Pacita Quan Tam
June 13, 1941 – July 24, 2020
Pacita Quan Tam 關月媚 Birthday: 6/13/1941 (Manila, Philippines) Passed: 7/24/2020 Married: 10/1/1967 (Seattle, WA)
Pacita Quan Tam was born in Manila, Philippines on June 13, 1941. Her childhood was filled with music and books, playing with her five siblings and cousins, and exploring the city. Her family owned a Chinese bookstore in Manila that was frequented by everyone in town — including once by her childhood idol, singer Teresa Teng.
In the small Chinese community in Manila, Pacita was quite popular and had many friends. She was one of the most beautiful ladies in Chinatown, catching the eyes of many admirers, including her future husband, Luis Tam.
Her dream was to travel and experience life abroad. After graduating high school, she wanted to attend college in Taiwan. Because her father didn’t support studying abroad, she attended University of the East as a business major in Manila. She quietly vowed to expose her children to traveling at a young age. She eventually followed through with this, sending her children to summer school in Taiwan as early as ten years old.
Pacita and Luis’s love story was made for the movies. In 1962, while working at the General Chamber of Commerce as an ambassador to foreign dignitaries, Pacita met Luis. They were briefly acquainted before Luis moved to the United States for college. Half a world apart, the two began exchanging love letters, and their friendship strengthened despite the distance. In 1966, Luis proposed to Pacita via letter and she accepted.
After a whirlwind adventure across the Pacific, with visits to Taiwan and Hawaii along the way, Pat arrived in Seattle with her life squeezed into a few suitcases. It was her first time abroad — and just the beginning of the adventurous life she’d imagined for herself. She married Luis in Seattle on October 1, 1967, surrounded by local friends and family.
Pacita often told the story of how, one night, an old man visited her in her dreams. He told her she would have a baby girl, and that this child would grow to take care of siblings. She believed every word he’d said. Shortly after, in 1968, she and Louie welcomed their first child, a daughter they named Eileen. Three sons followed — Irwin in 1969, Edwin in 1972, and Sherwin in 1973. Louie had wanted a “winning” family.
And the family was absolutely successful in their endeavors. In 1969, Pat and Louie started Tam Industries with their savings and a goal to attain the American Dream. The skylight company has found much success since then, with Pacita contributing as Co-President. By 1978, the Tams saved enough money to move their family to Bellevue, where they hoped to provide the best education and environment for their children.
The Tams knew they wanted to share their life in America with the family they had left behind in the Philippines. So, over the course of two decades, Pat and Louie sponsored over 10 families and a handful of employees to the United States. Pacita had a kind heart and always extended a hand to those in need.
Pacita battled breast cancer in 1994 and uterine cancer in 2002. Despite the physical and mental challenges the disease presented, Pat’s perseverance and sheer will to live helped her get through the rigorous treatments. She wanted to live for her family and their children. She was a fighter. And she was a survivor.
Her battle with cancer ultimately taught her how precious life was. While in remission, Pacita focused on what gave her the most joy. She loved going to the gym and church to see her friends. In her down time, she worked on sewing projects and tended to her flower-filled solarium.
Tending to her travel bug was Pat’s biggest passion. Trip after trip, Pat and Louie saw the world together. Turkey, Santorini, and St. Petersburg were some of her favorite places visited, and she also traveled extensively around Asia, with many trips to China. Pacita loved experiencing new cultures and conducting her own off-the-beaten-path excursions. And on these trips, she always emerged with a new friend at the end. She was electric and friendly and beautiful — people just gravitated toward her.
Pacita loved her family fiercely and enjoyed upholding traditions like making yuan on winter solstice and hotpot dinners on Chinese New Year. She passed on her adventurousness to her family, and together they frequently traveled to Hawaii and went camping in the summer. Time with the grandkids was time well-spent, and Pacita’s children never hesitated to drop their kids off without warning. Her family was by her side through the entirety of her battle with pancreatic cancer. Pacita’s spirit stayed strong and positive throughout her fight. She passed peacefully in her home on July 24, 2020.
Pacita is preceded in death by her parents, Lim Quan and Juanita Toy.
She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Luis Tam, four children and their spouses, 10 grandchildren, and five siblings.
Friday, July 31, 2020