Yong Man Lee, having lived a full and fruitful life, passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by loved ones on March 2. He was 78.
Born on April 30, 1944, in Daegu, South Korea, he was the youngest of five children. At an early age, he excelled at martial arts, winning the National Middleweight Judo Championship in 1963.
After graduating from the Korean Judo College in 1965, he was appointed Judo and Self-Defense Instructor at the Korean C.I.C., the Intelligence Service of the Korean Special Army.
He later became a judo and tae kwon do instructor at the 8th U.S. Army Headquarters in Korea. Following his appointment as chief judo instructor at the Seoul Central YMCA, he traveled to El Salvador and Guatemala, where he demonstrated judo and karate theory and application, and presented an honorary black belt to the president of El Salvador.
He later rose to the ranks of grand master earning his 9th degree black belt in tang soo do, and an 8th degree black belt in both judo and hapkido.
While working at Seoul Central YMCA, he met his wife of 36 years, Bong Ja Kim. He and “BJ” embarked on the American dream, moving to the U.S. to start a business opening Lee’s School of Judo, Karate and Hapkido in Darien in 1975.
They soon settled in Wilton, where they raised two sons, Bruce and Scott Lee. He resided in Wilton for 40 years and taught at his school up until his health allowed him for 36 years.
Grand Master Lee will be remembered by thousands of his students for his profound wisdom and life changing impact. His school continues to be run by his devoted students.
His loved ones will never forget his gentleness, deep compassion, and devotion to family.
He leaves behind his two sons and daughters-in-law, Bruce and Cynthia Lee, and Scott and Wendy Lee; along with four grandchildren, Samantha, Tyson, Dylan and Abigail, all of whom reside in Wilton.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at Saint Catherine of Siena Church in the Riverside section of Greenwich at 11 a.m., Friday, March 10, 2023, in honor of Master Lee.
— an obituary from Hoyt Funeral Home, where online condolences may be left