Wing Hai Leung, lifetime learner, chemistry teacher (1931 – Feb, 10, 2021)
My Father had lived an unostentatious life. He would have discouraged writing this. I thought however least I could to is celebrate a few of his accomplished and tidbits about his living.
Wing was born to a mercantile father, my paternal grandfather who had spent time in Illinois. My grandfather ran a laundry business with his wife in a suburban town near Chicago. He moved back to Guangdong, China after his wife died. He remarried and within a year, moved to Hong Kong where my father was born. My father was close to his mother. Father would however only address her as “Little Big Sister” because grandma was deemed by tradition the “second” wife. She was a tiger mom to my father, her eldest son. During WWII, grandfather’s ginger candy business had been reduced to a corner store. My teenager father would cashier and was good at figuring out customer’s changes with speed and accuracy. Father was chatty with the shoppers and neighbors, contrary to his taciturn personality.
Fast forward to senior in high school. With academic distinctions my father went to medical school in Shanghai, graduated with a baccalaureate in pharmacy. My grandfather was terminally ill. Father made plan to return to Hong Kong. He missed seeing his father’s last days as his trip was delayed by work. He stayed in Hong Kong and went to HKU for a second degree in chemistry. Upon graduation, he became a science teacher at a prep school. He had even penned a few study guides. He got married. When I was a toddler, he decided to come to America to further his education. He got his Ph. d. from University of Miami. During that time, father also re-united with his elder half-brother and half-sister, and one younger brother who was already in the U.S. There was another younger brother who was also a teacher in Hong Kong. After Miami, father moved to Buffalo, NY, followed by Binghamton and Iowa before settling in Hampton, Virginia.
I had not always lived with my father. However, he was my friend. At times. we found ourselves in different ends of arguments. He liked to lay his work or reading materials flat taking up space over the desk, the dining table, and the couch. He would wear his sons’ high school days clothes which had been meant for donation or recycling. My occasional “critique” would to this day have fallen on deaf ears. Pun intended, he was hard of hearing. He was not a very talkative father but he had confided in me interesting anecdotes such as how our family’s forefather was from Zhejiang; and the forefather was a general; how my grandfather’s village was so hilly and poor that the invading Japanese army did not bother to raid (“also because there were more than a few sharp-shooters amongst the villagers”, father added.)
Some less known facts about father, besides Chinese and English, he had learned Japanese, Russian and German. He loved music popular from the pre-war Shanghai era. He was good at botany and knew many herbal plants’ medicinal use. He enjoyed reading and writing poetry. One life lesson I cherish the most from father is that he never ceased learning. He was always reading. Science journals, newspaper, self-help books and in the last 30 years, the Bible. He took comprehensive notes. He wanted to be ready to share during Bible study if and when he was called upon. In his last hours, what was laying around … an investment prospectus, a book called “The Great Controversy”, and a Newsweek article “Why do we need Heaven”.
Help tell the story of Wing by contributing to the Life Event Timeline. Upload the photo of an event...Post an Event