Grace M. Wong
November 22, 1925 – April 20, 2021
Grace Marie Wong, born November 22, 1925 in Portland, OR, passed away peacefully in her sleep on April 20, 2021.
Grace was the third of four children, born to William Wong and May Chan Wong. She is the last surviving sibling among older brothers Victor and Robert, and younger sister Marilyn.
Grace worked for the Federal Government for over 40 years, starting off as a G2 secretary/stenographer and retired in 1989 as a G12 official and an acting supervisor for the Bonneville Power Administration.
She graduated from Girl’s Polytechnic High School in 1943 and entered the workforce as a draftsperson for the local shipyards. After a short stint as a secretary for the local VA/Psychiatric Ward, she transferred to the IRS where she worked for the Department of Justice/Intelligence. With Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy at the helm, it was the department’s mission to aggressively pursue organized crime. Grace participated in top security cases involving corruption, racketeering, prostitution and domestic terrorism. She interviewed dozens of mobsters, criminals, prostitutes and informants to uncover financial paper trails that would lead to the prosecution and conviction of the organized crime heads. She even worked on the case to identify the “BPA Bomber” in 1974 who threatened to take out the city’s power by bombing its electrical towers.
Working directly with the FBI, Grace’s clearance was so high that no one outside of the DOJ could know what cases she was working on. When questioned by an FBI agent doing a background check on Grace, the next door neighbor said she had “no clue what Grace even does.”
While serving in the US Attorney’s office in the 1980s, Grace was trained to be a paralegal and took those skills to the Bonneville Power Administration. There, she negotiated land contracts, acquisitions and condemnation rights to enable the construction of power lines and facilities to deliver electricity to the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Many of those negotiations were directly between Grace and the private landowners themselves. There, Grace was promoted to G12, a level normally reserved for college-educated, white collar officials, engineers and scientists.
Over the span of her four-decade career with the government, she was heavily pursued to work at different agencies having won dozens of awards for superb performance -- too many for her to count.
After retirement, Grace volunteered heavily on behalf of Elders In Action and the League of Women Voters/Portland while caregiving for her mother, May, and later for her brother, Victor.
Grace was a skilled bowler and participated in Chinese and Japanese American bowling leagues in the 1950’s as segregation would not allow anyone of Asian descent to bowl in white leagues. She reveled in sewing and made many of her own clothes, and was a voracious reader of murder mysteries penned by the greats like Agatha Christie.
Though she lived in Portland her entire life, she traveled the world: Hong Kong, mainland China (twice), Thailand, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain and most notably Tibet in the 1980s long before tourism became popular there.
She is survived by numerous cousins; nieces and nephews, of note Tracy Wong (nephew) who Grace helped raise, his spouse, Jennifer; and great-nieces, Cydney and Lily; and nephew, James.
A service will be held at Lincoln Memorial in Portland, OR, at noon on Tuesday, May 4. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Grace’s honor to either the League of Women Voters/Portland (lwvpdx.org) or the Portland Chinatown Museum (portlandchinatownmuseum.org).
Monday, May 3, 2021
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Tuesday, May 4, 2021