OBITUARY

Wing Leong

November 24, 1924July 10, 2018
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Wing Leong, son of Ngum Gee (Father) and Chin Shee (Mother) died on July 10, 2018. He was 93. Born in St. Louis’ Chinatown, his mother and father were Chinese immigrants and his family owned a restaurant where he worked as a boy making deliveries, greeting customers, and working in the kitchen. From his humble beginnings, he set his sights on a professional career and attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering. He worked at Emerson Electric in St. Louis for over 30 years in the Aeronautics and Space Division. In 1975, he was selected as the Lead Project Manager for the Middle East, living in Tehran, Iran for two years with his wife, Gertrude, and younger son, Andrew. During his time as an Engineer, he was an active member and officer of the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis. After retiring from Emerson Electric, Wing worked as a consultant to Emerson for several years. During his retirement, he traveled with his wife to Europe and China, crafted beautiful wood pieces for his grandchildren, enjoyed photography and spending time with his family. He and his wife eventually moved from St. Louis and became residents of River Forest, Illinois to be closer to their daughter, Janet, and three granddaughters. Wing was preceded in death by his younger brother, Quong (Cynthia) and sister Annie. Wing is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gertrude, daughter Janet (Kevin Crowell), sons Ronald (Nancy) and Andrew (Linda), and six grandchildren- Katherine, Elizabeth, Vivian, Luke, Ben and Jonathan. A funeral service to celebrate Wing’s life is on Monday, July 16 at Woodlawn Funeral Home, 7750 West Cermak Road, Forest Park, Illinois. Visitation is 10:00-11:00AM and service is 11:00AM-12:00PM followed by lunch. Memorial contributions benefiting the Wing Leong Scholarship may be made payable to: Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1082, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO. 63130 specifying the scholarship name on the memo line of your check.

Services

  • Visitation Monday, July 16, 2018
  • Funeral Service Monday, July 16, 2018
  • Interment Monday, July 16, 2018
REMEMBERING

Wing Leong

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Ben Leong

August 1, 2018

I have two special memories of Grandpa. One light-hearted and one serious. I'll start with the light-hearted one first. I remember I was about 8 or 9 and my parents were out of town so Grandma and Grandpa came down to watch me for a few days. One day for breakfast we decided to go to Ihop. I had ordered the chocolate pancakes and I did not like them. It was not the waitress' fault I had ordered them, but I simply did not like the taste. I remember Grandpa asking me why I was not eating. He was always so concerned that I had enough to eat. I told him that I did not like the pancakes. He immediately wanted to talk to the manager to get me new pancakes. For those of you who know Grandpa, he was not afraid to complain. You can rest assured I walked away from Ihop very content.
The next story I have of Grandpa is the time I flew back with him and Grandma back to Chicago after my high school graduation. The conversation I had with him on the plane was truly the first adult conversation I ever shared with my Grandpa. We talked about an array of different topics, Calculus, his childhood, what I wanted to pursue as a career. I remember he gave me advice to pursue a career in something I truly loved. He warned me against pursuing money over my passion. He told me about his career and how he loved being an engineer.


Linda Leong

August 1, 2018

Wing was a kind man whom the Lord blessed with 93 years of a very full life. He loved family, food, and telling a good story. I remember sitting at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in St . Louis , and listening to Wing chuckle and tell a “yarn” or two. He lives on in my husband (Andrew) and sons (Luke and Ben) as wonderful legacies of whom he can be very proud.


Katherine Rowe

August 1, 2018

I met my first love (sorry Steve Rowe) at the age of 18 months. I took my first bite of dim sum, and I’ve never looked back. I have my grandfather and grandmother to thank for that.

Do I remember the first bite? Unfortunately no, but I’m glad my grandfather never shied away from mentioning to our waiters at the Phoenix (our favorite dim sum spot) that I took my first bite of delicious dim sum at 18 months and that I called the pork bun (cha shu bao) “doughy”.

I’m so thankful that we got to spend an innumerable number of hours sharing dim sum together. It was more than "doughy" that we shared, though. My grandfather shared his stories of hard work and determination that paved his path to success, and in turn, helped instill my work ethic and drive for success.

His family was poor and used toilet paper instead of normal paper for homework assignments; he strapped wooden blocks to his feet so he could reach the gas and brake peddles and drove the restaurant delivery truck around St. Louis, and he meticulously chopped vegetables for chop suey.

When I think of my grandpa, I think of a man who made sacrifices for opportunities that would propel him and his family forward. I think of a man who could never satiate his intellectual curiosities (ask me about the time I taught him how to text), and above all, I think of a man who loved everyone around him.

Look around you. He and my grandmother built this family and this community. We are full of his spirit today and forever. We too make sacrifices for our families; we strive to create opportunities for ourselves and others. We too are full of love for those around us.

As we share lunch today, I’ll be thinking of the stories he shared that inspired me to become his hardworking, determined granddaughter, and I invite you to think of the stories he shared with each and every one of you that helped create the person you are today.

We thank you, grandpa.


Elizabeth Crowell

July 31, 2018

Something special that my grandfather and I share is that we both graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. My grandfather graduated in 1947, and I was fortunate enough that he was able to attend my graduation 67 years later in 2014.

When I was a sophomore in October 2011, I interviewed my Grandpa for my class: The Oral History of St. Louis. Here’s a part of his story:

While we’re at the Asia Restaurant, the upstairs, before the Asia Café, I went to McKinley High School and so one day it was this fellow- he’s a few years older than me- maybe he was ten years older than me– his name was Sam Sit. S-I-T was his last name. And his parents used to own a Chinese grocery store close to where I was born next-door. Theirs was number 25; ours was number 18. So here was Sam, and he went to Washington University. And he graduated as an architect. At that time, the Asia Restaurant upstairs part of it, they had a party. I don’t recall what party but there were a lot of professional people. And it was a Chinese banquet. I was kind of like a bus boy. And here’s this guy- Sam he’s an architect and he’s addressing this group of fifty American professional people on all kinds of stuff. And he struck me as being something- hey, he’s kind of my idol. I wish I could be like him. And he went to Washington University. So I said, hey I want to be like him. I want to go to Washington University. I said what is Washington University? It’s way up there. And I see this picture of the university on the hill- the hilltop with the Brookings Hill. I said I sure wish I could be like him. So I remember that and when it came time for me to decide after I graduated from McKinley High School. I told my mom- “Hey, I want to go to Washington University.” Similar to how my grandpa wanted to be like Sam Sit, I wanted to be like my grandpa and go to Washington University. This story shows his persistence and grit that make me proud to be his granddaughter.

Nancy Leong

July 29, 2018

They say that when you marry someone, you marry their family. When I married Ron, I not only married a wonderful man, but I also became a part of a wonderful family. Wing and Gertrude welcomed me into their family with kindness, caring and much love.

Before we were married, Ron and I attended classes at our church that would help us prepare for married life. During one of the classes, we were asked to reflect on our own families and experiences growing up. I remember Ron talking about how happy he was growing up in a family with two parents that loved and cared for him. They showed their love for him in multiple ways and Ron would tell me about some of his favorite memories that made his childhood so special.

Ron’s role as a father to our son Jonathan is a reflection of the love that he was shown by his father and mother. He has often commented that he hopes that he can be as wonderful a father to Jonathan as his father was to him. I am so very thankful that Ron had such a wonderful father as a model. I know that Wing’s influence on Jonathan will continue through Ron.

As Jonathan grows, I hope that he will embrace one of the characteristics that I admired in Wing, that of curiosity. Wing was someone that always had a curiosity about the world around him. I hope that I can stay as curious about life and the world around me as Wing did in his life and I hope that Jonathan will “stay curious” as well.

Finally, to the cousins and aunts and uncles who are reading this, I hope that you will share stories about Wing with Jonathan. We have treasured photos of Wing and Jonathan, but I hope that you will talk about Wing with Jonathan so that he will know of this very special man who loved him and whom we loved so very much.

Ronald Leong

July 29, 2018

I am Ron Leong, one of Wing and Gertrude’s sons. My middle name is Wing, and so is the middle name of my son Jonathan. My wife Nancy and I chose Wing as Jonathan’s middle name to honor my father.

When I was Cub Scout, there was an annual event called the Pinewood Derby, in which each Cub Scout was given a block of wood to make a race car that would be released from a height to roll downhill on a track. My dad carved the wooden block into an aerodynamic shape, painted it red, and it won. The next year he carved the block of wood into a different aerodynamic shape, with a more elaborate paint scheme -- gold, with black teeth in front and the name “Golden Dragon”. It also won.

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and the NFL football team then was the Cardinals. There was a contest with large sheets of paper with drawings of the faces of the Cardinal players. The underside of Coca Cola bottle caps had drawings of the football players’ faces, too. The idea was to glue the bottle caps to the paper, matching the faces. If you filled up a sheet, you got an NFL football. In order to get more bottle caps, my dad drove us to different places and we used a magnet attached to a string to “fish out” the metal bottle caps from vending machines. In accordance with the rules, my dad drew faces we needed. We got 4 footballs, and gave at least a couple to cousins.

My last story is of my dad taking me to my first Major League Baseball game. When I was 8 years old, I told my dad I wanted to go a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. On my 9th birthday, he took me to a double header on a Sunday. We sat in box seats behind home plate. I was just grateful and happy to be at my first ball game, and did not realize until later how really special those seats were.

When I spoke to my father in his last few days, I told him I loved him, and that I hoped I would be as a good a father to my sister Janet, my bother Andy, and me.

Andrew Leong

July 27, 2018

My first story is my cool dad story. I think most of you know that dad was an engineer for Emerson Electric, but many of you did not know that he worked in the Aerospace and Defense Division. One of his projects was to help develop the gun turret for one of the army’s new attack helicopters. One Saturday when I was a kid, dad took me to work. His company was going to test a new ammunition feed system for a machine gun turret in an underground firing range. The control room had bullet-proof glass and a big red button for firing the gun. We were all in the control room when one of dad’s associates asked me if I would like to hit the red button to fire the gun. As a young boy fascinated by military things, it was a dream come true! I hit the big red button and the machine gun started to fire. After a few seconds there was an explosion- there was a problem with the ammunition feed system. One of dad’s associates looked at me said “Well kid, that’s why we test it”.Knowing how lawyers view liability issues, I am probably the last kid ever to fire a machine gun at the Emerson Electric firing range!
My next story tells you a little about his caring nature. I went to college in Minnesota while my parents lived in St. Louis, Missouri, a distance of over 500 miles. During my senior year, I had a detached retina and in those days, repairing the retina required surgery in a hospital with a few days of hospital recovery. I called my parents and told them I was having surgery the next day -but not to worry. The next day there was a knock on my apartment door at 8:00A.M. My dad had flown from St. Louis to San Francisco for a business trip, but felt so uneasy, he immediately got on another flight and flew all night from San Francisco to the Twin Cities, arriving in time to take me to the hospital. He didn’t tell me he was coming, so was I surprised! While very caring, dad couldn’t stand the sight of blood so he had to quickly leave the hospital room.

Janet Leong

July 27, 2018

My two brothers and I grew up in University City, a suburb of St. Louis. We had idyllic childhoods playing for hours outside with our friends, riding our bikes, and running in and out of house.

When I was 7, I asked my parents if I could take piano lessons. My friends started taking piano lessons and I loved hearing them play- so I wanted to play too.

No one in our family played the piano. Neither of my parents had ever taken music lessons because their parents were concerned about daily survival and did not have the luxury of paying for lessons. My father, Wing Leong, grew up during the depression in the Chinatown of St. Louis and his father died when he was 14 years old, leaving his mother to care and provide for him and his younger brother Quong and sister Annie. As a boy, he worked in the restaurant to help his mother who did not read, write or speak English.

After some discussion, my parents agreed that I could take piano lessons which, of course, required a piano, which we did not own. Once the decision was made, though, I remember my father launching into project piano mode- he did all the research, visited several piano stores, and asked lots of questions of the sales people to understand which piano to buy. If there had been a Consumer Reports on pianos- he would have carefully studied the research and earmarked the pages for future reference.

My parents finally chose a black Howard baby grand piano that sat prominently in the corner of the dining room, where I would practice daily. My father even tried to teach himself how to play the piano with a learning system that had color coded piano keys.

This is one example of how my father wanted his children to have opportunities that he did not have. Many years ago, my father gave me more than a piano. He gave me a love of learning and the desire to live each day with purpose, drive, optimism, compassion and love.

Luke Leong

July 27, 2018

My very first memory of Grandpa Wing was being with him at his house in St Louis. I was around four years old and I distinctly remembering him taking me outside and we would walk around the yard and pick up sticks and throw them into the woods. We did this a few times and I was always excited to spend time with him even if we were just doing yard work. Even as a small child I remember my grandpa Wing making quality time a priority.

When I was around thirteen years old I picked up a passion for the stock market. Despite being very young, my father, as well as grandma and grandpa Wing encouraged me to learn about investments. I would call grandma and grandpa and talk to them about what stocks they thought I should invest in. I can fully attribute my career in wealth and asset management to being constantly encouraged and challenged by them. Grandpa was a life long learner and he passed that passion on to his children and their children.

Anyone who knew grandpa Wing well knew that he loved food. Anyone who also knows grandma well knows that she was a very healthy eater and subjected grandpa to her healthy food standards. (It’s no wonder he lived so long!) Once, my family was visiting grandma and grandpa in their condo in Chicago and we were putting together a take out order for a local Chinese restaurant. Now, one of grandpa’s favorite dishes was egg foo young (a particularly greasy and unhealthy dish) needless to say grandma would deny his request to order it. He was a cunning man, and so instead of request it himself he asked me separately if I wanted egg foo young. Sensing his motives I obliged. He then proceeded to tell grandma to order egg foo young. She immediately said that he didn’t need it! To which he, without pause, countered that it was not him, but Luke that wanted it! She looked at me and I confirmed that it was I who wanted it. When the food arrived he went straight for the dish and ate the whole thing!

Vivian Crowell

July 26, 2018

This past Memorial Day my dad, mom, and I took Grandpa out to dinner so he could get his fix of crab cakes. When we got our meal and he was quite at first because as all you know Grandpa loves his food and a sign that he is enjoying his meal is if it’s a little quite. He then started asking me about how I was liking my internship and what I had learned. After updating him on how I was progressing, he told me all about his first job when he was in high school. He worked at a company that made kits for Sunday School making a dollar a week. Even though Grandpa was overly skilled to be sorting and counting pencils and crayons for kits he still was very thankful for the job and worked hard of course.

After his job for the Sunday school he began working as a civil engineer for the city of St. Louis. His co-workers quickly took notice of what a hard worker he was. Anyone who knew my grandfather knew he payed close attention to detail and put thought into everything he did. It could be the simplest task but he would still give it as much thought as anything else. Soon the commissioner offered him a full time job to work for the city. My grandfather was grateful for the offer but he wanted to see what other types of engineering jobs were out there. At the end of him telling me this story he said "You know what I realize after these two jobs? To always be asking questions and to keep learning. Even if it is the simplest of jobs there is always something to learn." I made a promise to him to always ask questions and to be curious.

Not only did I learn to always ask questions and to be curious, I learned humility. No matter how easy the job was he always took it seriously. One of his traits that has rubbed off on me is this- never be complacent. His passion to always learn more has inspired me to do the same, which I promised him I always would. I have him to thank for all of the effort I have put into school and into my internship.

Biography

Wing Leong, son of Ngum Gee (Father) and Chin Shee (Mother) died on July 10, 2018. He was 93. Born in St. Louis’ Chinatown, his mother and father were Chinese immigrants and his family owned a restaurant where he worked as a boy making deliveries, greeting customers, and working in the kitchen. From his humble beginnings, he set his sights on a professional career and attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering. He worked at Emerson Electric in St. Louis for over 30 years in the Aeronautics and Space Division. In 1975, he was selected as the Lead Project Manager for the Middle East, living in Tehran, Iran for two years with his wife, Gertrude, and younger son, Andrew. During his time as an Engineer, he was an active member and officer of the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis.
After retiring from Emerson Electric, Wing worked as a consultant to Emerson for several years. During his retirement, he traveled with his wife to Europe and China, crafted beautiful wood pieces for his grandchildren, enjoyed photography and spending time with his family. He and his wife eventually moved from St. Louis and became residents of River Forest, Illinois to be closer to their daughter, Janet, and three granddaughters.
Wing was preceded in death by his younger brother, Quong (Cynthia) and sister Annie.
Wing is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gertrude, daughter Janet (Kevin Crowell), sons Ronald (Nancy) and Andrew (Linda), and six grandchildren- Katherine, Elizabeth, Vivian, Luke, Ben and Jonathan.
A funeral service to celebrate Wing’s life is on Monday, July 16 at Woodlawn Funeral Home, 7750 West Cermak Road, Forest Park, Illinois. Visitation is 10:00-11:00AM and service is 11:00AM-12:00PM followed by lunch.
Memorial contributions benefiting the Wing Leong Scholarship may be made payable to: Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1082, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO. 63130 specifying the scholarship name on the memo line of your check.