OBITUARY

Gorman Ah Fong

September 25, 1925August 23, 2021

Gorman Ah Fong, age 95, of National City, California passed away on Monday, August 23, 2021. Gorman was born September 25, 1925 in Guangdong, China.

A celebration of life for Gorman will be held Saturday, September 25, 2021 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Chinese Community Church Fellowship Hall, 4998 Via Valarta, San Diego, CA 92124. Attendees can wear Hawaiian or colorful attire.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.sorrentovalleychapel.com for the Fong family.

COVID Protocols: Temperature checks will be taken, all attendees will need to wear a mask We are asking for RSVP's by Wed, Sept.22 so that we can ensure proper social distancing for seating the attendees RSVP: krma@pacbell.net

To livestream or to view a post-event recording, go to: http://fong.memoryafilms.com/

Services

  • Celebration of Life

    Saturday, September 25, 2021

Memories

Gorman Ah Fong

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Randy Fong

September 11, 2021

Earlier this year, our father/grandfather Gorman and mother/grandmother Delores celebrated their 73rd Anniversary. In Gorman’s words, how they met: “I had met her the previous summer (1942). Uncle Henry had talked me into going on vacation with him. He was working for Peking Restaurant. I was working for my adopted father in a store called ‘Spic N’ Span.’ We went to Armona, which is near Hanford. We went to see his uncle…After dark, I asked Henry, ‘What are we going to do? Can we go to a movie?’ He said, ‘No, there’s no movie house here.’ I said, ‘I hear bowling’s a lot of fun.’ He said, ‘There’s no bowling alley.” So I asked, “’What do they have here?’ He said, ‘Nothing, just a few houses. Tell you what. Tomorrow morning, maybe we can visit the Wong family. They have four girls. Maybe we can talk to the girls.’
When we went, Baw-Baw (mother’s Mom) was very friendly. She said, ‘Tonight, if you people don’t have anything planned, come on over for dinner. It will be a simple meal.’ We said that sounded good.
When we got back to San Diego, I thought we should write a thank-you letter for the hospitality…when Baw-baw got the letter, she wanted to send a letter back inviting us again.
At the time, your mother was the oldest daughter in the house. So, she helped Baw-baw with the letter and sent it to me. I wrote back saying it was very nice she helped write the letter and that she had very nice penmanship. I said I had enjoyed talking with her and that the family had a nice dog. The dog’s name was Lucky. According to your mother, she liked me because I was gentle with her dog. She was brought up with the idea that if someone was nice to animals, that was a good person.”

Ken Yip

September 10, 2021

I always remember the times our family spent summer vacations down in San Diego with Uncle Gorman and his family. Uncle Gorman was both encouraging and having a positive outlook on life when he spoke to me.

Memories I remember most:
Uncle Gorman would take all of us out to the beach at night to go grunion hunting, and one magical night the grunion were running. It is the only time I fished with just my hands and I remember we caught a lot of them. The following day Uncle Gorman took us all over to Nan King Restaurant to have them fried up to eat with our other dinner items that were ordered.
I also remember working a couple of weeks, one summer, at Uncle Gorman's grocery store. I enjoyed it immensely as I learned the inner working process in keeping a grocery store running successfully!
Uncle Gorman along with his three children (Kathy, Terri, and Randy) taught me and my two younger siblings how to play ping pong. This encourged my parents to buy a ping pong table for the family.
When our family got our dog (Chow Mien) it was due in part to Uncle Goman's family dog (Dino) of which I and my two siblings got along with very well when we visited.

Most recently watching Uncle Gorman speak of his WWII war experiences over in Europe (in the Battle of the Bulge) and seeing his tribute in the book "Fighting on all Fronts (Profiles of World War II Chinese Americans from the Golden State) were interesting and heart warming.

We miss Uncle Gorman and are forever grateful for the loving memories he instilled in us.

Ken Yip and Family

Randy Fong

September 4, 2021

When World War II took place, our father/grandfather Gorman, like almost 20,000 other Americans, answered the call to service (U.S. Army, Jan. 1944 to April 1946. 254th Field Artillery Battalion cannoneer, Tec 5). Some recollections:
“Over time, all the noise from what we did took away much of my hearing. Others I served with were wounded, some with life-long injuries. Others gave their lives. Out of our original 12-member unit, 6 came home alive. This is all part of the price many in the service pay when our country is at war.”
“One close call I remember was when a buddy and I were in the Red Cross camp. Some other people were meandering around and talking a bit. My buddy and I decided to walk back to our gun positions. No more than 5 minutes after we left, a mortar fell on the Red Cross tenting. There were serious casualties.
Another time, our unit was taking shelter in a German family’s house. We were on the second floor. We had to report back right away. As soon as we walked out of the gate, a mortar shell landed right in the yard. If we had walked out 30 seconds later, we probably would have been blown apart.
A third close call was when the Germans launched a huge counter-offensive on the highway. This was during the Battle of the Bulge. The Stars and Stripes newspaper actually reported that the battery I was in was a sacrifice battery. This meant we had been wiped out…At the time, we could actually hear the Panzer tanks coming. We even asked our retreating soldiers who was defending us. We were told we were defending them as they went to the rear. Soon, we saw a big formation of aircraft that was bombing the heck out of the enemy. Maybe that’s why we were saved. If we didn’t have the air support, probably everyone one of us would have been killed or captured.”

Randy Fong

September 4, 2021

Led by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance/CACA, grassroots advocacy resulted in Congress passing and the President signing into law in 2018 The Chinese American WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act. By 2020, more than 90% of “America’s Greatest Generation” were no longer with us to receive their Congressional Gold Medal in-person. Fortunately, our father/grandfather Gorman was.
Years earlier, he had written of his experience: “Everyone…remembers the threat we all faced and how each of us, in our own way, tried to help protect our freedom and end the war...When you go into war, you have to be thinking about your own mortality. After a while, when you see your comrades start to fall one-by-one, you start to question why you’re being spared. I did feel some fear the first time we moved against the enemy in darkness. But perhaps strangely after I saw some of my own unit members killed, I was no longer afraid. I felt then that it was up to God when my time on this earth was over…
Like most other veterans I served with, I do not look on my service as particularly heroic. Rather the service was part of the responsibility we all have in safeguarding freedom, which we can’t afford to take for granted.”
In March 2021, Grace and Ricky Leo of CACA—Los Angeles presented Gorman the Congressional Gold Medal. When he received it, Gorman said, “War is horrible. I hope we can learn to settle problems peacefully, not by war.”

Randy Fong

August 31, 2021

When we were growing up, our father Gorman expected As from us children. Bs were barely tolerable, and Cs a disappointment. Looking at his own public school experiences, it’s understandable why he set those standards. In his own words:
“School was very difficult (in Fresno, CA). I was 14 and one-half. When you’re just starting with ‘A-B-C’, you’re nine years older than the average kid in this country starting school. You feel out-of-place.
When my first teacher asked, “What’s your name”, I didn’t answer because I didn’t know what she was talking about. The other students who had been there told me to give her my Chinese name. But when I told her, she said, ‘Your name is no longer Gum Ah Fong. Your name is Gorman.”
After 1941, my adopted father thought I could learn to speak English faster and better if I worked where there were more English-speaking people. So, he talked to another cousin from the same village who had a restaurant in Santa Ana on Main Street…
Especially when I was in Santa Ana, other kids would follow me home. They’d laugh at the way I pronounced words. The teacher I had would always call me up to give current events. I’d mispronounce, and the other kids thought it was funny. It got to a point where I didn’t like school. The school sent a report home that it couldn’t promote me if I kept being absent.
So, I had to retrain myself. I realized that if I was going to let other people make fun of me and I then stayed away, that meant I wouldn’t be able to face the challenges I would face in life…life is full of choices. I had to choose to at least give myself a chance to improve. If people laughed, let them laugh. That shouldn’t stop me from trying. I changed my attitude.
Hardship didn’t come from the exterior, but from what I imposed on myself in saying ‘I’m afraid of this.’ I learned once I made my mind to face something, then it was no longer a hardship but instead became a challenge to focus on, a goal to reach and strive f

Aron Lau

August 30, 2021

When I think of Goo Ang, the word that comes to mind is joy. This is how I felt when I visited your house when I was young. This is how I felt when I heard your stories and your words of encouragement. This is how I felt when I see the smile on your face. This is how I will feel when I reflect on those memories we have together. As we go through life, the evidence of our existence is based on what world we leave behind. Thank you for making this world a happier place. You will be missed.

Vedder Li

August 29, 2021

Uncle Gorman/ Goo Ang

I know you are looking down on this and us, and truly know how loved and respected he really was. Uncle Gorman was honorable, kind, charismatic and he was so loving and giving.

Never will I forget the stories you told me of your struggles early on to what a successful accomplished family man you became. Listening to those stories were utmost inspiring and made me want to become just like you one day. But I realized that that was impossible as you were unique in such a absolute way. I will always hold those stories close to my heart and I will cherish them forever.

I cannot give enough thanks to you Uncle Gorman as you were the first one to come out to the America in uncertain times and working through much adversity you managed to bring “Ah Baw” out to America and that started a whole new beginning for many families in unimaginable ways, I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for you, and I will be forever indebted to you.

I will miss you dearly and think of you often, and I can’t wait to hear more stories when we meet again for dim sum.

LORETTA AH-TYE

August 29, 2021

My memories of Gorman are: He was one of a kind; you never had to ask "Which Gorman or Gorman who?". There was only one man with that name and he was a kind, personable, friendly, helpful, and handsome one.
I felt like kin to Delores and Gorman because we shared our somewhat uncommon Chinese dialect. We went on many trips with them, from golfing ones in Arizona, fall foliage in New England and Canada and to the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany. The last was when we were included in the group rate of the Fong family trip to China.
We have so many fond memories of Gorman. He never spoke an unkind word or complained; he always had a smile, was polite and had something good to say.
We'll miss you, but know you're in a better place making more friends.
Loretta and Perry Ah-Tye

Lily Lau

August 29, 2021

My family and I always showed our utmost respect and admiration for Goo Ang. Indeed, he was a man with exceptional character. He showed that anything is possible in the face of adversity with strength, courage, diligence, and perseverance. Of course, he was also very brilliant. I still remember my visits to Goo Ang’s house with my family when I was young. My mother used to say that I am bound to learn something from him as he was a very wise man. Indeed, his many life journeys always kept me on my toes and I would be so impressed by his road to success. But what stood out most was his interest and care toward each of us. He would always ask about our dreams and remind us that he was very proud of our accomplishments.

My bond with Goo Ang grew exponentially when I went to college in San Diego. I was a teenager who moved to a new city and did not know anyone. He immediately welcomed me with open arms and the brightest smile. He reminded me that I did, in fact, have family – I felt so safe and loved in his presence. My favorite memory was our annual holiday dinner at his church with all of my friends. The night was one we would all get so excited about – it was always filled with his fascinating stories, too many laughs, and great conversations. We all adored him. Our holiday dinners were so special and will always remain dear to my heart.

I got very fortunate in this lifetime that Goo Ang was my granduncle. I will miss him so much. His contagious smile, warm heart, and wisdom will leave an everlasting impact. He is the epitome of an excellent human being and truly one of a kind.


Randy Fong

August 29, 2021

Like other immigrants, our father/grandfather Gorman had experiences that still inspire us today. He shared the following with us years ago:
“I left China in 1938. When the news got down to Southern China that the Japanese had invaded, my adoptive mother wanted to save my life from possible harm. She thought the best idea was to send me abroad.
My uncle in the United States had already claimed me as one of his sons. My uncle and aunt had already adopted me, so I really wasn’t a ‘paper son.”
I left from Hong Kong. I had mixed feelings (at age 13)…you’re leaving people you grew up with, and all of a sudden, you’re shipping off to the unknown.
Most of us were in the hull in what you might call third-class storage. You would be in a big room with eight to ten beds. The food wasn’t good.
The trip took about three or four weeks.
Conditions at Angel Island were not easy. Occasionally, you’d hear of people who got so discouraged that they killed themselves.
The immigration people on Angel Island didn’t treat you like a guest. Sometimes, by the way they used their voice or how they acted, you felt threatened.
They don’t just interview you once. You keep going back until they feel they have enough to make a decision. I had no contact with my adoptive father. So, while you’re there (on Angel lsland), you suffer in silence.
To pass the day, I learned different dialects of Chinese, how to play cards and how to gamble. I played ping-pong, and read Chinese novels.
One day, one of the staff told me, ‘You’re free to go.’ They didn’t give you an explanation. I had been there November, 1938 to April 1940. ‘A boat will be here in a couple of hours to pick you up,’ they told me.
I felt great relief and anxiety. You don’t know what you’re going to do even though you have a sponsor here.
Ever since that time, I’ve never tried to anticipate the future. I just do the best I can. I try not to have too much second-guessing about the past."

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Gorman came to the United States from China when he was 13 years old, arriving at Angel Island. He spent his teenage years in Fresno and Santa Ana. Upon graduation from high school, he was inducted into the U.S. Army and served in the 254th Field Artillery Battalion. He was especially proud of his part in the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, Gorman graduated from college and married the love of his life, Delores. They raised their three children--Kathy, Terri and Randy-- in San Diego. Gorman enjoyed success as a business owner and later as a commercial realtor.

More than anything, Gorman loved his family, good food, and being able to light up the room with his ready smile and quick wit.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 4:00 pm. Attendees can wear Hawaiian or colorful attire.

Chinese Community Church Fellowship Hall
4998 Via Vallarta
San Diego, CA 92124

Please Note: We will be following COVID-19 protocols of the church which include, temperature checks, face masks and social distancing. Please RSVP if you would like to attend the services by Wednesday, September 22, 2021. The family wants to insure we have the appropriate seating for social distancing. RSVP to: krma@pacbell.net

To livestream or to view a post-event recording, go to:
http://fong.memoryafilms.com/

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Chinese Community Church, Leadership Endowment Fund. Please send any donations to:

The Fong Family
2760 E. 4th St., M-515
National City, CA 91950-3089