Henry Wai Hon Wong was born on May 25, 1947, in Hong Kong to Wong Ho Ming and Tsui Sin Oi. Henry’s father was an honest policeman during a time of corruption in the force. Henry’s mother took care of him and his four siblings, Yuk Ling, Wai Poi, Wai Hung and Suk Ling. Henry’s mother passed away from cancer when he was only 11 years old. His father later remarried, and he was joined by two more siblings, Sau Ling and Wai Ip. With the exception of Wai Poi, all his siblings live in Seattle and the family bond runs strong with Henry as the Patriarch.
As a young teen, he was very active as a Boy Scout leader. He would take younger scouts to hiking, camping and often climbed the highest mountains in Hong Kong as recreation. His outdoor skills remained with him throughout his life. He loved to fish, pick and eat raw shellfish and was always the designated fire marshal.
Henry graduated from High School and started working as a paralegal for a law firm located in the bustling Mongkok region of Hong Kong. He thrived in his professional life and loved working with people from all walks of life who needed legal help. He also reminisced about happy hours after work with a record of finishing 3 bottles of cognac in one sitting between 3 people. He often recounted on these proud moments during the prime of his life to his friends and children.
Another key milestone at this time was meeting his future wife, Peggy Pui Kum Wong, who had been working in the same building. Peggy had many suitors at the time but was drawn to Henry’s quiet and mysterious demeaner. On their first date, he shared the pain of losing his mother at an early age and shed a couple of tears which melted her heart. She later realized that Henry does not cry easily so it was truly a rare and vulnerable moment. Henry and Peggy married in 1972 and had two children, Bill Wong and Rowena Wong Toguchi.
In 1984, Henry and Peggy made the life altering decision to immigrate to Toronto, Canada, in anticipation for Britain’s handover of Hong Kong back to China. Bill was 10 and Rowena was 7 at the time and they arrived in January when they were welcomed with several feet of snow. Life as new immigrants was challenging but with the help of the family, Henry fulfilled his immigration duty of opening a business: A Chinese take out restaurant called China Chef.
Henry and Peggy’s enterprising spirit was reflected in their joint ventures throughout their lifetime together. From a thriving garment business in New York City after moving there in 1991, to a recycling business, to a jewelry business that ran for over a decade out of the Pike Place Market after they moved across the country to join Rowena in 1999.
Henry watched proudly as both his children graduated from college, found successful careers, met their life partners and became parents of their own. He was always a caring, patient and selfless father. Henry embraced retirement by fully dedicating himself to caring for his grandchildren and playing a critical role in their lives. He was a doting grandfather and smiled the hardest when they were around. Jayden (14), Reese (12), Zoe (12), Kaya (9) and Tyler (4) will always cherish their wonderful memories of their Gong Gong and Yeh Yeh who always cooked their favorite meals.
Henry also travelled the world with his family and friends including memorable trips to his hometown of Hong Kong, Japan, China, Thailand, Germany, Belgium, France, England, Italy, Spain, and many parts of North America.
Henry is loved, adored and respected by everyone; especially his family of almost 100 people from 4 to 85 years old. He has a special connection with each, who will eagerly share their favorite story or details of a meal that was prepared by him. Henry lived for and savored his time with his family, whether it was babysitting or driving his grandchildren around, going to dim sum every day with his own generation, heading to the casino or gathering for frequent parties. He enjoyed red wine, but most of all he loved a good whiskey or cognac. After a few, he will start telling stories about this young Hong Kong days, and even sing a bit of Karaoke. He LOVED to eat delicious food and enjoyed spending hours on end in the kitchen to cook an authentic and intricate Chinese meal for his family. This was his way of loving those around him.
Henry has made lifelong friends who will miss his quiet but impactful presence. He will be remembered for his warm, caring smile, his generosity and humor. He joins his father, mother, Peggy’s mother and his lifelong friend Ho Cheuk Nin in Heaven and will be sorely missed. We will cherish our fond memories of him forever.
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