Cover photo for Bongok Cho Lee's Obituary
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1939 Bongok 2023

Bongok Cho Lee

March 21, 1939 — July 6, 2023

Bongok “Bonnie” Lee passed away peacefully on July 6, 2023 in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Born in Seoul, Korea on March 21, 1939, Bongok’s life was a testament to her passion for the arts, her love for her family, and her zest for life. 

 She is survived by her daughter Miran Barry, son Gene Lee, son-in-law Michael Barry, daughter-in-law Deborah Nagan-Lee, her two beloved granddaughters, Hannah and Sophie, and her brother, Woong Cho.

 Bongok earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at the prestigious Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea. After moving to the United States, she earned her Master’s degree in Art History at the University of Wyoming.

 Bongok’s passion for art led her to a successful 30-year career at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City where her creativity and unique perspective on art were invaluable. She dearly loved her time at MoMA and her colleagues cherished her friendship, vivacious spirit, singular style and unwavering dedication to her work.

 An ardent opera and classical music enthusiast, she often attended live performances in the city. Bongok loved entertaining guests with her wit, humor, and delicious food. She had a deep appreciation for her Korean heritage, and frequently shared her skills in Korean interpretation.

 Bongok had a knack for storytelling and delighted in sharing tales from her life and experiences with friends and family. Her creativity was always evident, from her work at MoMA, to her wardrobe and the way she decorated her home, to writing her newspaper column, which was later compiled into a book.

 Above all, Bongok adored her granddaughters, Hannah and Sophie. They were her greatest joy and she loved spending time with them, teaching them about art and music, and passing on her love of Korean culture.

 Bongok “Bonnie” Lee will be remembered for her vibrant spirit, creative mind, and warm, loving heart. She will be deeply missed by family and friends, but her memory will live on in the stories she told, the art she created, and the love she shared.

 A memorial celebration is planned for the fall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bongok’s name to New York Foundation for the Arts ( ) or Korean Cultural Center New York ( ).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bongok Cho Lee, please visit our flower store.


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