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Remembering LEE WaiNang 李威能 (62)

In Memoriam

LEE WaiNang李威能

LEE WaiNang 

(R.I.P. - 18 June 2018 @ CA, USA)

Studied at Wah Yan College, Kowloon (1959-1963)Years at Wah Yan College, Kowloon

F.3A -- 1959-1960


Form 4A-- 1959-1960



Form 5 A -- 1961 -1962



Form 6S -- 1962-63


 Wah Yan at Mi Piace

Remembering LEE WaiNang – from WYK62s

On 22 June 2018, Patrick Hsu wrote –

I last met Lee WaiNan was in the round the NT bike ride after our F5 graduation. That was a big endeavor for those who attended and hopefully still in there memory.

May Lee WaiNang Rest In Peace.
On 23 June 2018, Raymond Lau wrote –

I just came back from a trip to Tibet, and there learned a bit about life and death in terms of the Tibetan Buddhist way of life. What I have learned is compassion in this life will result in better relations with those you come into contact with in the next.

Whether one believes in reincarnation or not, I think it works the same even if there is but one life. Be compassionate and empathetic and you'll find people who are like-minded -- and I believe Wai Nang was one of these people who quietly support you and think the best of you and try to do their best for you.

We did not have much contact towards the latter part of his life, but while we maintained contact, he was the perfect gentleman, always there for you, and always smiling. He was not nicknamed "the Monk" for nothing, I guess.

His life is to be celebrated, and his passing not to be mourned. May he rest well, and in peace. Shalom to all.
On 23 June 2018, Paul Lee wrote --

I was back from a trip and was shocked to hear the news. I have written a remembrance of Wai Nang with an added note by Dominic (attached separately). Please circulate among our classmates.
On 23 June 2018, Peter Sien wrote –

Wai Nang joined our 3A class with Dunson + one other person, and stayed with us through 5A. He went to US for college.
I have the fortune to meet him at the Greyhound, long distance, bus station in San Francisco after I arrived in USA in 1967. He is the first person whom I know and meet in San Francisco. He connected me with Philip Chai in San Jose.

He was a first year medical student at Stanford Med School. I went from HK to US to work at Stanford as a radiation technologist. I have visited him many times while he lived at Stanford to finish his medical training. He is the one who told me that Andrew Fong On Chuk died of a motor bicycle accident while they were both at UC Berkeley University.

He went back to HongKong for an externship during his 3rd yr of medical school, met and married Dorleen. I stayed in touch with both of them during their family growing up with their only daughter. Christine is a very successful pharmacist now in Hayward, Ca, Northern California.

He is very studious and kept to himself a lot. He did not participate much of the gathering in Southern California. I have visited them at their Pacific Palisade house and stayed at their house once.

Wai Nang is a very private person, not the same as outlined in his brother's story. He is always a gentleman.

I even went camping with his younger brother and some other friends in the early 1970's before I left California to Wisconsin for my medical school in 1971. I visited their house after I came back to California.

Recently I called him on telephone, and talked a long time. He told me that Dorleen died a year ago, but did not mention about his own illness.

We shall miss him a lot.

On 23 June 2018, Steve Lau wrote –

I did not have the fortune of knowing “李威能” very well; but I still remember often calling him fondly by his nickname “和尚”. Despite it was only one short year when we knew each other in Lower Six, he left quite a deep impression on me, lasting to this date!

He was a quiet and private person, often deep in thought, starring the football field out of the window close to his seat in our classroom. He liked to talk about “logic”, and “agriculture”, both subjects were not taught in class then. I admired secretly his “beautiful mind” and looked up to him. His intellect seemed to develop faster than most classmates and his mind matured earlier.

During the long forty years when I was in the States, it was unfortunate that our paths did not cross each other; he was on the northwest coast, and I was on the northeast. I awared that he was a highly respected pediatric endocrinologist in academia; I was a “bare foot” cardiothoracic vascular surgeon. It was all “緣份” All left for me was 我對一位學兄的尊敬和神交.

It was still in my hope that I can see him again in one of the reunions. But this sad news of his passing shocked me.

He has not gone; he is a thousand winds among us.
Please allow me sharing with you the attached video (attached separately).
Stephen C. Lau 劉楚鍵
On 24 June 2018, Paul Lee wrote --

Wai Nang continued his work until the end. His last publication, as far as I can tell, appeared in Metabolomics, April 2017, 13:39. The title of the paper is: Triterpenoid-rich loquat leaf extract induces growth inhibition and apoptosis of pancreatic cancer cells through altering key flux ratios of glucose metabolism.

The interesting part of this paper is that it uses loquat leaf extract (LLE), something that might possibly have come from WaiNang’s backyard. They investigated the cellular metabolic effect of LLE, and ursolic acid (UA) on pancreatic cancer cells using a C carbon tracing technology. They found that tumor viability was suppressed by LLE. Pancreatic cancer, of course, was what Wai Nang suffered from. Maybe someday this finding at the cell level will lead to a clinical application.
On 26 June 2018, Clement Luk wrote –

Dear Paul - Thank you for a superb remembrance of WaiNang. I can't confess that I understand all the words; but your writing made it possible for my amateur brain to grasp the importance of WaiNang's work and contributions. It made me feel so proud to have had the privilege to have been a classmate of a giant among us.

We'll miss him.

Four Brothers

Stories of four brothers by Lee Wai Hon

An old photo showed a mother holding a one year old boy with three other boys standing in front of her. The one year old was Waimun. 5 years old Waihon was on her left, 3 years old Wainang on the middle and 4 years old Waitak was on the left. The daughters behind mother were Fookbo and Fookwah. The time was just after world War II and the place was the house in Haiphong, North Vietnam. Because these four brothers were born just few years apart, they were destined to spend their youth together. Waimun was the cute one and Wainang was the naughty one. One of Wainang’s stories retold by mother was that an old employee at Father’s business asked him, “Why didn’t you say good morning to grand uncle #2?”. Wainang replied, “ You devil grand uncle #2 good morning.” Wainang would taste any vegetation in the garden. In Chinese history, the legendary medicine man did the same thing to find herbs for curing illnesses. Wainang showed in his early days that he would be a medical doctor someday.

Soon after the war (maybe 1948), Father had a thought of returning to China. Hence he sent mother and the four boys back to visit the Lee’s ancestral village, Samsui. To reach the village, we took a tiny row boat from Canton and travelled through the river water ways to Fu Shan and then continued on to Sam Sui. Our maternal grandfather was a rich man in Fu Shan. Just on the night of our arrival, a group of bandit thought our grandfather had arrived from Canton and wanted to capture him for ransom. Of course, our grandfather was not in town. As the bandits tried to break down the front door, Mother hid us under the wooden bed and hoped that the bandits would not find us. Luckily the sound of gun firing from our neighbor next door scared the bandits away. As morning came, we found the front door was nearly broken through by the bandits. With this scare we did not continue our journey to Samsui and returned to Canton and later went back to Vietnam. During the years in Haiphong, we did not attend formal school and were tutored by a teacher at a friend’s house.

In 1951 with the war between VietMing and the French coming to an end and the French army lost, Father decided to move south to Saigon. The first few years, we lived in a warehouse building in a district called PhuMei. Residences were on the second floor looking down to an open loading area below. From the patio of our residence we could see a lumber yard across street. The street in front of the warehouse ended at a river. Lumbers were transported to the lumber yard by floating them down the river. Not far from the warehouse and on the river side was a club house owned by Father’s firm where the French employees went to row boat or play bocci. Beyond the lumber yard was a market. On the opposite side of the river from our house was the Saigon Botanical garden.

We started our formal schooling after we arrived Saigon. Waitak and Waihon attended 4th grade, Wainung 3rd grade and Waimun 1st grade. Lingnam Middle school was in Cholon, a city near Saigon. Although it was not far from home, we lived in the dormitories of the school. Boys 4th grade and up lived in boys dormitories, and boys 3rd grade and below stayed in the girls dormitories. Every two weeks we went home for the weekend. Looking back, we started to live away from our parents at a very early age. Of course, it was the hardest for Waimun since he was only about 6 years old then. Waihon was one year older than Waitak and they were in the same grade. Father consoled Waihon that it was better to be the peak of a chicken than the ass of a cow. By this, he meant that it was better for Waihon to do well in 4th grade than to struggle in 5th grade. This was one of many lessons that we learned from Father. There were a lot of fond memories living above the warehouse. Father introduced us to Swiss cheese, yogurt, margarine, Durian and fish intestines. Once Father told us that the end of the chicken was very delicious. The consequence was that Waihon and Wainang both wanted to try it. This was the only time that we fought for something. At home during summer time Mother used to read books for us before bedtime. Reading was the main leisure activity for us. The warehouse had a flat stoned roof where we learned to ride bicycles and roller skates.

After Vietnam became independent in 1954 we moved to a two-storyed villa built by Father’s firm. There were two other one-story villas next to it. Not far from the villas was a big warehouse. We first learned how to play Bridge from Father in that villa. Father taught us the techniques of the Bridge game. The foursome was Father and three of us. We play bridge almost every night during summer time until we left for Hong Kong in 1958. Later we moved to the one-story villa next to the border of the property. The other two were rented to American officers. Wainang is the outgoing one among us. Soon he befriended Michael, son of our American neighbor. During that period, Waihon took cello lessons. Every Sunday Father drove Waihon to cello lesson. Afterwards they went to Father’s friend ice cream parlor to have ice cream. The property where the warehouse and villas situated was spacious. We had a covered ping pong table and a badminton court. There were bamboo trees lining along the borders to our neighbor property. Sometimes we crawled under the wire fence to dig bamboo shoots from our neighbor’s bamboo trees.

In 1957, Vietnamese government limited the classes in Chinese school to only one year for senior high schooling. We left Lingnam Middle School and spent one year in a school that specialized in English. This paved the way for us to receive our education in Hong Kong. In spring of 1958, Mother took the seven kids in a sea journey to travel from Saigon to Macau. Upon arrival Mother paid to get fake ID for the four older boys. She then took the young three boys with her to enter Hong Kong ahead of the four older boys. On that eventful day to go to Hong Kong, we were brought on board of a Macau Hong Kong ferry in the middle of the night. It was morning when we arrived Hong Kong. Holding the fake documents we sheepishly walked towards the gate. The person taking care of us tried to separate us to make it look less obvious that we were illegals. After we went past the inspecting officers, our care-taker took our papers and quickly pushed us out of the gate. Mother was there waiting across the street. During that time in Hong Kong many things could be done through connections. We got our Hong Kong ID card and became Hong Kongese. We entered Hong Kong in June. Mother’s first order of business was to get us into schools in Hong Kong. We went to a tutor to prepare us for the entrance examination. The first school we applied was Pui Ying Middle School. We were all admitted. As we were admitted to more schools, Mother would pay tuitions to every schools to guarantee our space in that school. This allowed her to select the best school for us at the end. A new school, Ramondi colloge was open to enrollment that year. Waihon get admitted to Form 4. Waitak and Wainang were admitted to Form 3. Later on Waihon was also admitted to Puiching Middle School. By September mother decided that three older brothers went to Ramondi and Waimun went to Pui Ying. The plan was that while in Hong Kong we stay with brother William who just got married earlier in the year. He put two bunk beds in his work area to accommodate us. One week before school started, brother William suggested to Waihon to go to Pui Ching instead of Ramondi college. A year later Wainang was transferred to Wah-Yan college. In December that year brother William’s son Frank was born and Brother William decided to go back to Saigon. He arranged with his friend to rent a room to us and provide dinners for us. Just like in the boarding school in Saigon, we were alone by ourselves again. During those years we had bread and Ovaltine drink for breakfast, bought lunches at school and had dinners with the landlord’s family. All the expenses including tuition, bus tickets, pocket money and room and board amounted to HK$500.00. For comparison a catered banquet was about HK$100.00 at that time. We had a radio to listen to. One of the programs we listened faithfully was the hit song parades every week. Waitak learned to build crystal radio which became his hobby and led to his future interest in electronics. Wainang and Waihon liked to read Agatha Christie’s mystery novel. Occasionally we went to visit Uncles and grandmothers in Hong Kong. Every Chinese New year Auntie No. 3 would take us to buy new clothes. Daily clothes were just our school uniforms (white shirt and white pants). We washed our own clothes.

1961 Waihon graduated from Puiching. With the advice from Brother William he went to MIT. A year later Waitak also went to MIT. Another year later Wainang went to UC Berkeley. Finally Waimun also came to UC Berkely.

The first time that the four brothers came together again was 1968 at Waihon’s wedding. By 1973 the four brothers all lived in Califronia. Waimun and Waihon lived in Bay area. Waitak and Wainang lived in Los Angeles.

One of the most important meeting among the brothers was to discuss how to evacuate the family out of Vietnam in early 1975. Waihon was already an American citizen and could apply for parents and sibling to United States. To make sure we could fast track the process, we went to see an immigration lawyer in San Francisco. Instead of giving us advice he commented that Wainang did not look like a medical doctor and looked more like a lumber jack. With that remark we left his office. At immigration office, we learned that Waihon’s birth certificate was sufficient to apply for mother’s entry. Waiseng and Fookyun’s birth certificate were sufficient for their entry also. However, we needed a marriage certificate between mother and father to prove his relationship to Waihon. In the 1940’s there was not marriage certificate as such. Immigration officer insisted that an application for Father would not be possible without a marriage certificate. WaiMun came up with an idea and he called Senator Scanston’s office. Through his office, we get an appointment to meet with the director of immigration on the top floor of the immigration building. In 5 minutes she took us down and went directly to the back room to give our papers to a person to take care of it right away. By paying a small fee it was promised that the approval will be sent to US Embassy in Saigon by a telegram. In fact we got a call the next day that the telegram had been sent. Wainag also wrote a letter in February to Bob, husband of Dorlene’s sister Anita. Bob worked for the US government.

To make the story short, Waiseng arrived Penddleton airbase around May 1st. 1975. Because Waiseng fiancée Lanying and mother’s servant did not have paper, they had to stay in refugee camp in Kansas city waiting for sponsors. Father and Mother would not leave the camp without them. Finally Waimun flew to Kansas city to sponsor them and get all of them out in July. The Lee family finally reunited in United States.

The evacuation from Saigon could not have happened without the help of Bob. After the fall of Saigon Bob and Anita stayed with Wainang for quite a while until they moved to Las Vegas. To this date Wainang still took care of Anita.

The amazing things about these four brothers was that most of their lives they were away from home. They were connected to their parents through only letters. Of course, without Father’s financial arrangements all of our schooling away from home would not be possible.

Stories of their individual lives after 1975 are more eventful and too numerous to recount. But those developing years are most unforgettable ones.


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