Wing Fong Chin
November 3, 1935 – November 4, 2020
Lily was born Wong Wing Fong in Toisan City, China. She was born on November 3, 1935, and she died exactly one day after her 85th birthday, on November 4, 2020. She passed away peacefully and in the loving company of her husband of almost 62 years.
Lily was the second-oldest of seven children born to Yet Har Lee and Hong Wei Wong. At a young age, she and her family fled their village on many occasions during wartime. When the war ended, she resumed her life in the village with her growing family. During her teenage years, she lived and went to school both in Toisan and in Guangzhou.
At the age of 17, she joined her father in Hong Kong, where he had gone after the Communist takeover in China. She attended Hip Wo High School, then started working as a salesgirl at the Swato Embroidery store to support her family.
Her life changed dramatically when she met her future husband, Gee Mun, in 1958. They were introduced through Gee Mun’s cousin and started dating. “He was nice to me,” Lily told her daughter years later. “We went to nightclubs … and cheap movies.”
Gene and Lily were married in a Hong Kong church on January 3, 1959. Using money Gene had saved up during his stint in the Navy, they hosted 20 tables of friends and family members at a wedding celebration.
Gene flew to Portland soon after the wedding. Lily lived in a rented apartment in Hong Kong until she was allowed to immigrate to the United States six months later.
That was the beginning of their new life in Portland. Gene worked two jobs to help them get established. Lily set up their household, went to night school to better her English and prepared to become a mother. Six years and four kids later, they led busy lives as the parents of Dennis, Michael, Marianne and Rodney.
Even when Lily began experiencing the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, she kept the family and the house in great shape. When she wasn’t driving kids to school, doctor appointments, Cub Scouts and dance classes, she loved to cook, crochet and sew. She created countless “twin” outfits for herself and her daughter. She made Halloween costumes and supervised piano and clarinet practices. And in the kitchen, she mastered classic all-American recipes, including these family favorites – spaghetti, pork chops with sauerkraut and, of course, banana bread.
Lily added “restaurant owner” to her job duties in 1974, when she and Gene opened the Hong Kong Restaurant. After retiring in 1992, they traveled throughout Asia and to California to visit their grandchildren – Ty, Nathan, Matthew, Michelle and Corinna. Sadly, a sixth grandchild, Brendan, died as an infant.
Lily loved to watch American soap operas, like The Secret Storm and The Edge of Night. She also watched Chinese soap operas with Gene, as well as old TV shows. She indulged Gene’s love of Westerns by sitting through many, many episodes of Gunsmoke and Bonanza. And there was a time when she knew the names of every Portland Trail Blazer basketball player and never missed a game. Lily and Gene drove to the Oregon coast frequently, with regular stops at the casino. Lily could sit for hours at a penny slot machine, and they often celebrated her wins with a big buffet dinner.
Lily always took good care of everybody around her, sometimes before she took care of herself. Her family will miss her very much.
Memorial contributions Lily’s family suggests donations be made in her honor to the Arthritis Foundation