Perpetual Scholarship Fund
The PSF got its start in 1983 with a no-strings-attached donation of $2000 from Mr. MG Tshi of Hong Kong. This generous gift prompted some forward-thinking Wa Sung members to establish the PSF to provide a steady funding source for our Merit Scholarships, special projects, and educational grants. At the same time, it provides a vehicle for donors to endow trust funds, whether in recognition of living individuals or in memory of their departed loved ones. A minimum contribution of $10,000 is required to set up a trust fund. The By-laws require that all contributions be retained in perpetuity as principal, with only earnings from interest, dividends or capital gains to be disbursed for the designated programs.
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As of now, the following named endowment funds have been created through the generosity of members or friends of the Wa Sung Community Service Club:
Richard & Doris Wong Lee, Business
In 1931, during the Depression, Richard Lee arrived in the United States of America. After working a series of part time jobs, Richard took a bus with 40 other men, standing all the way, from San Francisco to King City, to work the farmlands of Watsonville. After the harvest season, and unable to find work, Richard went to school for 1 year. One of Richard's proudest accomplishments was when he joined the Army and graduated from the United States Army School of Finance without a college education. At that time, it was mandatory to have a minimum of a two-year college education before being accepted in the program. At twenty, Richard left the farming towns and worked at the Cypress point Club, an exclusive and exciting place to work wages were $2.00 per day plus tips. In 1939, Richard moved to Oakland, and was one of seven waiters at the Good Earth Cafe where he learned to speak English and business management. In 1957, a lucky $10 Keno ticket form Harrahs paid $25,000 - Richard parlayed it to $225,000, and established the House of Lee on Fruitvale near Foothill Boulevard one of the first elegant/fancy Chinese restaurants in Oakland. From there, his legacy included King Richards Night Club on Broadway near Jack London Square, and a 27 year contract with first Harolds Club, and then Harrahs, which made Lee Tours a household name in Oakland. Richard's generosity extended beyond local community groups. In memory of his mother and first wife and Sun Cheun, Toi San, his birthplace, Richard Financed the construction of an elementary school, a junior high school and community library. Richards' ever-present compassion led to his directing his finances to assist others so they could gain an education and be given an opportunity that was not available to him when he came to the United States. Richard was proud of his family and their accomplishments and his philosophy was "be honest, be friendly and work hard when there is an opportunity."
Joseph S. Lee and Dr. Janet Lee
As a teenager, Joe played third base on the Wa Sung Athletic Club Baseball team. With the advent of World War II, the club became inactive. After the war, a group of former members approached Joe, the Principal of Lincoln Elementary School, to consider reactivating the Wa Sung Club. From those conversions, the Wa Sung Service Club was formed in 1953, with Joe elected as the first President. A few years later, in 1957, the Easter Pancake Breakfast was initiated as a fundraiser borrowing stoves from the Central Oakland Kiwanis Club which were later given to Wa Sung when the Kiwanis Club disbanded and are still being used today! Joseph S. Lee worked with the Oakland Public Schools for 43 years his first 10 years, he was a classroom teacher and then for the next 33 years, he served as principal at seven Oakland Public Schools McFeeley and Willow Manor Elementary School, Lincoln School, Golden Gate Elementary and Junior High School, Westlake and, Elmhurst Junior High School and Far West High School and became the 1st Asian Administrator in the Oakland Public School District. Joe also served on the boards of Providence Hospital Foundation and Easter Seals where his talents, knowledge and familiarity with local community leaders were in high demand. Joe was also active in Kiwanis, Acacia Clubs of the Masonic Order, the Red Cross, and served as a Commissioner on the Oakland Parks and Recreation Commission. This scholarship was established in his memory in 1990. Dr. Janet Lee, M.D. (November 13, 1915 – November 19, 2012) was a pioneering doctor from Oakland. She was the first Chinese American woman from Oakland to get a medical degree and practice medicine. Dr. Lee graduated at the top of her class at UCSF in 1940. She began her practice as an Ob-Gyn in 1943 and retired in 1985. An Honorary Member of Wa Sung, she served many years as a trustee of the Perpetual Scholarship Fund.
Dr. Allan Nunn
Dedicated by Dr. Evelyn Li, for her late husband. Dr. Li is a cardiologist practicing in Fremont.
Susie Oi Young Yip
Young and full of life and vigor, Susie died of a brain tumor at the young age of 33. Coming to Oakland from New York, Susie joined Wa Sung Service Club and found a place where she made new friends, shared her vibrancy and energy, and never found a challenge that she could not meet. Susie served on the Wa Sung Board of Directors and chaired many Wa Sung events. Susie was known for her "Red Bean Drink" at the Oakland Chinatown StreetFest. 1993, Susie returned to her family in New York after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Before she left, she told Wa Sung members "Don't be sad. I'm going to beat this and then I'll be back". Susie fought for 2 years after the doctors told her she only had one year to live.
Walter Y. & Mildred L. Chinn
The Walter Y. & Mildred L. Chinn Fund was initially established in 1993 to fund special community projects. For over 20 years, it funded the annual Mildred L. Chinn Memorial Picnic via the nationally renowned Asian Youth Services Committee (AYSC), an organization co-founded by Walter to address the needs of Asian youths. Starting in 2015, it will fund scholarships. Walter, a native Oaklander, joined the Wa Sung Community Service Club in 1983 and was a board member from 1984 to 1995. He became President in 1988, Member of the Year in 1989 and then a Life Member. He participated in every Wa Sung event until 1995. Mildred was born in Kentucky, the only daughter of a railroad train engineer. She participated in most of the Wa Sung events and had worked at the California State Compensation Board. She was widely known for her warmth and genuine interest when representing the City of Oakland at many high-profile civic functions. Walter had a successful career with PayLess Drug Stores that spanned more than 30 years. Started out as a stock clerk in 1952, he quickly rose through the ranks and in 1963, became the first non-Caucasian store manager of a national Caucasian-owned chain in the country. His abilities were further recognized five years later when he was promoted to district manager with twelve stores under his supervision. Since his retirement from PayLess in 1982, Walter has devoted his time to community services. He co-founded the Asian Advisory Committee on Crime (AACC) in 1986, and AYSC in 1990. His extensive community service includes serving on the board of 15 organizations and as Oakland City Commissioner. His leadership and services in the community have earned him numerous honors and Resolutions, such as from the U.S. Congress, California State Assembly, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, City of Oakland, Merritt Hospital, and Summit Hospital. He was the proud recipient of the Alameda County Bar Association Liberty Bell Award in 1995. Since co-founding AYSC in 1990, Walter remained active with the youths until his retirement in 2013. Mildred was always there with Walter to guide the youths. AYSC so loved Mildred that when she passed away in 1992 they named their annual picnic “The Mildred L. Chinn Annual Picnic.” The Oakland City Council officially proclaimed June 18 as the “Mildred L. Chinn Memorial Picnic Day.“ Walter and Mildred are honored to participate in the Wa Sung Merit Scholarship program
Dr. Joshua Fong, Optometrist
Community Service Scholarship
Josh, the original farm boy from Fremont, California, was one of eight children raised on a Niles farm by a father who was a lay preacher at the old Cumberland Church in Oakland. One of Josh's earliest memories was reading about the Wa Sung Baseball Team- Allie Wong, Henry Bowen, Ed Yee... After the Navy, Josh attended USC Optometry School and opened his practice in 1953, in the Elmhurst district of Oakland. In the same year, Josh was thrilled to be the second non-baseball team member accepted in the newly formed Wa Sung Service Club. Josh is one of the co-founders of the annual Easter Breakfast at Oakland Lincoln Square Playground and was the famous stove man, flipping pancakes for many years. In 1957, Josh served as the President of Wa Sung Service Club, and in 1961, he was nominated Member of the Year. Active in many Oakland community programs, Josh was especially proud to the project chairman for the building of the Chinese Junkboat 1961, located at Oakland Lincoln Square Playground. Josh was a volunteer and donor in may organizations for San Leandro to San Ramon. During his optometry practice, Josh joined a group of East Bay business leaders as a founder of the Bay Bank of Commerce in Oakland Chinatown, and now has a branch in San Leandro, Hayward and San Ramon. Josh served as Chairman of the board of Bay Bank for 19 years.
Nancy Jo Lee
Nancy Jo Lee was the daughter of her loving parents, Dr. Theodore and Laura Joe Lee. As a child, Nancy was shy, precocious, and adorable. During her school years, she excelled in swimming, singing, and dancing. As an adult, Nancy valued ongoing education, loved to see and hear all types of entertainment such as movies, singers, or club acts as well as the performing arts at theatres showcasing musical plays, symphonies, and ballets. She also immersed herself in different cultures but, above all, continued to learn about her Chinese heritage and its importance. She lived the cosmopolitan lifestyle, enjoyed eating varieties of foods and was always happy to be traveling around the world. Nancy had a big heart and liked to share any wisdom she gained through her experiences. Nancy left her mark as a person dedicated to Wa Sungs activities and, alongside with others, donated to their annual Scholarship Award program. Nancy loved children and encouraged Oakland Lincoln Schools 5th grade class development by supporting their education through exposure to science and the performing arts. Additionally, God was first in Nancy's heart, and the Oakland Chinese Presbyterian Church remained a force in her life.
Freeman & Mary Chan
Freeman was born in San Francisco. He was the eldest son of Rev. and Mrs. Lok Shang Chan. He met his true love, Mary, in New York and they moved to Oakland and were married for 64 years. Freeman became a member of the Wa Sung Club in 1963. He grew up in Oakland Chinatown and already knew the Wa Sung members years before he joined. He waited until he could devote full time to community service. He was also a member of the Chinese American Citizen Alliance and the Oakland Chinese Community United Methodist Church. He served on the Senior Nutrition Program Committee for Family Bridges and was also on the Asian Advisory Board for Albert Brown Co. Freeman held the following Wa Sung positions: Treasurer in 1964, Recording Secretary in 1965 and 1969, and Board of Director in 1974 and 1981. In 1981, Freeman received the top honor of Member of the Year. In 1976 he was honored with Wa Sung Life Membership. For 44 years, Freeman attended the General Meetings, the picnics, Casino night, As baseball games, Christmas parties, and never missed the annual Wa Sung Easter Pancake Breakfast. Mary was originally from Queens, New York. She was the eldest daughter of 10 children. She married and moved to Oakland in 1943. Mary was reunited in heaven with her loving husband of 64 years, Freeman, on September 25, 2007. She was always at Wa Sung events with her husband Freeman and felt she had been part of the Wa Sung Club even before she became a member in 1993. Mary was on the Wa Sung Board of Directors from 2002-2005 and in 2005 was honored with Life Membership. She also was a member of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance and the Oakland Chinese Community United Methodist Church. She was on the Asian Advisory Board for Albert Brown. After retirement, she volunteered many hours for Family Bridges. Loving service was her way of life. Her unselfish and pleasing spirit will bind together the large circle of her family and friends for many generations to come.
Al and Becky Wong
Becky grew up in Oakland, going through the public school system, and was honored to receive a Wa Sung Scholarship during her senior year at Oakland High in 1964. The award helped her attend U.C. Berkeley, where she earned a teaching credential. She went on to become a teacher with the Oakland Unified School District for over 30 years. Her husband Al attended Tech High in Oakland, S.F. State, and Idaho State University. He worked as a pharmacist for Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek for 40 years. They have three children, and are both active at the Chinese Community United Methodist Church in Oakland. They are delighted to give back to their community through the Wa Sung Perpetual Scholarship Program, and particularly wish to assist students with a desire to serve others.
Victor & Bessie Mar
Bessie joined Wa Sung in 1985. For the next ten years she attended all the meetings and was active in many events. In the 80s Bill Jan, Walter Chinn, Victor Mar, and Doug Wong prepared the Wa Sung monthly meeting dinners at the CACA. They called themselves the Four Musketeers. Assisting them were the Four Mouseketeers: Alice Jan, Mildred Chinn, Bessie Mar, and Betty Young. At Easter Pancake Breakfasts Bessie would be in the office helping with the tickets. Among other activities such as the Wa Sung/CACA Dinner Dances she would be at the reception desk checking in the revelers. In 1986 Bessie became one of the first woman Wa Sung life members, In addition to Wa Sung, Bessie assisted Victor in many of his community activities. In her quiet way, she embodied Wa Sungs ideals.
Ann MonWai Lukezic
Ann was born in Yakima, WA., the youngest of six siblings. After graduating with a degree in Physical Education from Washington State University, she moved to Livermore and began her career as a PE teacher at Junction Avenue Middle school, where her career spanned two generations of young women. Her teaching philosophy was to emphasize the fun of participation and sportsmanship to make physical activity a lifelong goal. In 1990, Ann received a kidney transplant, a year after suffering from kidney failure. But true to her own teachings, she continued to participate in sports by competing in the transplant games. She entered competitions in badminton, table tennis, cycling, broad jump, shot-put, basketball , and volleyball; and won six medals. She was most proud of her Northern CA team who won the most medals as well as good sportsmanship award. Ann deeply appreciated the "gift of life" from a family who agreed to organ donation. Ann retired from teaching in 1999, and indulged and in her favorite hobby of gourmet cooking, attending cooking school and preparing meals for her husband Stanley and friends. Ann's zest for life will be remembered by all whose lives she touched.
Francis and Eugenie Young
Francis "Frank" and Eugenie "Genie" Young both joined Wa Sung in 2007. Frank was born in Oakland, CA, on September 18, 1941. He spent his childhood in Rodeo, CA, helping his parents Dock and Ahlon Young in their family business, Young's Family Restaurant. After graduating from Berkeley High School and Laney College, Frank joined the U.S. Air Force and served 22 years as an active enlistee and also in the Air National Guard. Frank and Genie were married in 1964. Frank's passion and calling was serving the community. Frank was a longtime volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). He served as the Pack master of Cub Scout Pack 14, and Scoutmaster Troop 11. Long after his sons had finished scouting, Frank continued his involvement and earned the "Silver Beaver" award for 40 years of distinguished service to the Alameda Council, BSA. Frank concurrently served at the American Red Cross as a CPR, First Aid, and Wilderness Survival Instructor. After his retirement from BART, Frank continued to serve the community as a Senior Volunteer with the California Highway Patrol and as a member of the Wa Sung until his passing on June 16, 2013. Genie is currently a Director of the Wa Sung Community Service Club. She hails from San Francisco but has been a resident of Alameda for over 40 years. She served in the Air Force from 1962 to 1965 along with her sister Garrienne, which was unusual for Chinese women of her generation. A "Jane of All Trades", she enjoys a variety of hobbies, including photography, bowling, cruising and fishing (both fresh and salt water), and sports of all kinds. She has a lifelong passion in cooking, particularly home-style Cantonese cooking, something that developed from helping out after work in her father's restaurant in Emeryville. Genie now enjoys her retirement with her family – two sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren. Before retirement she worked as an electroencephalogram (EEG) technician at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley.
Dr. Clifton Fong
Clifton was born and raised in Oakland’s Chinatown. He attended Lincoln Elementary School, Westlake Junior High, Oakland Technical High School, UC Berkeley and UCSF Dental School. Clifton practiced dentistry in Downtown Oakland for over 47 years and retired in 1989. He was highly dedicated to his family, profession, and the community that he grew up in. Clifton and Marion were married for 69 years and raised six children in Oakland, three of which became members of the Wa Sung Community Service Club. Marion and Clifton are both Life Members of Wa Sung. 13 Clifton’s earliest memories of Wa Sung developed long before it became a service club. The original members of the Wa Sung Baseball team would hang out at his parent’s Fong Get Barbershop on 8th and Harrison before running off to practice. When the baseball team members decided to form the Wa Sung Community Service Club, Clifton became the first nonbaseball team member. Clifton’s son recalls a conversation he had with his dad: Clifton told him that a person’s life is not judged by how much money you have or the material things that you possess. It is judged by how many people you make smile. It’s not about giving gifts or donating money. Sometimes it’s just by saying “Hi”, “Good Morning” or “Have a nice day”. He will always be remembered for his generosity, kind words and smile.
Karen joined Wa Sung in 1989 and as they say, “the rest is history.” The leadership, vision, entrepreneurship, “can do” attitude, and devotion that she brings to the club has profoundly changed the club for the better. Besides holding virtually all of the club’s positions, she was twice voted Member of the Year and five times elected club president, a feat that no one else has accomplished. To Karen, leadership came to her naturally, and it all started in grammar school. She was a rebellious child, having spent many long periods being disciplined in the principal’s office. She had even been restrained from continually disrupting the 1st grade class by her overwhelmed teacher who tied her to her chair with a jump rope to prevent her from constantly trying to get up! From these experiences she learned the personal and social consequences of wrong deeds, as well as what one must do to become a leader: understand people’s inner actions, be compassionate to those who are challenged with disadvantages, and admire those who are filled with ambitious dreams. In other words, focus not on people’s inadequacies but on the broader positive picture. With a college major in Information Technology, Karen has played project management roles with the Alameda County government, Foremost McKesson, Kaiser Permanente and Safeway Inc. These gave her leadership opportunities to successful implement software and hardware applications, building new data centers, and closing existing ones due to corporate mergers throughout the U.S. She has applied her project management skills in launching a variety of experimental-fun projects and business ventures including as a narrative filmmaker and the startup of the Budda Boom Budda Bing Mini Donut business. Karen’s exceptional leadership and entrepreneurial skills have made her Wa Sung’s greatest fundraiser, ever. She was the force behind virtually all of the club’s large-scale, glamorous, commercial-level fundraisers --- fashion shows in 1989, 1995, and 2012; Asian talent shows in 1991 and 1995, plus the most successful of them all, the food and wine event known as “A Chef’s Delight” that ran 13 times between 1998 to 2013. Karen’s lifelong desire to help others has found the right place in Wa Sung. She says, “With my constant development of life experiences and a sense of understanding and care for people, volunteering for Wa Sung is always rewarding.”
Tommy and Rosalie Chan
Life was not easy for Rosalie Chan growing up from a family of 12 children in Hong Kong. She was born during World War Two. After graduating from high school, she also desired a university education. Her uncle in Taiwan recommended she apply for Taiwan NormalUniversity. Once you get accepted, the tuition is free. The only obligation is you have to serve one year, as a teacher, teaching after you finished 4 years of education. When she graduated, she taught one year junior high in Taiwan. After she finished her obligatory teaching work, she went back to Hong Kong and applied to a US university. She arrived in California in1961. She taught Chinese school in the evening to support herself. Later on, she worked for Kaiser Permanente as a medical Technologist for 26 years, and then retired. Tommy Chan was born in California and served the military during the Korean War. Later on, he worked for BART as an inspector for 26 years, and then retired. They have a daughter, Jane Chan, who received a scholarship from Wa Sung during her high school years. She is now a MD in Neurology. Last year-2019, Tommy and Rosalie wanted to give back to Wa Sung Community Service Club, so they donated $10,000 to set up a perpetual scholarship to help future young people fulfill their dreams. They are also glad that they found such a fine Chinese American organization in the Bay Area.
March Fong Eu
March Kong Fong Eu, California’s former Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), was born in Oakdale behind the family's hand laundry and grew up in the East Bay. She graduated from Richmond High, attended Salinas Community College, and earned her BS from UC Berkeley/SF (1943), Masters from Mills College (1947), and Doctorate of Education from Stanford (1954). She died in 2017. March was the first dental hygienist hired for Oakland's schools while also being the first female and API Chair of UCSF’s Dept. of Dental Hygiene. With the American Dental Hygienists Association she served as national President (1944-1947) which gave her a taste for policy making. She spread her wings and was elected to the Alameda County Board of Education (1956-1966). In 1966, she was elected to the Assembly (1967-1974), representing the 15th District (Oakland/Castro Valley). When sworn into the Assembly, she was one of three women and the only API in the body. (In 2019, there are 15 APIs in the Assembly and 4 APIs in the Senate.) In 1974, March was elected Secretary of State with more than 3.4 million votes (her closest rival was behind by 1.2 million.) As the first female Secretary of State and the first API woman elected to a California constitutional office, she was re-elected four more times. Responsible for the state's elections, she promoted postcard voter registration and voter engagement. In 1994, she was appointed by President Clinton to be Ambassador to FSM. At an early age, March realized that education was the key to getting out of poverty. Her non English speaking parents worked long hours, but had little resources to help their children. Yet, March and her siblings were successful. She often said when life gave her lemons; she made lemonade, which aptly described her attitude about life’s hurdles and overcoming them. As an API trailblazer in politics, an advocate for women, minorities, consumers and the environment, her legacy also included going head-on, often with humor, the good old boy attitude. She fought against unacceptable status quo and the excuse "that is the way things are done." Her national and international reputation as a honest politician encouraged other API to go into public service.
Ching Ti Lam
Ching Ti Lam was an extraordinary woman in her own way. She was not famous, she was not school-educated, but she was a strong person with conviction about doing the right thing. She was born in 1931 in Hong Kong, during a difficult time in both Hong Kong and China's history. Her parents had four children, so she had two older brothers and one younger sister. When she was about 12, her family was split up to escape the Japanese invasion. She went with her mom and her eldest brother, while the second brother went with his father and his younger sister. The mother and two kids escaped to China, while the father and two kids stayed in Hong Kong. Ching Ti Lam lived her life for her children and grandchildren, and would have been very proud of the endowment fund. Her granddaughter, Janelle Bitker, was one of the Wa Sung scholarship recipients, and wrote these words in honoring her grandmother: "Pau Pau's life story alone remains an inspiration for me, as I navigate the world. She worked so hard and overcame so much adversity in Hong Kong, and then bravely uprooted her entire life to support her daughter, and help raise her grandchildren, who didn't speak her language. Without the privilege of conversations, she showed her love in quieter ways, like patiently spreading cold butter on white bread, despite having something much more flavorful on the stove, and always serving plain lap cheong (Chinese sausage) for Lunar New Year dinner, even though it wasn't a traditional dish for good meaning in the Chinese New Year."
This scholarship is established in honor of Peter Leung, a faculty member of Asian American Studies at UC Davis, from 1970- 1999. Peter Leung was a tireless advocate of documenting the oral history of the early Chinese immigrants to California. An immigrant himself from Hong Kong in the late 1960’s, his interest in Chinese American history was sparked by his first teaching job at UC Davis. An instructor of Cantonese, he discovered that most of the students enrolled in his classes were eager not only to learn the language, but also their cultural heritage. His first oral history project involve Chinese farm laborers in Locke, California, most of whom came as young men from southern China to find a better life in the Gold Mountain, but eventually had to remain here often as single men. His friendships with these retired laborers were mutually beneficial; fortunately he encountered many who were willing to share their stories. He did cutting edge research into the lives of Chinese residents of the town of Locke by recording their oral histories. He wrote One Day, One Dollar which documented the struggles of Chinese farm workers in the Sacramento River Delta to survive in the midst of racial discrimination, social isolation and poverty. His students at UC Davis often shared with him the plight of their immigrant families’ struggles to eke out a living in America. His networks with state park rangers were forged when was asked to restore the Wah Hop Store in Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, Coloma. His photographic exhibits throughout the state publicized the contributions of humble farm laborers to the development of California as an agricultural powerhouse. California State Archives sought his expertise with Chinese artifacts. Furthermore, his work with the Iu-Mien and Southeast Asian community was filled with passion and inspiration. In 1998, Sacramento Chinese Culture Foundation (SCCF), embarked on an ambitious project to produce a book to document contributions of Chinese immigrants and their descendants to California’s rich multi-cultural history. The idea was conceived by their late president, Professor Peter Leung. Funded by seed money from community donations, the book was partially completed before Professor Leung’s passing in 1999, and subsequently completed by a diligent team of volunteers from SCCF. The 500-page paperback book, 150 Years of the Chinese Presence in California, includes a compilation of articles in English and Chinese written by academicians, community leaders and government officials covering the history of Chinese laborers in the Central Valley and the current development of Chinatowns. He shared his vision for community service with his family as they joined him in many volunteer activities. This scholarship should be awarded to students who plan to pursue a career of public service in Chinese American communities. She was born in 1931 in Hong Kong, during a difficult time in both Hong Kong and China's history. Her parents had four children, so she had two older brothers and one younger sister. When she was about 12, her family was split up to escape the Japanese invasion. She went with her mom and her eldest brother, while the second brother went with his father and his younger sister. The mother and two kids escaped to China, while the father and two kids stayed in Hong Kong. Ching Ti Lam lived her life for her children and grandchildren, and would have been very proud of the endowment fund. Her granddaughter, Janelle Bitker, was one of the Wa Sung scholarship recipients, and wrote these words in honoring her grandmother: "Pau Pau's life story alone remains an inspiration for me, as I navigate the world. She worked so hard and overcame so much adversity in Hong Kong, and then bravely uprooted her entire life to support her daughter, and help raise her grandchildren, who didn't speak her language. Without the privilege of conversations, she showed her love in quieter ways, like patiently spreading cold butter on white bread, despite having something much more flavorful on the stove, and always serving plain lap cheong (Chinese sausage) for Lunar New Year dinner, even though it wasn't a traditional dish for good meaning in the Chinese New Year."
Eugene & Ruby Yee
Eugene Poe Yee was born on September 11, 1906, in Toisan, China. When he was 16 years old, he immigrated to the United States as a “Paper Son” on April 20, 1923. Like many others of his generation, he jumped at the opportunity to travel to “Gold Mountain”. Traveling for 30 days alone to Vancouver, BC by steamship, then by train to Boston, MA to meet up with his paper father/sponsor. Growing up in Chicago, he earned 2 degrees. The first from Coyne Electrical School as an electrician and the second from Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University as a master mechanic. Upon completion and due to discrimination, it was impossible to establish himself in either chosen fields. He was relegated to miscellaneous jobs in the Asian communities. After arriving in San Francisco, he opened his first restaurant, “Gene’s Cafe” located on Polk Street. This is where he met Ruby Fong. Ruby was the first of her siblings born in the United States on October 5, 1916 and was raised in the Chinatown district of San Francisco. They were married in Reno on September 10, 1942, in a triple wedding with her sisters, Pearl and Grace. Ruby had a full command of the Asian and American culture and was the center of most social gatherings. Well-versed in the business world, she was a member of the “Toastmistress” organization. When speaking, Ruby captivated the attention of all. She cast a “long shadow” and together with Eugene, they set an excellent example for their children. After WWII they sold the restaurant and purchased land in East Oakland where Eugene built many green houses to raise long stem roses, carnations and gladiolus. They raised chickens, rabbits and maintained a vegetable garden for food. In 1956, they sold the nursery and moved to Alameda. Eugene resumed his culinary talents at several restaurants in Oakland. Ruby put her salesmanship to the task of selling Stanley Home Products, Avon Cosmetics, pots and pans, sterling silver flatware and later life insurance. In 1961, they assumed the responsibility of the restaurant concession at the Alameda Hotel. They hosted many banquets and all the service clubs in Alameda. They served hundreds of patrons in the ballroom and banquet room in addition to servicing the adjoining coffee shop 7 days a week, serving 3 meals a day. His specialty was corn muffins, dinner rolls and assorted pies. After 3 years, due to health reasons, Eugene was forced to sell his interest at the hotel. In 1964, they purchased a family restaurant in Emeryville. They named it “Eugene’s Ranch House”. Compared to the Hotel, there was a significant reduction in stress, opening Monday through Friday, serving breakfast and lunch only. After 36 years and at the “young” age of 89, Eugene retired. Ruby passed away from a heart condition at the age of 67 on July 12, 1984. Eugene at 94, passed away on March 10, 2001. In remembrance, their children Eugenie Young, Garrienne Nakano, Benjamin Yee and William Yee established the Eugene & Ruby Yee Memorial Perpetual Merit Scholarship with the Wa Sung Community Service Club.
Mary & Gordon Lee
Gordon Lee immigrated from China when he was 13 to join his father in Oakland. He attended Lincoln Elementary School and graduated from Oakland Technical High School. Gordon joined the US Army and when he returned, Gordon started a career with Pacific Bell, retiring after 38 years. Gordon joined Wa Sung in 1962 to participate in the vibrant Oakland Chinese Community and was a life-time member until his death in 2007. Gordon and Mary were married in 1950 and participated in the Easter Pancake Breakfast, Chef’s Delight, holiday parties, and other community events supporting Wa Sung. They also enjoyed the Lincoln Elementary School reunions to connect with friends. They lived in Oakland and San Leandro. Education was very important to Gordon and Mary. They sacrificed to ensure that their children and grandchildren had the best academic opportunities available to them. To give back to the community, the Gordon and Mary Lee Memorial Scholarship will provide the opportunity for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.
Arnold Thomas Mew (1945-2020) was a 3 times President of Wa Sung, in 1990, shared president in 1999 and in 2013 and Member of the Year in 1993 and in 2006. Arnold was the nicest person you could imagine, willing to give you the shirt off his back. Especially if it came to needing a ride to/from home, Arnold was never one to care of the distance or time to ensure you arrived safely to your destination. He recognized that it was the small gestures that were the most meaningful in life. Arnold was born in Oakland and grew up in Alameda during a time when Chinese Americans were scarce in the East Bay. He lived his entire life in the East Bay, joining Wa Sung in the late 1980s because he believed in giving back to the community. He graduated Alameda High School and later from California State University in Hayward (East Bay) with a BS in Business. In April 1966, Arnold was the president of the Chinese Students Intercollegiate Organization (CSIO) and organized an outstanding 4-day conference held in San Francisco that recognized and celebrated Chinese contributions in America. Chinese American students came from UC Berkeley, Stanford, Fresno State, USC, and other colleges throughout California. Upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with the rank of Major. Arnold had two very specific unique skill sets; one in Accounting and the other in Piano. Arnold was continuously willing to do accounting duties of Wa Sung when no one else would. Further, he always warmly welcomed every guest at Wa Sung events from the 1990s to the 2020s as he served as greeter and cash collector at the entrance. His other unique skill was being a gifted pianist. Harken back to the days of Bob Hope and Judy Garland, Arnold loved accompanying singers with his piano skills. He had the outstanding ability to listen to a song once, and play it by memory for his singer. A loving father, a devoted husband, a caring sibling to his brothers and a generous man, Arnold epitomized Wa Sung’s Statement of Purpose throughout his 35+ years of membership and commitment. It is the hope the annual winner of the Arnold Thomas Mew annual scholarship award recognizes that societal contributions are NOT only in the big things you do, but more importantly the small things you do for others each and every day.
Dr Weylin and Roselyn Eng-Wa Sung Community Service Club Fund Special Project Gift Donor
Weylin’s father, Raymond Eng became the first elected Asian American to serve on the Oakland City Council and Vice Mayor and continued to serve four terms. “He was one of a kind” Weylin reflects. Weylin is extending that legacy in so many ways and has encouraged his family to follow suit as well. Weylin followed in his father’s footsteps, starting optometry practices in the East Bay. He also served as a Captain in the U.S. Navy. Weylin is a firm believer in giving back to the community whenever possible. He and his wife, Roselyn, have lived in Orinda for 45+ years and are enthusiastic civic leaders. The Dr. Weylin and Roselyn Eng-Wa Sung Community Service Club Fund was initiated in 2021 to enrich cultural diversity, support senior citizens and encourage Wa Sung projects. In looking back at why he devotes so much time and effort to community service and philanthropy, Weylin strikes his typically modest tone. “My family had a lot to do with it, as did my church. As corny as it sounds, I’m just trying to follow the scout law – give back, help others. If a little bit rubs off, we’ll all benefit.”
Wilfred and Jane Tom
Wilfred Tom was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was a Boy Scout and was a member of a choir in high school where its members were from all over the island of Oahu. He graduated from McKinley High School in Hawaii, and after his service in the Navy, he graduated from Armstrong Business School. He enlisted in the Navy when he was 19 and was assigned to duty at the Alameda Naval Air Base. On his leaves, he visited the churches around Oakland Chinatown. One of the churches he visited and later became an active member was the Chinese Presbyterian Church on Eighth Street. There he met Jane who was attending the church and singing in the choir with her best friend, Lois Lee (Chan). Jane was born and raised in Alameda, California. She would tell people, she also was born and raised on an island, too. Jane graduated from Alameda High School and attended UC Berkeley for one year. At the age of 45, she worked for the San Lorenzo Unified School District as a Study Hall Assistant and moved up to be the secretary for the Assistant Superintendent of the district. As a young adult she was a member of the church's Young Adults group. Wil later joined the Young Adult group and was befriended by Ellen and Taft Fong who became his “Away From Home Parents”. In the Young Adult group, he met and became lasting friends with many young men who joined the Wa Sung Service Club in the 1950s, for instance John Sue, Dr. Joshua Fong, and Robert Lee. Being a part of a group of men whose focus was to give back and serve the Asian community as well as the city of Oakland was important not only then, but still is today. In 1956, Wil married Jane. As their family grew with 5 children, they attended many Wa Sung events. These events became a part of their family traditions. A memorable moment for his family was the day before the Easter pancake breakfast, Wil would take out these huge speakers and the sound system that would be used during the Easter Pancake Breakfast and lay them out in the living room. He would leave really early on Easter to set up the sound system, and then return home to bring his family to Lincoln Square to have pancakes, sausages, and oranges on Easter day before they would go to church. Though Wil does not need to bring these speakers and the sound system to the event anymore, Wil and his family still continue to attend this event each year on Easter. Wil’s family was quite proud of their dad when he was elected to become the president of Wa Sung in 1972 and Man of the Year in 1973. When asked why he wanted to be President of the Wa Sung Club, he said it was to serve his community. For many years, Wil with a group of members assisted John Sue as they designed and published the annual Wa Sung book that was distributed at the Easter Breakfast. This book is still distributed at the Easter Pancake Breakfast. Note from Wil’s daughter: I’m sure there are other stories that others could tell about my dad and my mom, but I know that it was a great privilege to serve our Asian community and joy for my folks to be a part of the Wa Sung community Service Club.