Daughter found her father on Yongsanlegacy.org

Contributor: Mr. Nam SangSo

My name is Daphne Cheesman. I googled my father and came across an article about my father on yongsanlegacy.org. I would very much like to communicate with you.   Sincerely, Daphne.

Topic: architecture, construction, People
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Gifford Cheesman, a native of England, first came to Korea with his father in 1931. He was 23 years old. His father was a gold miner in the current North Korea. Gifford joined Seoul Club as a founding member, then returned to England. And came back to Korea after the Korean War was over and received the Alien Registration Card #1.

He joined Trans-Asia Engineering Associates, Inc. in mid 1960s as an administrator when the American architect/engineering firm was located in the Building 1510 in the Main Post, U.S. Army Yongsan Garrison. Gifford had a daughter who went to the United States with her mother when she was a teenager some time in 1971. And somehow Gifford has lost contact with his wife and daughter.

The British gentleman, who was a good friend of Mr. Kyu Lee, the last prince of Korea, and mine, died in February 1985 at the age 77. He was buried at Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery, Seoul. We were unable to contact his family.

On Chuseok Day in 2018, I placed a bouquet of flower at his tomb stone, and posted an article “Gifford Cheesman at Building 1510, Yongsan Garrison” on the yongsanlegacy.org.  And in July 2019, I received an email from a woman named Daphne Cheesman.  Here are some of our emails we have exchanged which have been consolidated and rearranged in order to protect Cheesman’s privacy.

Dear Sir,

My name is Daphne Cheesman. I googled my father and came across an article about my father on yongsanlegacy.org. I would very much like to communicate with you.   Sincerely, Daphne.

In the emails that followed, she said: “I lived in New York City for 15 years before I moved to Los Angeles in 1987. This truly is a miracle I was able to contact you…”.

Daphne has written several more emails to me telling about the stories of her mother and relatives including some of the family photos (I skip them here as they appear to be private)

This was one of my replies to Ms. Daphne Cheesman in a digest version;

Dear Daphne,

“Today I brought a small pot of flower and placed by the gave stone of your father. And, spoke to him that I’m being connected with your daughter Daphne. Your daughter is well and looking after her elder mother, your wife, in Los Angeles. And as you can guess, Daphne and her mother miss you.”

In another email;

Dear Daphne,

A year ago, I visited the same granite stone and I thought it’s good time to visit him again. The cemetery was quiet and the July rain started to sprinkling on my way home. I just wanted to let you and your mother know.    Nam, Seoul, July 11

Then she replied;

Dear Nam,

My mother and I are so grateful that you have visited my fathers’ grave and placed a flower pot. We are so happy.  Thank you, thank you, you are wonderful, Nam.  …. By the way, my mother was so grateful towards my father, when the Korean War broke out, he came and picked her up and went to a Korean port to board a Greek ship set to sail to Japan. That’s where I was born and came back to Korea when I was 10 years old. We certainly have a fascinating story to tell, it should be made into a movie.  Daphne. 12 July

So, that’s how she has got a Greek name Daphne, a minor figure in Greek mythology of Apollo and Daphne.

The writer (sangsonam@gmail.com) had served as an architect/engineer for the U.S. Army Yongsan Garrison, K-6 (Camp Humphreys) and other U.S. Military Camps in Korea for 25 years.