Father, grandfather, engineer, skier, hiker.Born June 6, 1928, in Seoul, died Dec. 26, 2011, in Toronto of stomach cancer, aged 83.
Taeman Deyong saw a lot: from donkey carts crowding the dirt roads in his village just outside Seoul to traffic jams on Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway.
He was the first son of eight siblings whose Korean ancestors included the famous poets and scholars Song Kang and Wu Am.
During the latter years of the Second World War, Taeman had to help dig air-raid trenches in Japanese-occupied Korea. During the Korean War, he served as interpretor for the U.S. Engineering Corps while attending Seoul University.
After the war, Taeman was admitted to Johns Hopkins University on a scholarship. However, his friend John Maxted, a United Nations engineer, persuaded him that Canada was a better country – a young, vast open land.
Taeman chose Canada, even though it meant he had to get financial help from his father, and in 1954, he and John both went to the University of Toronto for masters engineering degrees.
For a summer job, Taeman worked as a surveyor on the section of the Trans-Canada Highway at Antigonish, N.S.
His adventures there included a hurtling, out-of-control descent down the steep side of an abandoned mountain logging road, which nearly killed him and a young Linden MacIntyre. But both got out of the battered car, dusting themselves off with very nervous laughter. Much later, Linden went to work for the CBC.
In 1959, Taeman returned to Korea, where he met his wife, Myung Sook Park. In 1961, he brought her to Canada and they settled in Toronto, where they raised their two children, Louis and Sarah.
Toronto was in a building boom and there was plenty of work for engineers. He participated in the design of the first Yonge subway line, the O’Keefe Centre, and numerous high-rises and schools throughout the city.
In 1968, Taeman left the venerable engineering firm of Granek & Assoc. to start his own company, Deyong Engineering Inc. He was very actively involved with his work, and having his own company suited his interactive nature, allowing him to meet all sorts of people.
One contact led to a trip to Tuktoyaktuk because the acquaintance, an air-conditioning salesman, was also a polar-bear fur trader. As a fan of the practical joke, Taeman purchased at the souvenir shop a diploma from the University of Tuktoyaktuk, conferring on himself a PhD in “Good Life Management.”
Thus was born the Grand Poobah Emeritus of the Good Life Management Club, a spirited group in Markham, Ont., with whom Taeman and his wife went on skiing adventures.
Taeman was also active in the Arirang Hiking Club, and very faithful to their 20-kilometre Saturday hikes on Ontario’s Bruce Trail. Taeman kept working and hiking until he no longer could. He was an optimist by nature, but also a realist who believed you did what you could do. He faced cancer with courage, often saying that if it was time to go, it was time to go.
His positive thinking affected us all. He is missed by his family and friends.
Myung Sook Park Deyong is Taeman’s wife.