Loving husband, steadfast father, devoted son, thoughtful brother, trustworthy friend, patient listener, soul provider, fix-it guy, home renovation manager, financial advisor, car seat installer, master BBQ chef, IT director, auto detailer, heavy lifter, long distance driver, clutter editor, diaper changer, math and science tutor, car enthusiast, foodie, world traveler, board game devotee… righteous, faithful, God-fearing…
David Oh was so many things to so many people.
Those who knew him will remember his sweet smile, his goofy laugh, his gentle and self-assured manner; his unshakable foundation – even amidst life’s adversities. Perhaps above all, David will best be remembered for his deep desire to serve and love others.
That servant heart took shape early in life. Even as a child, David was completely devoted. His mother remembers how much he thrived in his early days at Valley Christian School. When the time came for high school, she wanted to enroll him in public school, but David insisted on staying at Valley Christian. He thrived in an educational atmosphere that emphasized academics and spirituality. At UC Irvine, David’s faith grew even stronger, and after graduation, he told his mother he wanted to do missionary work as a Bible translator. She was shocked and disappointed, hoping he would aspire to become a successful engineer. But later she understood just how much her son loved doing God’s work.
David’s love for people, coupled with his adventurous spirit, took him across the globe to places like Japan, Bolivia, Haiti, Ghana and Brazil – a country he was passionate about. He traveled to Brazil several times in his 20s and 30s and loved everything about it – the sunny beaches, the lush rainforest, the sounds of Samba and Bossa Nova, the bold and complex flavors of the cuisine, and of course, the people – David was drawn to Brazil’s tight-knit, warm and loving culture. In fact, he loved Brazil so much he learned how to speak Portuguese. English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean – his mastery of languages went in that order.
When David met Shiho in 2015, they quickly bonded over two things they loved very much: God and food. David was pleased to learn Shiho loved to eat as much as he did. During their dates they shared bowls of naeng myun, kimchi jjigae and jjajangmyun, and plates of rib eye and bulgogi and sushi, and conversation always revolved around their shared faith, friends, and family. David also loved to cook as much as he loved to eat. The first time he met Shiho’s parents, he brought an industrial torch and his own ramekin dishes to make crème brulee. David impressed everyone with his culinary skills, which he got from his sister, Susie, who taught David about the joy of food and cooking.
On their first date after dinner at a Japanese restaurant, they wanted to continue talking at a coffee shop. Shiho shared with David about her living situation and told him, “I do have a roommate and she’s seven years old.” Rather than shying away from Shiho’s single motherhood, David was in awe of her strength and courage. Later that evening, he wrote in an email to her:
“I’m sad to hear that you went through such difficult trials in the past. I don’t fully know what you went through, but Christ knows. We have a living hope through Christ, in which we rejoice. It seems as though the testing of your faith did indeed produce inexpressible joy and a deeper, more profound love for Christ. I was really encouraged to see that. OK, enough preaching. I hope that encourages you. Have a blessed day! David.”
David didn’t say “I Love You” to any other woman except Shiho and proclaimed it to her on the day he proposed, on a sunny August afternoon at Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle.
On April 1, 2017, David and Shiho, self-professed “Fools in Love,” got married in a historic mansion in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in front of their closest friends and family. During the wedding ceremony, David gifted Ame, Shiho’s then 9-year-old daughter, a delicate gold necklace with three bird charms, representing Ame’s favorite song, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and symbolizing the three of them – David, Shiho, and Ame – an instant little family.
David took to fatherhood like a natural and soon he and Shiho welcomed two more girls into their family. Nami Hazel arrived on June 5, 2019 and Sora Astrid arrived on March 24, 2021. He was a hands-on dad, whether it was round-the-clock diaper duty or taking a child to the potty while they were out and about. David relished his role as a parent. Some of his favorite activities were taking Nami and Sora out in the red wagon and pushing them with all his might up the hilly streets of their Silver Lake neighborhood. During Ame’s elementary school’s annual derby car competition, David treated it like a very big deal. “Making a 6 oz derby car, what to do when you don’t have a scale?” he asked in an Instagram post. “You make your own!” That year, Ame’s derby car won, thanks to David’s ingenuity.
Their home was loud, lively and chaotically happy. Three generations – David and Shiho, Ame, Nami, Sora, and Shiho’s parents – living under the same roof. Juggling household responsibilities, running errands, sharing meals and celebrations and national holidays – David did it all with patience, kindness and joy.
David applied his penchant for strategy to his career and personal interests. He built a career in duty of others, serving as a Customs and Border Patrol Officer at San Ysidro/Otay Mesa port of entry, an Immigration Analyst for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and eventually worked his way up to his dream job as a Management and Program Analyst, also at USCIS. When he wasn’t at work, David utilized his strategic skills while playing board games like Risk, Catan, and Talisman. Once the game started, his friends remember a beast of a competitor and saw another side to him. No longer the mild-mannered David, he became a fierce challenger who would try to win at all costs. This enthusiasm revealed itself early, as a boy configuring Legos and playing with Hot Wheels every day after school with his sister and the Nguyens, and into adulthood – when David took on a karaoke mic he confidently and triumphantly belted his favorite song, “Starlight” by Muse, at the top of his lungs.
David was a man of many talents – he enjoyed racing his Subaru WRX, playing tennis, and shared a love of golf with his father. Every chance they got, David and his dad would visit the golf course to play, rain or shine. When his dad passed away last year, David posted a tribute on social media saying, “My heart is saddened that [my father] is no longer with us, but I have peace knowing that he is with Jesus with a new glorified body. I love you Dad. I will miss you.”
A loyal confidant, David is remembered as an encourager and supporter, checking in on friends, looking out for opportunities on behalf of others, and ever determined. One time, when he and his academy buddy Ray craved Korean food, they drove six hours from Glynco, Georgia to Atlanta just to eat kalbi. David was also the type of friend who saw a need even before being asked to help. He served at Dae Hueng Korean Presbyterian Church in Gardena for over 20 years, where congregants remember him as a talented musician playing guitar and drums in the praise band, heading mission trips, and leading youth worship. David loved music and sound and the study of audio so much that at almost every church he attended, he served as sound engineer – at DKPC, Crossway, Ecclesia and Christian Assembly.
“Why worship” – this was David’s rumination. In his phone, he wrote notes pointing to 2 Chronicles 5:13, “and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves be heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.’” David continues to reflect in his notes, “I see worship not just as a duty but as an expression of my love for God. I enjoy playing drums and keys to worship God myself and to help the congregation to worship God.”
David Oh was a treasure of a human being. He will be dearly missed and will live on in the hearts of those who loved him, especially in his children… particularly Nami – David’s little mini-me, his 붕어빵.
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