Service

12:00 pm
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
First Presbyterian Church
2701 Rochester Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa, United States


Oakland Cemetery
1000 Brown Street
Iowa City, Iowa, United States