Judge fond of time at Urbana High, dancing like Travolta

Judge fond of time at Urbana High, dancing like Travolta

Heading into the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation’s gala, we’ll catch up with five public school alumni set to be honored on March 30 at the I Hotel and Conference Center:

These days, he wears a black robe to work — the standard attire for municipal court judges in suburban Atlanta.

But once upon a time — long before he became the first Korean-American attorney to practice law in Georgia and the first Asian-American to sit on the bench in Gwinnett County — the HON. CHUNG HUN LEE's wardrobe looked like something straight out of "Saturday Night Fever," bell-bottom jeans and all.

Hey, it was the '70s.

"John Travolta was my man," he says. "I danced like John and won some dance contest making those young college ladies go wild when they saw me dance. Due to my flexibility, I could jump and spin 360 degrees with my spin kick in the air and land softly.

"I danced with my bell-bottom jeans. Now, I could not be caught dead with those jeans because I am overweight and it would be like Elvis splitting his pants when he sang for his audience."

Fifty years since he graduated from Urbana High, the dancing Duluth, Ga., associate judge will be back in town next weekend to be honored as one of three recipients of the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation's Distinguished Alumni awards.

Here's more from the Korea-born, Urbana-raised martial arts enthusiast:

CLASS ACT

"Delores Goodell was my U.S. history teacher, and what I remember about her was that she was very personal with her students, caring about us and even took me to her home to meet her family. She was the reason why I studied U.S. history as my major at the University of Illinois and pursued my legal career."

OFF THE FIELD

"I was a member of a cappella choir and since I love to sing, I had the most memorable time with my friends — especially one girl, Linda Hayes. She was so beautiful and I had her senior picture with me. I showed her senior picture to my (college) frat brothers, telling them that she was my girlfriend.

"Twenty years ago, we communicated with each other and she sent me her picture. She is still so beautiful. However, I could not accept her invitation to come and see her in Texas since I was married. I destroyed her picture since I could not show it to my wife."

ON THE FIELD

Despite "my size, I loved the contact sport football. I played for three years and even lettered. When I received my (varsity) letter from Coach Warren (Smith), he said to the audience that I was small but a very mean player. Maybe that is why I obtained my six-degree black belt in tae kwon do and won numerous first-place trophies in competition.

"I visited my high school last year to have a meeting with my classmates in preparation for the upcoming 50th reunion. I went to the door where I ran through with my football gear and helmet. I was (once) running late for practice and ran through the glass door that led to the field. That was very funny and we had a great laugh among ourselves that day."

ONE SHINING MOMENT

It happened "when Carol LeSeure, the teacher who was in charge of our Senior Night event, asked to me to prepare a speech on behalf of our class. I did not know whether I could perform since I have never appeared before an audience. I agreed to do it and due to this event, it gave me an inspiration to speak in front of an audience and perform without being so nervous or have fear.

"Two years ago, I received a gold medal for being an excellent lecturer, (as voted on by) judges and attorneys and selected by the Judicial Council of Georgia. I received this honor due to Ms. Carol LeSeure, who gave me an opportunity to speak before an audience."

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