UC Berkeley junior George Shum dies at 20, remembered for kindness

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FEBRUARY 01, 2015

UC Berkeley junior George Shum, known for his kindness and willingness to help others, died last week.

Shum, 20, died Jan. 25 of what his personal doctor described as natural causes, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau. He had been studying economics and hoped to minor in computer science.

His friends described him as exceptionally caring, often going out of his way to assist others. Mario Lin, a UC Berkeley junior who met Shum in high school, said Shum once drove over from Oakland on short notice to help Lin fix his computer.

“He worked really hard, and if you ever needed help or anything, you could call him up and he would come,” Lin said. “He came over just to help me out, and it was in the spur of the moment.”

Lin recalled that during one of the last times they hung out, shortly before Shum’s death, Shum had helped him pay for his meal.

“We went to Chipotle, and I didn’t have any money on me so he spotted me,” Lin said. “And I just feel like I still owe him that money.”

Shum liked to play tennis and golf and had started weightlifting after Lin introduced him to it. Lin said that although he advised Shum to branch out, Shum liked working on his biceps best, sometimes comparing his arms to his friend’s.

Patrick Huang, a UC Berkeley junior who met Shum freshman year, also noted Shum’s affinity for going to the gym, saying that his friend often invited him along — sometimes to no avail.

“He was very determined,” Huang said. “He started working out last semester and got me to work out with him, but I wasn’t as determined as him … During (freshman year) we had 8 a.m. Math 1B class. I feel like he showed up more than me, even though he commuted.”

When approached for help with a problem, Shum would stick around and try to solve it if he didn’t know the answer, Huang said.

Shum lived in Oakland and commuted to Berkeley. According to his sister, UC Berkeley alumna Jiayin Shum, George frequently volunteered at soup kitchens and awareness events throughout high school.

She called George her “best friend” growing up and said he would tell her jokes when she was stressed.

“We did (everything) together with my older sister,” Jiayin Shum said in an email. “People called us the three musketeers. Since little, we made a pact to go to the same college and that came true.”

UC Berkeley junior Bill Wu, who played the violin with George Shum in orchestra before they went to college, also commuted to UC Berkeley and said he would look for where Shum parked to try to park near him every day.

“He was just really cool. If I had something to say, he would listen and give his 2 cents,” Wu said. “If we were with other people, he would try to talk to everybody.”

Recently, they went to Union City, where Shum encouraged him to climb to the the top of a pyramid structure — but Wu climbed down midway. Next time, Wu said, he will climb to the top for Shum.

Contact Melissa Wen at 


FEBRUARY 02, 2015