DALLAS—Kyu Cho had a generous spirit and joyous belly laugh that delighted his friends. His wife, Cindy Cho, was quieter, described by those who knew her as sweet and kind. Together, the parents of two young sons complemented each other perfectly, strong in their faith and devoted to family and friends.
“That’s what I keep hearing in my head when I think of them: Just Kyu laughing so deeply and Cindy just kind of shaking her head and laughing along,” said their friend, Phyllis Myung. “Every interaction I ever had with them, we were always laughing so hard.”
Cindy and Kyu grew up in Texas. They met while pursuing their careers as young adults in Boston—hers as a dentist, his as an attorney. Wanting to be near their families, they decided it was time to return to Texas when they started a family of their own.
The couple and their sons—6-year-old William and 3-year-old James—were not far from their Dallas home when a gunman opened fire at an outdoor mall as they shopped earlier this month in the suburb of Allen. Kyu, 37, Cindy, 35, and James were among the eight people killed that sunny Saturday afternoon. The family’s only survivor was William, who was wounded.
Those killed represented a multicultural cross-section of the increasingly diverse area. Authorities haven’t yet established the motive of the gunman, who was killed by a police officer, but they have said he was a neo-Nazi who left a trail of online posts describing his white supremacist and misogynistic views.
The tragedy that befell the Cho family touched so many that a GoFundMe page quickly raised over $1.8 million before being closed. With William home from the hospital, family members said in a statement that they are focused on making sure he “leads a happy, healthy life with his extended family who love him dearly.”
Cindy and Kyu, who met through their Boston church, “really, really wanted to have kids,” Myung said.
“It was a common thing to see one of them holding one of the kids at our church,” said Myung, who worshipped with them in Boston. “They were really ready to be parents.”
Thomas Huang, another friend from their church, said the phrase that always came to mind when he would see Kyu and Cindy together was “relationship goals.”
“Even though Cindy was definitely a little bit more on the introverted side and Kyu was more extroverted, they kind of had this balance where it was like this perfect synergy of that energy,” Huang said.
For instance, he said, Kyu was more into dancing than his wife, but at their wedding, she worked to get people on the dance floor.
“She really made an effort to dance and kind of get people into it because she knew that Kyu loved to dance and wanted to get everyone involved and get everyone excited about it,” Huang said.
Both “had incredible strength,” he said, and were like older siblings to many.
“Everywhere they’ve gone, every stage of their lives, they’ve just impacted people in such deep and profound ways,” Huang said.
Kyu, who worked as an immigration attorney at Porter Legal Group, was born in South Korea and raised in Dallas, according to the law firm’s website, which said he had “a deep pride, respect, and appreciation for the American Dream.”
He graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2007, then graduated in 2010 from the Ave Maria School of Law in Florida, the website said.
Cindy, who grew up in College Station and Houston, graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in 2009, then graduated in 2013 from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry.
The dentistry school’s dean, Dr. Peter M. Loomer, said Cindy—whose name was Cindy Kang before she married, the name she went by when practicing dentistry —was “a kind and caring student, always doing the best to help improve the health and lives of her patients.”
A Facebook post from Thrive Dental and Orthodontics, where she once worked, said she was “the sweetest, most beautiful soul with the kindest heart.”
Growing up, Cindy loved reading and was serious-minded when she needed to be, said David Kim, whose family went to the same Korean church as her family in College Station. He said the families stayed close even when Cindy’s family moved to Houston, where they would still meet up for outings to places like the old AstroWorld amusement park.
“She’s just a sweet soul,” Kim said.
Kyu was not only skilled in the art of taekwondo but also could play everything from classical music to Coldplay on the piano, his friends said. Friend Young Min Kim said he was someone who could talk to anyone.
Adam Dame, Kyu’s roommate all four years at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said he knew within a week or two of meeting that he’d “hit the roommate lottery.” Kyu, he said, had an “infectious, big laugh.”
“I always wanted to make him laugh because I just loved hearing it,” Dame said. “He filled you with a lot of joy.”
Myung said both Kyu and Cindy worked to make sure people felt “included and cared for and seen.” She said that as she grieves, she comforts herself with the hope she will see her friends again in heaven.
“I think that’s the only thing that’s helping the grief, is to know that one day we’ll all be laughing together again,” Myung said.
By Jamie Stengle