Korean American icon Susan Ahn Cuddy dies aged 100

June 26, 2015
Susan Ahn Cuddy celebrates her 99th birthday with the 3.1 Women's Association last year. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

Susan Ahn Cuddy, center, celebrates her 99th birthday with the 3.1 Women’s Association last year. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

By Park Ju-yeon

Susan Ahn Cuddy, daughter of South Korean independence icon Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, died inside her Los Angeles home Wednesday aged 100.

The family said she died in her sleep around 1 p.m.

As the eldest daughter of Ahn Chang-ho’s three sons and two daughters, Cuddy was born in Los Angeles in 1915.

Cuddy did not live in the shadow of her father’s legacy — as the first female gunnery officer in the U.S. Navy, as the first Asian American woman to join the Navy, and later as the first Korean American in U.S. Naval Intelligence, Cuddy broke as many grounds.

She would go on to work as a Navy intelligence officer and for the National Security Agency.

As a leader and activist, she lent her hand to the Young Korean Academy and the 3.1 Women’s Association in the USA.

Even before her death, her life was a celebrated one, from the Asian American Justice Center of Washington D.C.’s American Courage Award to the designation of March 10 as Susan Ahn Cuddy Day by Los Angeles County.

She spoke about being torn apart from her father in 1926 at age 11 with the Korea Times in an interview last year.

Ahn, remembered as a key Korean independence activist, was a leader of the early Korean American community. Because of his travels abroad in independence efforts, to Shanghai, Hawaii and Mexico, Cuddy did not have the chance to spend much time with him.

The Ahn family, with Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, second from left, and Susan Ahn Cuddy, second from right

The Ahn family, with Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, second from left, and Susan Ahn Cuddy, second from right

“I always think of my father’s advice to be honest and have lived trying my best to regard everything with honesty,” she said. “I work hard to become a person who contributes to the U.S., as I was born here, but I cannot forget my roots as a Korean.”

Cuddy told the Korea Times last year that the most memorable moment of her life was Korean independence on August 15, 1945, the same moment her father — who died before the fall of Japanese colonialism — had worked toward his entire life.

“The reason I did not forget I was a Korean person even while living in the U.S. was because of my father’s request that I not forget my ‘Korean mind,’” Cuddy said last year. “If my father were alive, he would have said to me, ‘The South and North are divided. Shouldn’t you do something to help reunification efforts?’”

She had one son, Philip Cuddy, and one daughter, Christine Cuddy, with Frank Cuddy, an NSA codebreaker.

“My mother has always been proud of her Asian heritage and, as a courageous woman, has never been afraid of jumping into a man-centric world,” Philip Cuddy said.

2 Comments

  1. Younghyun Kim

    June 27, 2015 at 2:54 AM

    As a weak worldling, I would like to offer my sincere condolences or sympathy to all her the bereaved family. We must emulate her virtues in terms of she did not live in the shadow of her father’s legacy and she did not forget her roots as a korean. At this same confused moment and in that conflicts-stricken society’s mood, if we were one of key korean independence activists like “Dosan, Ahn Changho”, what should we do and what would have handed down any kind of legacy to future generations or descendants?

    This weak and uneducated world worldling has no choice but to await you all’s constructive and considerable reply. Good luck to your forlorn korean peninsula and May she rest in peace!

    2015. 06. 27. in Seoul from Younghyun Kim

  2. Pingback: Hundreds turn out to pay last respect to Susan Ahn Cuddy – The Korea Times

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