Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What happened to Timothy J. Warnberg (1954 - 1993)?

In September 1982, I started Level 3 classes at the Yonsei Korean Language Institute in Seoul, Korea. In a Level 6 class, there was a young man about my age who I was told was quite fluent in Korean. The person who told me gave me an example of how fluent he was, but I cannot remember what the example was. Anyway, I got to hear the guy speak Korean at his graduation ceremony, and he seemed pretty fluent to me, especially since I had just finished the Level 3 courses. The guy's name was Tim Warnberg, an ex-Peace Corps volunteer who was an eyewitness to atrocities committed during the Kwangju Uprising.

I got to talk to Tim before he left to study at the University of Hawaii, but we did not talk about Kwangju because I was more curious to know how he learned to speak the Korean language so well. I was hoping he could give me some tips on studying the language. I do not remember what he told me, but I do remember being impressed by him, and I remember him being a nice guy. At the time, he was my idol in the sense that I wanted to learn to speak Korean as well as he did.

After Tim left Korea, I never heard anymore about him, which surprised me because he seemed like someone who would become well-known in the field of Asian Studies. I kind of expected him to get a professorship at some university, maybe even the University of Hawaii, but he just seemed to disappear until a 1987 article entitled "The Kwangju Uprising: An Inside View," by Tim Warnberg.

After that article, Tim Warnberg really did seem to just disappear. I do not know of anything else that he wrote. I assumed that he got a job with some US government agency and just disappeared into the system.

A few years back I did a computer search on Tim Warnberg and found something to make me think he had died, but nothing else. Tonight I did another search and found that he did, indeed, die on February 7, 1993 at the age of 38. The only thing I was able to find was part of an obituary from the February 8, 1993 edition of the "St. Cloud Times" of Saint Cloud, Minnesota.
1954, in Brainerd to Chuck and Lorraine Warnberg. He was a 1973 graduate of Brainerd High School, a graduate of the University of Morris, University of Hawaii and was working on his PHD under a fellowhip at University of Hawaii. He was in the Peace Corps in South Korea for three years with one year at a leprosy village and taught at the University of Yonsei-Seoul. Survivors include his parents; sisters and brothers, Roxanne Wilson, Sartell; Susan Silvernale, Lakeville; Lisa Tuomi, Brainerd; Todd, Antwerp, Belgium; Tom, Barron, Wis.; and Dave, Sacramento, Calif. He was preceded in death by a brother, Jeffrey. The family requests no flowers. Burial will be Oakhill Cemetery, Sartell.
It is sad to think that the only thing left to remember Tim Warnberg are the memories of his friends and family and an article he wrote in 1987, even though it was a very good article.

P.S. I found additional information on Tim Warnberg:
Tim Warnberg
Class of 1973
Passed Feb 07, 1993
Tim died of Aids. He used his illness as an education tool for others. He spoke at workshops about Aids & how it has affected him."
The following is an apparent scan from what I have read was a Peace Corps yearbook or something

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