He moved to Washington after his college graduation in 1990, and he briefly worked for the CIA. Then he became a speechwriter and policy adviser for prominent conservatives, including then-Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.), televangelist Pat Robertson and former education secretary William J. Bennett.
Former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, another up-and-coming young activist of the era, recalled collaborating with Mr. Kuo on speeches and books during the 1990s.
“David had one of the most brilliant minds I ever encountered,” said Reed, who now heads a political organization called the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “David loved others because God first loved him, and that included those who did not share his political or theological views, as well as the poor, the marginalized, the outcast and the vulnerable.”
Mr. Kuo had left the political world by the late 1990s, and he became a public relations executive at Value America, a Charlottesville-based online retailer of computers, office products and consumer goods. He was motivated by the promise of its rising stock price, getting in at $72 a share and “assuming it was still going to go to $100,” he later wrote.
Moreover, the company seemed to share his moral values. It promised to return 1 percent of its revenue to charities and was a place where daily morning prayer sessions were welcomed. The Rev. Jerry Falwell made frequent visits, and Bennett was a board member.
The company, founded by Craig Winn, soared briefly in the late 1990s before plummeting into bankruptcy. Mr. Kuo’s 2001 book, “Dot.Bomb: My Days and Nights at an Internet Goliath” (2001) was about his loss of faith in corporate America and Wall Street. He described needless internal bickering at Value America that caused customers to flee.
“I saw great things there, people professing devotion,” he once told The Washington Post, “and then I saw people turn on each other. I saw godly people do very ungodly things. It was this unbelievably tangled web of personalities and emotions and everything else.”
Not long afterward, he became a domestic policy aide at the Bush White House.
‘A sad charade’
Mr. Kuo learned that he had a brain tumor on Palm Sunday 2003, after he suffered a seizure while driving on Rock Creek Parkway in Washington. He wrote in “Tempting Faith” that his wife “grabbed the wheel and somehow managed to jerk the SUV, which was going eighty miles an hour, to the left so we wouldn’t crash through the rock barriers and into the creek below.”
Later that year, Mr. Kuo left the White House — in part because of his health and in part because he believed his work had become, as he described in his memoir, “a sad charade, to provide political cover to a White House that needed compassion and religion as political tools.”
After leaving the White House, Mr. Kuo moved to Charlotte in 2009.
His first marriage, to Jerilyn Scott, ended in divorce. Besides his wife, the former Kimberly McCreery, survivors include two daughters from his first marriage; two children from his second marriage; and his parents.
Mr. Kuo continued to write, and he became, among other things, a professional bass fisherman.
His mortality was a frequent subject of his commentary. He described, in unsparing terms, how his cancer was advancing. But he also marveled at his new appreciation for such moments as lying on his back on the family’s trampoline and watching the sky, which he described as “perfection.”
And then there was his Facebook posting on Jan. 30.
“Headed over to ucla for surgery — kicks off at 830 local,” Mr. Kuo wrote. “Favor? Do something outrageous today — give way more than reasonable to a homeless person, take the family out for an ice cream dinner. . . . And serve only ice cream, call someone you hurt and ask forgiveness, call someone who hurt you and give forgiveness . . . And send me a pic.”
One after another, the photos began filling his Facebook page — many of them the faces of children delighted at the unexpected treat of having ice cream, only ice cream, for dinner.