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Remembering 'Mrs. Lee'

Pedestrian is killed in an accident on Taney Street.

When Jung Hee Yoon left for one of her daily walks before noon on April 29, it was a typical springtime day. The 87-year-old Korean woman loved to stroll through her west-side neighborhood from her house on Raleigh Street, and neighbors would see her making the rounds two or three times a day. Her small frame was hunched forward with her arms clasped behind her back, contemplatively taking in the scenery as she walked through the quiet neighborhood.

But her Friday afternoon stroll would be her last.

While crossing the 4500 block of Taney Street, she was struck by a FedEx truck, according to police. She was pronounced dead on arrival when she arrived at Inova Alexandria Hospital.

This is the second pedestrian traffic fatality this year. The first occurred on April 22 when a 52-year-old Alexandria man and his dog were killed while trying to cross Duke Street.

"MRS. LEE" was what her friends and neighbors called her, adhering to the Korean tradition of a woman taking her husband's surname. Her daily walks made her a fixture in the neighborhood, and people who live near the intersection of Jordan Street and Taney Street knew her well.

"I felt that it was her — when I heard the commotion outside I just knew it was Mrs. Lee," said Joann Edwards, who lives nearby. "I prayed that it wasn't her, but I knew it was."

Edwards remembers Mrs. Lee as a kind elderly woman who helped take care of her ailing baby while she was a struggling single mother.

"She would help watch my boy when he was tied up to all of the machines," Edwards said. "She would touch his feet because she knew that he liked that."

Edwards also remembers how Mrs. Lee's strong faith played an important role in her life.

"She was an awesome Christian," said Edwards. "She talked about the Bible every day."

IN 1988, she moved to Virginia from Seoul at a time when Asian economic crisis was creating severe hardships in South Korea. Mrs. Lee had been a widow since shortly after the Korean War, and she came to Virginia to live with one of her sons.

The next year, in 1989, she moved into her apartment on the 4300 block of Raleigh Street, where she lived until the accident.

"Every month, she would get a check from Social Security — but she would give most of it away to charity," said Kyu Lee, her son. "That's what kind of a person she was — very generous, very giving."

The charitable attitude carried over in her daily life.

"When people would buy her new clothes she would give them away and continue to wear her old clothes," he said. "When people would offer her food, she would say 'no' even though she was hungry because she did not want to be a burden or take what was not hers."

Lee said his mother's days in Korea were not easy.

"She worked very hard on the farm, very long hours," he said. "She never went to school, but she learned how to read and write in Korean and Chinese."

Mrs. Lee was a member of the Korean Central Baptist Church in Falls Church, and she was a devoted Christian.

"She read her Bible every morning," said Lee. "She was always talking to others about the Gospel."