SUWANEE - Won S. Lee, founder of the Korean-American Community Patrol in Suwanee, died of natural causes Saturday.
Lee was recognized by city officials last month for his dedication and service to the residents of Suwanee.
Suwanee police Chief Mike Jones, who honored Lee and members of his patrol last month, said, "These citizens step up and build bridges between the Korean-American community and the police department."
Lee and the Korean-American Patrol have acted as translators and cultural ambassadors, particularly where the police department is concerned.
Jones did not actually meet Lee formally until November 2006, although Lee and his patrol had been assisting residents in Suwanee for about 10 years.
"When the three young men were killed in an automobile accident here recently, the Korean-American Patrol were very helpful to us in understanding the families and people involved," Jones said.
The need for Lee's help brought the Suwanee police department and the Korean-American Patrol together.
"Because of his heart and his true desire to help the people of the community, I just fell in love with him right from the start. I'm really going to miss him, and I just wish I had known him longer," Jones said.
It is Jones' intent to strengthen the relationship between the city's police department and the Korean-American Patrol. Lee's daughter, Sue Chae, is supportive of the working relationship between the two organizations.
The Korean-American Patrol is an all-volunteer group of citizens.
"Lee was an American citizen and very proud of it, but he was also very proud of his heritage," Jones said.
Lee's funeral will be held today. Representatives from the Suwanee Police Department and the Doraville Police Department will be in attendance. Lee's organization has also worked with Doraville law enforcement officers to establish a working understanding of a growing Korean-American population.