IN MEMORY OF
MS RENEE KWANG-MING NIEH
Clyde Tsung-Kong Nieh
October 2, 2000
I wrote this article to commemorate my Aunt Renee Nieh. I felt that knowing the historical background of her time would provide a better appreciation of her personality and her character. Thus, I included some historical notes. I realize that inevitably there will be errors and controversy associated with the inclusion.
In order to stay objective, I wrote this article as a third person watching the time and life of Ms Renee Nieh, and the people around her. When I referred to Aunt Renee and other relatives by their names, I was not being disrespectful. It was only a way of presenting the material.
The romanization of the Chinese names was based on my own sense of the sounds of the characters. It may not conform to any recognized system of romanization.
Ms RENEE KWANG-MING NIEH
Ms. Renee Kwang-Ming Nieh was the oldest sister who grew up to adulthood of Mr. Tony Kwang-Kai Nieh. Renee had two older brothers, Kwang-Jun and Richard, two younger brothers, Tony, and Leon, and one younger sister, Diana. Renee was born in 1912 and passed away in 1991, just after her eightieth birthday, according to the Chinese way of reckoning age. She never married but lived a full and generous life.
Renee’s Chinese name, Kwang-Ming, means bright light. Her close relatives called her “Foo”, which means good fortune in Chinese. Both these names faithfully reflected her characteristics and personality. She was gregarious and vivacious. She brought hope and happiness to people around her. She would lend a helping hand whenever she could. She did it not for name recognition or any material reward. That was just how she lived her life. Friends and relatives could always count on Renee for advice and assistance. It was a great fortune for anyone to know Renee.
Renee stood up for the truth against all odds. She lived life to the fullest. She blazed new trails, expanded her horizons, looked at issues with fresh viewpoints, and faced challenges with courage. That was how she thrived even though she lived in a turbulent period in Chinese history. While her family and society as a whole went through difficult periods and suffered unspeakable tragedies, she adapted, evolved and triumphed.
She was filial to her parents and respectful to her elders. In fact, we will see how she dedicated her life to honor the last request of her beloved mother. Following the Chinese tradition, she venerated her elders beyond their existence in this world. She did that not out of superstition, but with a genuine concern for their well being in the world beyond, just as she did for her friends and relatives who were alive.
While she did not have children of her own, she was the favorite aunt of all her nephews and nieces, and a beloved grand aunt to their children, an even younger generation. She had a natural knack with children because she genuinely loved them and cared for them with an open heart. Renee devoted time to be with them. She advised them on how to live, what to do, and helped them to realize their full potential, but she did not preach. She spoke her mind with consideration for their feelings. Children responded to her sincerity in kind.
To her relatives and her friends, she personified loyalty and amiability. You could always discuss your problems openly with her. Using her perceptive mind, experience in the society and a positive attitude, Renee usually came up with solutions or alternatives that were both practical and refreshing. That was one of her great attraction to the young and old alike.
EARLY LIFE IN CHINA
The Niehs were natives of the village of Hengshan, in Hunan Province; however, Renee and her siblings were born and raised in Shanghai, Jiangsu Province. Renee was born into a well-to-do family who had made their fortune in industry in Shanghai. She was used to luxury in her early years, but she retained her empathy for the poor and the weak.
Mr. Nie Qiwei, Renee’s father, and his brother revitalized the Heng Feng Cotton Mill in the early 1900’s. The Nieh family had previously owned this factory jointly with another family. Upon the retirement of the head of that family, he sold his family’s ownership of the cotton mill to the Nieh family. Later on, due to a difference in management style with his brother, Qiwei divested his interest in the factory and became a banker.
Qiwei worked at first as a vice president of a semi-official bank. He was forced out of that position when he refused to comply with a request for four million dollars from the President of China, Yuan Shi-Kai (Reference 1). The demand did not comply with the rules of the bank, and to yield would have compromised Qiwei's principles and his adherence to the law. His courageous refusal preserved the financial integrity of the bank but dashed his prospects in the institution. In China where compliance with the wishes of the higher authority usually takes precedence over compliance with the law, Qiwei’s action was exceptional and is an example for his descendents. Afterward, Qiwei assisted a friend and worked as a vice president of a private bank.
China was undergoing a turbulent period throughout the time Renee lived there. People of her generation in general suffered tremendously because of numerous civil wars, foreign invasions, and also from natural disasters such as famines, and floods. The country suffered horrible defeats in wars against world powers. Foreign armies at one time even overran the capital, Beijing. Internally, corruption was rampant. Civil service positions were up for sale.
Revolutionary movements against the Qing dynasty had been started and failed in many cities. In 1911, the revolution inspired by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen finally succeeded in Hangkou. The Qing dynasty collapsed in the year of Renee’s birth. Later, the President of China, Yuan Shi-Kai, tried to reinstate the imperial system and failed, all within three months. Thereafter, various warlords governed different provinces of China. The power struggle between the warlords and between political parties of different philosophy caused great suffering to the citizen. The central government was bankrupted and ineffective. The country continued to slide into chaos and disarray.
At the same time, China had become a quasi-colony of many foreign countries. The area occupied by each foreign country was known as a Concession. This situation continued even after the collapse of the Qing dynasty. Foreigners in China abused their power and killed randomly innocent citizens. Their occupation of China was an insult to the national pride. The Chinese citizen felt strongly against the ineptness of the government. The students and the workers manifested in street parades their dissatisfaction to the injustice, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai. Beijing was the academic center of the country. Shanghai had become the most important commercial port and industrial center in central China. The police and the foreign occupiers killed some flower of Chinese youth in various national tragedies and days of infamy. The foreigners even controlled Chinese national institutions, such as the customs service and the justice system concerning foreigners who committed crimes in China.
Chinese had little right when confronted by any foreigner or even other Chinese who were protected by foreign interest. The typical Chinese lost any vestige of self-respect and had little control over his fate in his own country when confronted by foreign interest. The Chinese commerce and industry were devastated by the excessive and abusive foreign domination. The factory outputs were considered to be of lower quality. The native crafts, medicine and religions were debased and relegated to inconsequence. Poverty was the rule. People struggled from dawn to dusk just to eke out a minimal subsistence. They were victimized by the oppressive lack of daily necessities, such as food, clean water, education and medicines. They were then despised for the wretched conditions of their subsistence.
Renee was luckier than most of her contemporaries. Besides enjoying material well being in her youth, she also enjoyed good companionship. Her father had eleven brothers and sisters. She had four brothers and a sister that lived to adulthood. She socialized with numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins in the extended family. She was accustomed to being surrounded by large numbers of people of culture refinement. Good manners were ingrained in her from childhood. She developed skills in human interactions in the family environment. Private tutors educated her at home for her primary education. She attended the famous McTyre Girls’ School in Shanghai for her secondary education.
The fortune of the Nieh family deteriorated, like the living condition of the general population in China. The decline was due to the unstable central and local governments, outdated factories, management style and education institutes, numerous commercial upheavals and unequal foreign treaties. Heng Feng Cotton Mill suffered economic losses due to management problems, obsolete equipment and labor troubles. The factory was under severe financial burdens and shortage of capital. The interest payments to the bank eroded the company earning. The company lost its luster as a premier industry of the country. Renee enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle in her youth. Dividends distributed by the Heng Feng Cotton Mill supplemented the family income, but income declined with the deterioration of the family fortune.
Unlike the typical woman of her generation, Renee did not get married upon maturity. When she graduated from high school, she went to work for various companies. She manifested her independent spirit early in life.
Around 1934, Renee accompanied her beloved mother, née Liu, to visit a temple in Hangzhou. Liu’s father, Mr. Liu Zi, had been a second grade viscount and financial commissioner of the Shanxi Province, during the Qing dynasty. Renee’s mother suffered a massive stroke in the course of the journey. Since she had also suffered a stroke six years earlier, this time she realized that her condition was terminal. On her deathbed, she requested that Renee take care of her two younger brothers and one younger sister: Tony, Leon and Diana.
In those days, the mother normally took care of the family and the father was only responsible for earning a living. Hence, in the absence of their mother, the younger siblings would need someone to nurture them. Renee dedicated her life to the best of her ability to discharge this commitment. In fact, she took care of not only her younger siblings, but other family members as well.
From 1937 onward, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Manchuria and China. The Japanese occupation started from the north and expanded quickly to the central and southern parts of China. The occupation lasted until the second half of 1945, the end of World War II. The living conditions of Chinese all over the country went from bad to worse. The villagers could hardly afford enough food for their family. The national government moved its capital from Nanjing to Chunking temporarily. Large numbers of Chinese, among them, two of Renee’s brothers, escaped from the occupied zone. They suffered great tribulations along the way. They were under constant air attacks and were shot at by the Japanese and also by bandits along the way. The Japanese and their conspirators occupied and ruled over 70% of the population centers of China, including Shanghai.
The remainder of Qiwei’s branch of the family - Renee’s father and her other siblings - stayed behind in Shanghai. During the war Qiwei lost a major portion of his fortune to the combined depredations of Japanese invaders and native robbers.
Qiwei’s mother, Mrs. Nie Zeng Jifen, was the youngest daughter of the famous Qing dynasty governor general, Zeng Guo-fan. Zeng was the general who had conquered the Taiping revolutionary movement, and restored the Qing emperor to the throne in the nineteenth century. Mrs. Nie Zeng Jifen was a dedicated Christian. She comforted the family members, advising them not to be preoccupied with material loss due to the wars and tribulations. She told them that the important thing was that they had survived the disasters with their lives and health (Reference 2). Material goods were replaceable. She was more concerned about the health and well being of even the servants than the family fortune.
Renee’s grandfather, Mr. Nie Qigui, was the governor of Anhui, Jiangsu and Jejiang Provinces at various periods during the Qing dynasty. When Qigui’s mother passed away, he was inconsolable. He passed away in the same year, 1911 at the age of fifty-six (Reference 3). Mrs. Nie Zeng Jifen became the matriarch of the clan, and was responsible for handing down the family values and virtues. She donated money regularly for the care and education of orphans. Under her guidance, the family donated land and other resources to establish a middle school in memory of her husband. She prepared and distributed, for free, herbal medicines to the needy, based on formulas the family had preserved over the years. Some ancestors of the Niehs had been herbal doctors. When she passed away in 1942, it was a great loss to the Nieh family, as well as to society in general. Fortunately for the family, Renee inherited and manifested a lot of her grandmother’s virtues and was ready to continue the guardianship of the family.
STARTED HER OWN COMPANY, KWANG-TA TRADING COMPANY
Renee was not satisfied with leading a passive life in luxury. In her private life, she enjoyed music, dancing and sports. Renee also worked hard and excelled in her professional assignments. Her performance and her skill at work were recognized immediately by her superiors, among them Mr. Herbert Gallop. Her career advanced with assignments of increasing responsibilities. Soon, in conjunction with her brother, Richard, Renee started a trading company. That company was named Kwang-Ta Trading Company. It imported paper and machinery to China.
聂光明不满足于过现成的舒适生活。她平时喜爱音乐、舞蹈和体育运动。同时聂光明也努力工作，并因表现出色而获得优厚的报酬。她的表现和工作技能立即受到上司们的赏识，其中一位名叫 Herbert Gallop。随着责任的加重，她的事业也在向前发展。不久之后，聂光明联合他的哥哥聂光坻一起创办了一家贸易公司。这家公司称作“光达贸易商行”，它进口纸张和机械设备。
Renee treated her employees with her innate kindness and generosity. In return, they worked hard for the company and were dedicated to her with undying loyalty. Tony worked at the Hong Kong branch of the company for a few years in the later part of the 1930’s. He brought his wife, Janet, and his children back to Shanghai after the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in December 1941 [Hereafter, Tony’s family is referred to as the family and his children are referred to as the children]. For a period of time, Leon also worked at the headquarter of the company, which was located in Shanghai.
Clyde was too young to know much about the company, but one thing has stayed vividly in his mind. Once, Kwang-Ta Company imported an electrical shooting gallery to Shanghai. The player had to stand on a rubber mate to insulate himself against electrical shocks. He would aim a simulated rifle to shoot at moving objects parading at the game station, which was located about fifteen feet away from the player. The object would lay down flat if it were shot electrically. A technician, named Mr. Jian, would supervise the kids to ensure their safety. This machine was a novelty, and the children waited in line for a chance to play.
When the Japanese first invaded Shanghai, they and the native bandits destroyed the Nieh family mansion, located in Hongkou, Shanghai. Later on, Renee’s father, the wife of Renee’s oldest brother and their son, Tony’s family, Leon and his wife (Jian Chen), and Renee all lived together in a four-story house located on Lafayette Street. The house was situated in the French concession of Shanghai. Renee’s oldest brother was killed in an air raid during the war against the Japanese and did not return to Shanghai after the war. Renee’s other brother, Richard, and his family lived separately in Shanghai. Her sister, Diana, married Mr. Vincent Shi-Jing Kuai, an electrical engineer who had graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a BS degree in electrical engineering. Their family also lived separately in Shanghai.
Renee was known for her kindness and patience with children. She would entertain her nephews and nieces whenever possible. In spite of her busy schedule, she took time out to bring the children to visit her friends. One of them was a florist. This Jewish lady operated a store near the family residence. Clyde can still remember the scent of fresh-cut flowers that permeated the store. Sometimes Renee and the kids would shop at a supermarket operated by foreigners. Again, this was a rarity since at that period most Chinese were only accustomed to Chinese food, and could hardly afford imported luxuries. Renee would bring home tasty treats or prepare exotic dishes such as fresh strawberries with cream. To the children, the morsels that she procured from the stores or she prepared herself were always great treats. They also enjoyed listening to Renee tell stories. They passed many happy hours of childhood with her.
THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
After China won the war against Imperial Japan, the Chinese Nationalist government returned to reclaim the Japanese-occupied zones. The lives of the native population hardly improved, even in comparison to wartime conditions. The returning government officials interfered greatly with civilian lives. They confiscated many companies and private properties under the pretence that they had been enemy possessions, but pocketed the proceeds themselves. The Heng Feng Cotton Mill suffered a similar fate. There was little redress against such abuses unless the property owner himself was connected to some other powerful government official or paid a bribe. Corruption was even worse than during the last years of the Qing dynasty.
The civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists renewed soon after the end of World War II. The country was in the throes of several government-induced hyperinflation cycles. The currency lost its value so rapidly that no one would keep paper money on hand. The government forced the citizen to exchange gold and foreign currency to the paper money under the penalty of death. The personal wealth of the middle class in general and that of the Niehs in particular were practically wiped out in a short period of time. The Nationalists lost the confidence and support of the population. By 1949, the Communists occupied the whole country, except Taiwan Province and established the People’s Republic of China, with the capital located in Beijing. The Nationalists moved the country’s wealth and other national treasures to Taiwan.
Tony worked for the United Nations as an interpreter during the civil war. He escaped to Hong Kong in the same year to avoid the possibility of persecution by the new government. Janet single-handedly brought her five children to Hong Kong in 1951. Renee stayed in Shanghai until 1953. Private enterprise became impossible in the new China. She then migrated to Japan to revitalize her trading company.
LIFE IN JAPAN
Renee re-opened a branch office of the Kwang-Ta Trading Company in Japan after she arrived there in 1953. The store was located in the city of Yokohama. Tony maintained contact with Renee through correspondence while she lived in Japan. Tony and Renee were both prolific letter writers. The family learned about Renee’s colorful life in Japan. Occasionally the family would see her through pictures that she enclosed in the letters. She appeared to be an enigma to the children, since she lived in a social environment so different from theirs. She kept a small brown dog as pet. She grew vegetables in her garden. She employed a gentle and faithful Japanese lady as housekeeper.
Throughout those years, she packed various items carefully and asked her sailor friends to bring them to Tony and the family in Hong Kong. In those packages, the family would find china rice bowls, plates, snack treats, mushrooms that she pickled in oil, and soybeans that she grew in the garden, boiled in salted water and sun-dried. There were also toys, stationery and books for the children. She sent several sets of bamboo fishing rods at one time, and even some records of music written by Steven Foster, which were great favorites of Tony. It was always a happy occasion for the children when the family received a package from Renee. These packages spoke of her generosity and more importantly, her love. The children’s curiosity would not be abated until Tony opened it and revealed the new surprises. The family benefited from Renee’s thoughtfulness, and appreciated her generosity.
VISITED HONG KONG ON THE WAY TO THE USA
Around 1958, Renee applied for an immigration visa to America and was accepted. She boarded a fright ship, which carried a few passengers along for the trip. The ship passed through Hong Kong and Guam on the way to the USA. When the ship stopped in Hong Kong, the children brought some roses to Renee at her hotel, which was situated in Kowloon.
The family decided to see Renee off when the ship departed from Hong Kong. A dear and common friend of Renee and Tony, Mr. Y. D. Chow, was a well-known photographer among the acquaintance. He volunteered to take pictures. As an added treat, he used color film, which was still a novelty in Hong Kong at that time. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. There was no sun on the day of departure. The pictures came out acceptable, but did not have the brilliant colors to which Mr. Chow aspired.
STARTED A NEW LIFE IN THE USA
Renee started a new life in San Francisco, CA. When she arrived, living conditions were more difficult for her than ever before. Her personal wealth was greatly diminished due the adversities and frequent moves from place to place. Yet, she maintained her spirit. She started over again through her own efforts, at the bottom of the job market and at a more mature age. She even worked once as a sales clerk, for minimum wage, in a bazaar in San Francisco Chinatown. It was quite a comedown for someone who had once owned and operated her own international trading company. Yet, she had too much confidence in herself to allow the reversed circumstance to define her worth.
Renee did not let the descent in social status affect her spirit, but worked industriously with her usual enthusiasm and competence. Soon she found a job working for the Security Pacific Bank (This Bank was later purchased by the Bank of America). She worked in the Trust Department. Her supervisor was a gentleman named Carlos Allegra (?). She worked there until her retirement.
聂光明并没有让社会条件的低落影响自己的精神，相反地她以过去一贯的热情与能力奋力地工作。她很快在the Security Pacific Bank找到了工作（这家银行后来被美国银行收购了）。她在信贷部工作，她的上司是一位名叫Carlos Allegra (?)的绅士。她在那里一直工作到退休。
Renee rented an apartment at 625 Bush Street when she first arrived in San Francisco. True to her nature, she befriended a whole new group of people soon. Shortly afterwards, she purchased a house jointly with two friends, Jerry and Hank Roth. The house was located at 554 23rd Avenue, in the Richmond district of San Francisco. She stayed on the middle floor, Hank stayed on the third floor, and Jerry stayed on the first floor. Jerry soon sold his shared ownership of the house to Hank. The first floor was then rented to a Swiss, named Adolf, for many years. This house became the center of social gatherings for Renee’s friends and relatives later on. Renee lived there until the end of her days.
初到旧金山的时候，聂光明在Bush街625号租了一套公寓。出于她善以待人的天性，她很快地又结交了一个新的社交圈子。不久之后，他和两个朋友，Jerry 和 Hank Roth，合买了一所房子。这所房子坐落在旧金山的Richmond区，第23大街554号。聂光明住了中间一层，Hank住在三楼，Jerry则住在底层。Jerry不久就把属于他自己的这部分房产卖给了Hank。底层的房子接着租给了一个瑞士人，这位名叫阿道夫（Adolf）的瑞士人在那里住了很多年。这所房子后来成为聂光明的朋友和亲戚们的社交聚会的中心。聂光明直到去世一直住在那里。
APPLIED FOR IMMIGRATION VISA FOR TONY’S FAMILY
Living in Hong Kong was a little hard for Tony and the family. He had a reasonable job. But supporting a family of seven on the salary of a clerk alone was tight. In addition, the children were advancing in their schools. Edward and Sidney were both already enrolled in universities by the beginning of 1960. It would be more difficult for Tony when the rest of the children were ready for college.
A neighbor of the family ambushed Sidney one day for some unknown reason, and cracked open his head. Sidney was taken to a hospital for emergency treatment. After that incident, Tony and Renee decided that the family should move to a place where the children would have more opportunities for advancement and would be safer.
In 1961, large numbers of Chinese from mainland China escaped to Hong Kong to avoid famine and political upheavals. Drowning or exhaustion killed many escapees before they reached Hong Kong. Their bodies, some of those were bound, floated along the East River to Hong Kong. The scenes of destitution shocked the sensitivities of American citizens. President John F. Kennedy initiated a Parolee Program, allowing Chinese refugees to live in the USA on temporary visas, until they were qualified to apply for permanent residential status.
在1961年，大量的中国人从大陆偷渡到香港以逃避灾荒和政治迫害。很多偷渡者没有到达香港之前就精疲力尽而被淹死。他们的尸体，有些还是被捆绑着的，沿着东河（East River）漂到香港。这种惨像震惊了美国公众。约翰.肯尼迪总统签署了一份法案（Parolee Program），允许中国难民以临时签证居住在美国，直到他们有资格申请永久居住权。
Renee took advantage of that offer and applied for immigration permission for Tony’s family. Her generous friends, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Loomis, and Mr. and Mrs. George Takada sponsored the family. X-ray films of Tony’s wife, Janet, revealed signs of tuberculosis. A kind Swedish doctor agreed to care for Janet as needed. This promise removed one condition that the USA Immigration Service had imposed for approval of immigration. The family finally received the good news of approval, but it faced one additional hardship: paying for transportation. Renee’s housemate, Hank, loaned money to Tony for that purpose.
聂光明利用这个机会为聂光垲一家提出移民申请。她的朋友杰.克鲁米斯（Jack Loomis）夫妇和乔治.塔卡达（George Takada）夫妇慷慨地为他们全家提供了担保。聂光垲的妻子陈梦珍经X光检查发现患有肺结核。一位仁慈的瑞典医生同意根据需要照看陈梦珍。这一允诺消除了美国移民当局批准移民申请的障碍。他们一家终于收到了批准移民的好消息，然而却又遇到了新的困难：要支付一笔搬家的费用。与聂光明合住一所房子的汉克（Hank）先生借了一笔钱给聂光垲搬家。
The immigration of Tony and the family to the USA was a godsend opportunity, but it was consummated only with tremendous effort by Renee and the generous offers of her friends. The willingness of Renee’s friends to help total strangers was a reflection of Renee’s personality and her friendship with them. Those qualities were what induced her friends to help Tony and the family.
It was quite a task to move a family of seven from Hong Kong to San Francisco. Sidney was already enrolled at Southern Methodist University in Texas at that time. He had arrived in the USA about eight months earlier. The family brought over possessions accumulated over a twelve-year stay in Hong Kong. In fact, Tony and Edward even procured some additional furniture for the trip. Due to the large quantity of luggage, it was impractical for the family to travel by air. The family traveled to San Francisco in a ship called “President Wilson”. The ship took 19 days to cross the Pacific Ocean, and docked at Pier 40 in San Francisco on February 19, 1963. Clyde still remembered how the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, and wondered if the chimneys would clear the bridge. It was an overcast day, but the family looked forward to a brighter future in the New World. This opportunity was a priceless gift from Renee to her brother Tony and the family.
ASSISTED TONY’S FAMILY IN SETTLING DOWN
Prior to the arrival of the family, Renee had already located and rented for them an apartment at 1276 Jackson Avenue, near Chinatown. Miss Chow, a friend of Renee, informed her of the place, and Renee immediately secured it with a deposit. Miss Chow even requested that the owner paint the apartment before the family moved in. The place was spacious compared to the house in which the family had resided in Hong Kong. The view was excellent. One could see the Bay Bridge from the front windows and the Golden Gate Bridge from the rear windows. The world famous Hyde Street Cable Car ran in front of the main entrance of the building.
在他们一家到达之前，聂光明就在唐人街附近的Jackson路1276号为他们找好并租下了一套公寓。聂光明的一位朋友周小姐通知她有这样一处待出租的房子，聂光明立刻跑去付下了定金。周小姐还请房东在他们到达之前把公寓粉刷了一遍。这套房子比他们在香港的住所更为宽敞，望出去视野极佳，从前窗可以看到海湾大桥，从后窗可以看到金门大桥。世界闻名的Hyde Street Cable Car就从这幢房子的门前驶过。
Tony and the family faced a whole new set of challenges before they settled down in the USA. Tony needed a job and the children needed to enroll in schools. Fortunately, Renee and her many friends extended their hands once again to assist them.
ENROLLED THE CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS
In compliance with the state laws, all children below college level had to be enrolled in school during the school year. The children had studied English in Hong Kong, but were not as fluent as they needed to be in order to communicate on a daily basis. A very dear friend, Mrs. Helen Alpert, volunteered to drive them to various schools, talked to the admission officers, and had them enrolled in the right classes. Marie attended Marina Junior High School, and Luther attended Galileo High School. Clyde had been attending the first year of college before he left Hong Kong. Since the college schoolyear in the US had started already, he could not attend classes that semester. Instead, he enrolled in John Adams Adult High School to study English for foreign students.
FOUND JOBS FOR EDWARD AND TONY
Edward had been enrolled in the third year of Hong Kong Baptist College majoring in chemistry. He decided to work temporarily in order to assist Tony to support the family. A friend of Renee helped Edward to find a job with the Chevron Research Center, which was located in Richmond, CA. Edward was able to keep in touch with his major and acquire valuable work experience.
Tony encountered more difficulty finding a job since he was at an advanced age and did not have any special skills. Renee contacted her friends in the banking business. After a few months, Tony finally found a job with the San Francisco National Bank. Janet found work sewing for a small job-shop that was located on Pacific Avenue, which was one street over from the apartment. The family was finally settled down to new lives in San Francisco. The smooth transition into a society so drastically different in circumstance from the last one could mainly be attributed to the tireless assistance of Renee and her many wonderful friends.
LIFE NEAR RENEE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Living in San Francisco meant that the family had many opportunities to visit Renee. The children renewed their acquaintance with her. Of course, now that the children were grown up and Renee also was a few years older, the relationship changed to some degree. However, Renee retained her generous and caring nature. She always had time for them and offered kind words of encouragement. She took the children to the amusement park near the Great Highway. She took them to visit the museums located inside the famous Golden Gate Park, which was situated near her house. The family participated in many activities that Renee organized.
RENEE’S DEAR FRIENDS
Renee’s many friends virtually adopted the family. Their kindness and generosity made the family fell welcome and at ease quickly. For example, Jack and Anita Loomis owned an eighty-acre farm in Santa Rosa. On weekends, they drove the family to the field and planted corn, tomatoes, squashes, and other vegetables. The land was so fertile that rainfall alone was enough to keep the vegetables growing. There were also many apple trees surrounding the ranch house of the Loomis family. The sunshine, the outdoor life and the exercise were welcome changes to a family who had lived in a tiny rental house in Hong Kong.
Mrs. Helen Alpert was another favorite of the children. She had an extremely keen and open mind. The children enjoyed practicing conversation in English with her. Their discussion went beyond topics of daily activities and entered into philosophy and politics. While there might not always be agreement among the participants, the tone was always civil and respectful. It was the first time the children realized that they could converse with an intelligent adult on an equal footing. It was the first recognition of the importance of democracy. The value of these occasions cannot be overemphasized, since they enhanced the confidence and maturity of the children. The children started to appreciate this country, not just for the abundance of material and opportunities, but also for the free and open environment.
Renee was famous for the many parties that she gave at her house. Typically, she invited more people than was comfortable for the room size; however, the congestion did not prevent the guests from enjoying those occasions. The atmosphere was free and intimate. The topics of conversation covered anything of interest to the guests. There was some reminiscence, especially when the guests included relatives that had not met each other for an extended period. Since Renee kept in touch with so many people, the family got to see many relatives that they had not met for years. One special person among them was a younger sister of Renee’s father, named Qichun, a favorite aunt of Renee and Tony. This gentle lady lived in Los Angeles at that time. Renee also invited Lydia, who used to be her sister-in-law, to visit her many times.
There were also some political discussions. During the time when the USA was engaged in the Vietnam War, some conversations got a little heated, but that was to be expected when people of different generations and background discussed such emotionally charged topics.
There were a lot of guests with very interesting and cultured backgrounds, such as, John and Rachel Carter, who were Luther’s host family at UC Berkeley. John was a professor of economics at the UC campus. Doctor Suzuki, who was a chemist, was Edward’s supervisor at the Chevron Research Center. The children often sought the company of Mrs. Helen Alpert. Her sharp wit and open mind were always appreciated. Margaret and Pappy Young were also favorites of the children. Pappy usually volunteered for the bartending service. This couple were so vivacious and amiable that the children felt comfortable talking with them. Carlos was Renee’s supervisor at the bank. He had learned to type Braille for the blinds and devoted many hours to transcribe books for the benefit of those unfortunate people. Mr. Takada was a California Highway Patrol officer. He recited many tales about law enforcement, to the amusement of the children. Mrs. Takada worked at the Department of Motor Vehicles. She was a model of demure and gentle Japanese housewife. Mr. and Mrs. Loomis were both wise in worldly experience and full of kindness.
Renee’s friends really enjoyed the food that she prepared. Renee was always ready to try new recipes. She cooked mainly Chinese food, but also some American dishes. Later on, some of the nieces and female in-laws helped Renee with the cooking. For the Christmas parties, Renee baked special sweet breads, called stollen, for the guests. After Luther found a job with the Ampex Company and relocated from Illinois back to the Bay Area, he roasted turkey for the Thanksgiving and Christmas parties. He acquired a real flair in this endeavor. Luther also baked some delicious bread for the parties.
Adolf, the renter who lived on the first floor, was a trained and accomplished continental dessert chef. He prepared some of the most delectable desserts for Renee’s parties. Those desserts were so delicate that they melted in the mouth. Each batch that came out of the oven was soon consumed.
Adolf was also a meticulous photographer. He used a special camera to take stereo picture slides. As a rare treat, Adolf showed those slides in a stereo viewer to the party guests, along with verbal explanation of the scenario. The guests enjoyed those picturesque scenes that Adolf took, mostly of his home country, Switzerland.
Renee was famous for the tremendous amount of photographs that she took and kept. She took photographs at numerous parties. She took photographs on vacations. She took photographs of pets. She took photographs of scenery. She must have accumulated over forty albums of pictures over time, from her youth in Shanghai until her last day. Those albums are still stored in her house situated in 544 23rd Avenue. The younger children sometimes got a little impatient standing in front of the camera. In hindsight, the pictures contained priceless memories of happier times.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE CHILDREN
Renee was famous for her sensitivity and generosity to her nephews and nieces. She recognized their achievements and encouraged them to strive toward higher goal. It would be impossible to list all her kind deeds, however, one example illustrates how she encouraged Clyde to continue toward higher education. When Clyde graduated from the University of California, he was a struggling student. He had to hold on to his limited financial resources in order to continue his post-graduate education. Graduating from the university was a major achievement in Clyde’s life up to that point. He would have loved to own a school ring to commemorate the event, but he resisted the temptation. Renee on her own initiative told Clyde several times that she would pay for a school ring, and asked Clyde to order it from the university. She brushed aside his reluctance and told him that it was proper for him to enjoy the fruit of success. Clyde had to resize the ring a couple of time as he gained weight over time but treasured the ring as a priceless token of her love.
As a clerk of a bank, Renee did not earn a big salary. At the same time, she helped various relatives meet their needs. Renee nevertheless took money from her tight budget to recognize a milestone in Clyde’s life. Renee’s generosity was a strong encouragement to Clyde to grasp the opportunities and to advance his education. To Clyde the significance of the gift was that Renee noticed his achievements and cared about him. It is infrequent that a person takes note of someone else’s achievement and altruistically encourages him to strive for further advancement.
CARED FOR JANET AFTER TONY PASSED AWAY
Tony always appeared to the children to be so healthy and strong that he seemed indestructible. His strength was the result of physical training received in his twenties when he served in the Chinese Customs Service and again later on, in the Civilian Auxiliary Service Corp in Hong Kong. He only experienced some minor problems with sinus allergy occasionally. However, Fate made other arrangements. In the later part of 1972, Tony complained of stomach pain and lack of appetite. The doctor diagnosed the condition as stomach ulcer. The medicines that the doctor prescribed and evens an operation to repair the ulcer did not relieve his suffering. After extensive additional testing and months of delay, the doctor finally diagnosed the symptoms as caused by liver cancer, in March of 1973. The tests weakened Tony’s body and the delays condemned him beyond healing. By then, the cancer had already spread to other parts of the body. Tony underwent radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Those treatments did not help him, but ruined his appetite completely and weakened his immune system. He was like a shadow of his former self. He passed away on June 10, 1973, at the age of 58 years.
Janet understood very little English and was only literate in Chinese. The tax system in the USA was another burden that baffled Janet. In addition, Janet had few resources for subsistence. She tithed regularly to the church from her meager income. After Tony passed away, all his children had already graduated from universities. However, they were preoccupied with earning a living and caring for their own families. They did not fully appreciate the hardship and stress of their mother, in her widowhood. For various reasons, they were not able to assist their mother fully. Janet was so independent that she did not want to burden her children, and asked for help only infrequently.
Edward obtained a doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Texas. He lives with his wife and children, and works in Austin, TX.
Sidney worked and studied simultaneously. He earned a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in Palo Alto. When Tony fell seriously ill, Sidney was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Southern California. He returned to Palo Alto and found a job with Addington Labs, a company that made microwave devices. Sidney provided valuable assistance to Tony during his sickness, and upon his death, to Janet later on. After their wedding in Cyprus, Sidney and his wife, Carol, lived in Israel for a few years until the birth of their first daughter, Camellia. Their whole family moved back to Palo Alto. Sidney worked for the Intel Company for many years until his retirement in the nineties. He now lives in Portland, Oregon.
Luther was instrumental in helping Tony to purchase the house located at 2211 20th Avenue, in the Sunset District of San Francisco. He co-signed the mortgage loan with Tony. He often provided direct assistance to his parents in the years when he was still studying for his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. After he earned his degree, Luther found a job with GE at the Appliance Park West, which was located in Louisville, KY. Janet lived with Luther for several short periods of time but preferred to return to San Francisco, to her own friends and church. Luther is currently living in the bay area in California.
Clyde and Marie were both married and had children of their own. They were busy raising their respective families. Clyde worked for General Electric Company in San Jose, CA. Marie was a teacher in the Los Angeles area. Janet stayed with Marie for a few months at a time on several occasions, but preferred to live her own life in San Francisco. Currently, Marie lives with her mother in San Francisco. Clyde lives in San Jose, CA.
Once again, Renee honored the promise that she made to her mother many years ago and extended her hands to care for her sister-in-law. Using the proceeds from Tony’s life insurance, Renee arranged to pay off the mortgage on the house. Janet was assured of at least having a house in which she could live permanently. While Janet lived in San Francisco, Renee attended to Janet’s needs constantly. Renee’s attention to Janet’s welfare was greatly appreciated by Tony’s children. The family could never repay their debt of gratitude to Renee for caring for their mother.
RENEE’S LIFE AFTER RETIREMENT
Renee enjoyed active life. Retirement was not compatible with her personality. However, she did not enjoy the work that she was performing at the bank, and did not feel that the bank was using her talents effectively. So she applied for early retirement. She still enjoyed excellent health and was too active to retire quietly. Instead, she engaged in many activities that she enjoyed. She was much happier when she was doing what she enjoyed, instead of doing busywork at the bank.
RENEE’S CHRISTMAS INVESTMENT CLUB
Renee used to give cash to the grand nephews and grand nieces as Christmas gifts. One year, she felt that she should cultivate in those youngsters a habit of investing. She established an investment club for the kids. She initially donated a block of stock shares in Pacific Gas and Electric Company to the investment club. Each year, the kids were required to invest $20.00 each into the club. Renee matched their investment with money that she would give them as Christmas gifts. She procured more stock shares for the club members with the money. Eventually, all stock shares were disbursed to the kids.
At first, the kids were not too pleased with the arrangement. To them, ready cash in hand appeared to be more valuable. Having to invest their own money in an abstract concept was even harder for them to accept. After they grew up, they realized the objective of the club. The yearly investments cultivated a habit of investing regularly in their later lives. In today’s society, it is well advised for anyone to invest on a regular basis. Financial experts advise that a steady investment in equity is the best method to build personal wealth. Renee used her business acuteness to cultivate a habit of investing in the children from an early age.
GOOD INVESTMENT STRATEGY
Renee invested in stocks for herself also. However, unlike average investor who was preoccupied with the daily ups and downs of share prices, or on quarterly dividends, she was among the few investors who took an active role. She actually read the annual reports and kept up to date with the business operations of the companies in which she invested. She did not just invest for the returns, but made sure that the companies that she invested in would benefit society in general. She was not shy to voice her opinion in the shareowner’s meeting against things that did not meet her approval. She invested in Chevron Oil, Chiron (a pharmaceutical company) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
When opposition to nuclear energy production ran high in California, Renee supported PG&E in building nuclear power plants located at Diablo Canyon. She recognized the need to use alternative energy sources other then fossil fuels, but she did not close her eyes when PG&E failed to execute its business properly.
Renee took up watercolor painting before her retirement, but involved more seriously afterwards. She painted mostly flowers and fruits. She took lessons at the senior center and practiced on her own. Painting provided her with many hours of enjoyment. Later, she began making china mugs, plates and figurines at the senior center. She would paint those withglaze. She soon became an artist in painting and china making.
RENEE’S DANCING CLASSES
Renee enjoyed music and dancing in general. She found that she really enjoyed square dancing after attending a few sessions at the senior center. The coordinated physical activity and the companionship of square dancing appealed to her gregarious nature. Each Saturday morning, she attended classes taught by a couple at the senior center that was located in Golden Gate Park. She sewed several gowns for herself, to match the uniform of the square dance team. Later on, she was really saddened when the husband of the teaching couple passed away. She continued to attend those dance classes and competitions almost to the end of her life.
In spite of her age, Renee was not ready to slow down after her retirement. If anything, she picked up her pace of living. She had enjoyed traveling since her youth. After President Nixon visited China in 1972, China gradually opened its borders to overseas travelers. At first, the arrangement was still somewhat crude and amateurish. Overseas Chinese did not have full confidence in visiting China. Only people who were venturesome or who wanted in visiting long separated relatives would try to visit China in the early days. Renee clearly fell into that group. She traveled to China several times to visit her numerous cousins and friends. Most of her elders had passed away before then.
Renee also fell in love with Switzerland. Adolf, who rented the first floor of her house for many years, was a Swiss. His brother visited Adolf at Renee’s house once. Hank’s mother and sister were Germans. They visited Renee a number of times also. Renee had additional friends living in Germany and Switzerland. She visited Switzerland and Germany several times. Of course, Renee took many pictures during her trips and shared those with friends and relatives at her famous parties.
Renee was environmentally conscience before the subject was socially popular. She hated to waste foodstuff. She organized younger guests at her parties to dig holes in her garden and to bury the food scraps as compost. The soil in her garden was sandy, and not fertile at all. However, it was easy to dig. Over the years, one lost track of how many holes had been dug in the garden. The food scraps enriched the soil over time. The fruit trees in the backyard eventually bore some delicious apples, plums, peaches and prunes. Renee was so happy with some of the fruits that she took pictures of them. Cherries were her favorite fruit, but to her chagrin the cherry trees in her yard did not yield many cherries.
Renee also collected aluminum cans for recycling. The empty cans were bulky. Since Renee did not own or operate a car, she returned them to the recycling center only on special occasions when someone would drive her. The empty cans were stored in the garage below the house. This became a problem later on. Mice started to suck at the residual sweet liquid in the empty cans and infested the house. Her nephews had to set up traps to eradicate the pests. They also helped Renee to deliver the cans to the recycling center more frequently from then on.
After her retirement, Renee was not affluent financially, but she certainly had enough income to live comfortably. Her friends and relative would testify to her generosity. The proceeds from recycling cans were totally insignificant to her, and not an incentive for her action. All her life, Renee did what she believed to be right. Recycling aluminum cans was her way of conserving energy and material.
Renee enjoyed writing letters. She wrote a tremendous number of letters to friends and relatives. In her hurry, her handwriting might be a bit hard to decipher. After her retirement, Renee decided to type the letters for the benefit of the recipients. She procured a top-of-the-line IBM electrical typewriter. Unfortunately, this typewriter did not perform up to its reputation. Renee encountered numerous problems with the machine. While the machine was under warrantee and even afterwards, Renee needed service from IBM frequently. Those technicians let her down many times. Their services did not meet her expectations. Renee was forced to write her letters by hand in spite of owning an electrical typewriter.
TRIED TO ADOPT HER SISTER’S DAUGHTER, CAROL
Diana, Renee’s sister, moved with her family from Shanghai to Jinan, Shandong Province, in 1964. When she was traveling to visit her father in Shanghai in 1966, a gang of lawless youths murdered her on board a train. Mary, Diana’s daughter, and Yang Yang, Mary’s cousin, recovered Diana’s ashes and a picture of Diana showing bruises on her face. Diana was buried with her parents.
Diana left behind two sons and two daughters. Renee wanted to help Diana’s children. During her first visit of the Kuai’s in 1979, she offered to help Vincent and Mary to immigrate to the USA. They declined the offer for themselves for various reasons. Instead, they suggested to Renee that she might help Diana’s younger daughter, Carol.
Carol was trained to be a volleyball player by the Railroad Division of the People’s Liberation Army beginning at the age of fifteen. She was 5’ 11” tall. After the team discharged her, she did not have the educational background to attend university or to find a regular job. She was assigned to work at a remote railway station near Mongolia for about ten years. After she returned to Jinan in 1978, she worked for the same company where Vincent worked. Carol took TV broadcasted classes and received a college diploma. This was a great accomplishment since she had not even completed high school education in her youth. It also revealed her potential and tenacity if she only had a chance to pursue her education in a normal environment.
Renee decided to adopt Carol. In 1979, Renee planned to apply for permission for Carol to immigrate to the USA. Carol would have a better future with regard to advanced education and improved job prospects. The paperwork required by the governments in both China and the USA was rather cumbersome. The application process went on for years. In 1984, Carol went for a physical checkup and got bad news. She was diagnosed with late term breast cancer. She went in for treatment immediately. Carol struggled with the disease for seven more years, but she never recovered her health.
Renee provided much encouragement to Carol during those years. Carol described in an article the kindness and encouragement of her aunt during that period, which was published in the Shanghai Nightly News in 1990. Eventually, the cancer became fatal. Carol passed away in 1991, a few months after Renee’s demise. Renee was unable to provide a better future to her niece, Carol. This was a sad disappointment for Renee.
ASSISTED OTHER RELATIVES
Renee continued to assist her other relatives during her years of retirement. Among them were her brother, Leon, her nephew C. T. Nie and various other members of the family of her sister, Diana.
Leon was a professor of English in Shanghai. He was over sixty years old when Renee applied for permission for him to come to this country. Leon arrived in San Francisco in 1984. He first worked at various commercial positions. He even started a store of his own. Later on, he taught English in the San Mateo School District. After a few more years, Leon applied for permission for his wife, named Jian, to join him. Jian came to this country in 1994. Leon and his wife now live in Oakland, CA. Leon retired from formal teaching in 2000.
C. T. Nie is the son of Richard, who was Renee’s brother. Richard studied in universities for advanced degrees in America and in Germany for extensive periods. Unfortunately, Richard was caught in political upheavals in China. He died prematurely. C. T.’s mother, named Lydia, lived in the USA at that time. She applied for permission for C. T. to come to this country. Since C. T. was not yet married then, it was easier and faster to obtain immigration permission for him than were for the other two brothers who were both married. C. T. stayed with Renee for a short period when he first arrived in this country. Eventually, Lydia obtained permission for her other two sons, C. Z and C. Y. also to immigrate to this country. Currently, all three brothers and their families are settled down independently in the Bay Area.
When Renee visited the Kuai family for the second time in 1985, she again encouraged Mary, her sister’s older daughter, to go to America. Mary felt that she had to stay in China to care for her father, her younger sister, Carol, her younger brother, and her own family. The younger brother was only fourteen years old when his mother died tragically. Vincent was advanced in years. Carol was afflicted with breast cancer. Mary had divorced her first husband and remarried in 1978. Mary has a daughter from the first marriage and a son from the second marriage. Obviously, Mary carried a heavy responsibility.
Renee visited Shanghai a number of times trying to assist her nephew, John Wen-Bin Kuai (Reference 4). John was the eldest son of Diana, Renee’s sister. Renee promised to help John to go abroad, even if she had to sell some of her jewelry (Reference 5). John went to Perth, Australia in 1988. Renee assisted John financially so that he could attend a language school and maintain his student status. John became a permanent resident of Australia in 1990.
Renee visited the Kuai family a third time in Oct. 1987. Mary was concerned about the future of her daughter, who was also named Diana. Diana just reached the age of sixteen that year. With Mary’s salary alone, she was hard-pressed to support Diana attending a regular college. Mary thought of sending Diana to a teacher training college. Renee encouraged Mary to prepare Diana for a regular college and to take the TOFEL examination, which was mandatory for applying to universities in the USA. Renee promised to help Diana. She would find some way to come up with the college tuition. Besides material assistance, Renee encouraged Diana with direct conversations and with letters.
Diana came to San Francisco when she was eighteen years old on Dec. 18, 1988. She stayed with Renee for ten days, and then went to live with Sidney in Portland Oregon, and later on in New Mexico. Renee provided financial assistance to Diana so she could complete her college education. Edward and Sidney also assisted Diana. Diana obtained a BS and an MS degrees in electronic engineering in December 1992 and June 1994, respectively, from the University of New Mexico. When Diana got her first job offer in 1994, her grandfather, Vincent, burst out crying. He was very proud of Diana for her achievement and for her independence. Vincent passed away in November 1994. Diana is now married to Diwakar Vishakhadatta. She lives and works in Austin, TX.
Mary married Yao Hwang in 1978. Yao worked for a government steel manufacturing company. Mary gave birth to a son, Kevin, in September 1979. Renee offered to help Yao to go abroad, but Mary declined since Renee was already financially helping John and Mary’s daughter, Diana, at that time. Yao went to Sidney, Australia in 1990 as a business representative. After the death of Mary’s father, Yao left that company and migrated with his family to Australia in October 1996.
RENEE PASSED AWAY
The death of a close relative is always hard to accept. When someone is as dear as Renee was, the impact is devastating. However, in the case of Renee, there was a silver lining.
Clyde and his family visited Marie in Los Angeles near the end of the summer in 1991. On their return, Clyde telephoned Renee to greet her. Renee had returned from a visit to Europe a few weeks earlier. This time her age was catching up with her. She felt tired and lethargic. She did not complain of any discomfort or pain. No one was alarmed. After all, she just completed a strenuous trip overseas and she was getting on in years.
Marie was in San Francisco with her children also. Renee invited Clyde, Marie and their respective families to dinner the next evening to celebrate her eightieth birthday, according to the Chinese method of counting. Clyde was happy to find Renee to have recovered in spirit and feeling well enough to celebrate.
All of them visited Renee the next afternoon. It was a sunny day. After some chitchat, Renee proposed that they took some outdoor pictures together. They went to the San Francisco terminal of the Golden Gate Bridge to take pictures. Marie had just purchased a camcorder, and she practiced filming with it. Everyone enjoyed the warm sunshine and fresh air, except some of the young children, who were a little tired and bored. Soon after, the whole group went to a restaurant near Janet’s house for dinner. Renee was particularly happy that day. She appeared to have taken off a heavy burden from her shoulders and discovered a new source of energy. She had finally recovered her vitality after the extended trip to Europe.
Around noontime the next day, Clyde received a telephone call from Luther’s wife, Elaine. Elaine told Clyde that Renee had succumbed to a massive heart attack that morning. Renee’s mother suffered a similar fate almost sixty years earlier. This time, there was no immediate family member around Renee to ask about her last wish. This traumatic news overwhelmed everyone and left them all speechless.
How could it be? Renee had been so alive and happy only a few hours ago! However, there was no arguing with reality. The only saving grace was that Renee had not suffered at the end. For someone who was so active and outgoing, who had dedicated her whole life to helping her friends and relatives, her passing away in this manner was bittersweet. Everyone who knew Renee wanted her to live forever, but that was against the law of nature. Yet, it would be unthinkable if Renee were to suffer some debility such as a paralyzing stroke or mental regression. Renee would be devastated if she suffered cruel limitations to her active life. Not having full control of her faculties would have frustrated Renee. Hence, the peaceful death might be considered as a blessing in disguise. Was it possible that the day before Renee had a prescience of what would happen soon?
Renee’s nephews and nieces convened in Renee’s house the next day to prepare for her funeral. The first task was to compile a list of her relatives and friends for notification. This involved a little effort because they were so numerous. Renee’s several address books were disjointed. Clyde and Hank contracted with a funeral home in the Richmond district of San Francisco, for a civil service. Renee did not subscribe to any religion during her life, so it would have little meaning to hold a religious funeral service for her. Renee’s brother, Leon, eulogized her with a tribute befitting a marvelous and generous lady. Her friends from her youth, Mr. and Mrs. Y. D. Chow, were there to see her off. There were many other friends from all walks of life at the service. She had been friendly to them and they were there to pay their respects to her for the last time. Many of her classmates from the square dance classes attended the funeral. Their presence would have pleased her more than all the beautiful flower arrangements, since she was so gregarious in her life.
Renee had not left instructions to her family concerning funeral arrangements. Hank claimed that she would have liked to be cremated and have her ashes stored near her high school friend, Harriet Ho, in the Columbarium, which was located in the city (Note). The Columbarium is a beautiful and serene place with many precious stained glass windows. Those stained glass windows were considered an art treasure of San Francisco. It is the only cemetery that still accepts new application in the city of San Francisco. The family decided to comply with that wish.
Renee was survived by one brother, Leon, three sisters-in-law, P. C., Janet and Jian, thirteen nephews and nieces from her brothers and sisters, and numerous other relatives and friends.
Looking back, Renee did not have an easy or smooth life. In fact she suffered more than a fair share of losses of loved ones, business reverses, career setbacks, and personal tragedies. She did not let those incidents affect her positive outlook of life. She concentrated on the happier events of her life: people who were kind to her, her friends and her relatives. She wasKwang-Ming. She brought enlightenment and happiness to people around her. She was Foo. It was good fortune for anyone to be her friend or relative.
The Columbarium was a resting place worthy of princes and princesses, but that was not the real resting place of Renee. The real resting place of Renee was in the hearts of her numerous loving friends and relatives. Her legacy was the love that survived beyond time and corruption. This love would not diminish with the passing years. How many people in this world are so lucky as to have a true and dear friend like Renee?