Chong Ik So, 51, supermarket owner, active in local Korean civic affairs

July 03, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Chong Ik So, who was active in local Korean business and civic affairs, died Friday at Howard County General Hospital. He was 51 and lived in Ellicott City.

He had been ill for several months with liver cancer.

Mr. So and his wife of more than 20 years, Ok Hwa So, owned and operated the Food City supermarket in the 4000 block of Park Heights Ave.

"It's a great loss to the Korean community," a friend, Dr. Yusang Chung, said of Mr. So's death.

Mr. So was born in the state of Kyung Sang Nam Do in southeast South Korea. He earned a college degree in agriculture in Seoul and served in the Korean army.

He and his wife came to the United States in February 1976 and eventually settled in Baltimore and bought the Food City store 13 years ago.

"When they bought it, it was dying and they worked very hard to bring it up," said Mr. So's sister, Won Cha Shake of Baltimore. "He was very kind and good to people."

"He was a very generous and important person in the community," said Dr. Chung, a former professor of economics at Goucher College and the University of Baltimore. "I can only praise him as a hard-working man of integrity."

Mr. So was a member of the board of directors of the Korean Society of Maryland, the Korean Businessmen's League and the Korean Language Institute, where he taught his native tongue. He was a former president of the Young Nam Provincial League.

Last fall, he was elected to a two-year term as the first president of the newly formed Maryland chapter of KAGRO-USA -- the national Korean-American Grocers Organization.

The state chapter of KAGRO resulted from the merger of three groups: the Korean Grocers' Association, the Korean Liquor Association and the Korean Supermarket Association, which Mr. headed.

"He played a very important role in putting them together and so became their first president," Dr. Chung said.

Mr. So was a member of the Phillipo Korean Presbyterian Church in Ellicott City and enjoyed golf.

Funeral services were held yesterday .

Other survivors include a son, Brian H. So of Ellicott City; his mother, Du Pok So of Baltimore; and two brothers, Chong Il So of Timonium and Chong Su So of Fort Worth, Texas.

` Pub date: 07/03/96

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