It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce the passing of James, at 1:20 am PST this morning. His wife was at his bedside holding his hand. He was peaceful and smile when he took his last breath. He is with God now in heaven.


(From Victor Tong '68)

It is with great sadness for me to let you know that James had passed away at 1:20 am this morning.  His wife was by his side and held his hand.  He smiled when he took his last breath.

(From James’s wife Marita)

“Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I’ll miss you, until we meet again.”

James Wai Tong, Professor of Political Science at UCLA, passed away peacefully in Los Angeles on Oct. 3, 2020 after a brave battle with cerebral hemorrhage. He left behind Marita, his companion of 44 years; Olivia and Brian, 2 spirited children he is extremely proud of; 2 most spoilt grandchildren Ava and Harrison Goldstein for whom Grandpa can magically turn into a villainous, jovial pirate; also his dear siblings Victor, Nancy and Paul, niece, nephews, in-laws, and friends.

James was born on April 8, 1947 in Kowloon, Hongkong, the eldest son of Sing Tong and Lung Mo Ching. He adored his Mom and even as a child was her pillar of emotional support. She is perhaps why he ever has a soft spot for smart, strong women. He attended Wah Yan (Kowloon), which was most instrumental in molding him into the prince of a guy, exemplary scholar that he is and for his passing season as a Jesuit priest. All things, all people Wah Yan hold a special place in his heart and wallet. He also attended Ateneo de Manila, University of the Philippines, University of Washington and obtained his PhD in Political Science from University of Michigan. His dissertation, “Disorder Under Heaven: Collective Violence in the Ming Dynasty” which won the 1986 American Political Science Association Gabriel Almond Award was published by Stanford. His “Revenge of the Forbidden City” published by Oxford led to numerous occasions of him serving as an expert witness before US Congressional Committees on religious developments in China. He was editor of the journal “Chinese Law and Government,” 1988 to 2020.

James taught at UCLA for 31 years after brief stints at Michigan State University and Caltech. A tireless and selfless educator, he was exceptionally generous with his time and resources to whomsoever needed them. Research problem? Matters of the heart? Career advice? Broke? Trouble with the law?Impossible parents? Talk to James; he will help. It’s midnight? Call anyway. The thousands of people he has helped along the way gladden his heart and comprise a veritable secret army of faithful friends scattered across the globe. Upon learning James is in the hospital, Dr. Lee had to be dissuaded from closing his office in HongKong to fly to Los Angeles to tend to James. Such is the loyalty, devotion and friendship James inspires.

James does not smoke, drink or gamble. But as the sum of all vices is constant, he makes up for it by writing awful poetry, belting out Gilbert and Sullivan show tunes and embarrassing his children when he detains restaurant waitstaff with chit chat that have nothing to do with food ordering. Blessed with nonexistent fashion sense he supported the baggy khaki pants industry for half a century and depended on his brothers for high end hand me ups to go with his $12 hair cut (used to be $8). Ahhh... the happy autumn fields... the days that are no more...

There will be no viewing. A Celebration of His Life will be held in 2021. In lieu of flowers, James will be very pleased if you do an unexpected act of generosity in his name for some poor Hongkong graduate student.

(From Fred Yip '71)

James is the older brother of Victor Tong, who was the President of our WYK alumni association here in Ontario in its early days. They also have a younger brother Paul, who is also living in Toronto. We all remember James well. He's been to Toronto quite a few times, the last of which was when he showed up for the 30th Anniversary of the founding of our alumni association. May he rest in peace!

(李勝生 '66)

湯維強教授,六十年代中學時期九龍華人書院校友。維強兄為人正直,樂於助人,熱愛生命,追求公義 。1963年我們認識,維強兄雖長我一屆,但在參加學生組織活動中,我們經常討論人生哲理,質疑宗教意義,理解社會發展,探索個人使命。中學時代的優良風氣,奠定我們日後處世做人的基礎,也建立我們一生的友誼。青年時代的校外生活亦多姿多彩 : 笙歌曼舞,綠袖紅香,給我們帶來浪漫人生的遐想,詩情畫意的品味,與改造社會的信心。中學畢業後各奔外國深造,硏究院畢業後又各為事業奮鬥,天南地北,雖很少機會見面,但早年建立的友誼和熱忱始終不渝。故友仙逝,腷臆紛紜。 少年點滴,仿如昨日。舞台人生,瞬息煙雲。𧫴以宋詞《永遇樂》追憶逝水芳華,緬懷良友故人。

李勝生 2020.10.4

《永遇樂 悼辭》

鄰岸煙封,遠山雲隔,春意何在? 綠水漂萍,紅塵倦客,倏忽沉滄海。月明常缺,寬顏易斷,往事惹人嗟慨。夜深深,音容縹緲,少年恍惚重再。


 (From Peter Li '66)

Tribute to James Tong by Peter S. Li

James was one year my senior in high school. I can never forget the genuine smile and subtle humour of James when he stood up to speak in those days. He retained that smile and humour even 40 years later. James spent many hours in high school discussing with me, or more correctly, listening to what I had to say and raising questions. A true friend and fellow schoolmate, James is forever in my mind. Here is my last tribute to James:

Your smile is gentle
And your influence deep.
You have laboured long
For harvests others to reap.
You have finished your journey
And earned your long sleep.

(From Pius Lee and Don Chen '71)

It’s expected but still very sad.
I visited him at the hospice 2 weeks ago.
He has 2 younger brothers in WYK. Victor (WYK 68)lives in Toronto. Paul (72) is in HK or China. Paul was in our Boy Scout troop before.
Adviced Adam to apply college,drove from UCLA to my town, talked in a coffee shop, and 赞 「華仁的回憶」一文。

(From Jason Chan '93)

With great sadness, I want to let you know that our beloved Professor James Tong passed away today. His actions reflected his love of our school. He was one of the founding members of the Wah Yan Alumni Association of Southern California. He is the big brother that Wah Yan boys can always count on.

On top of that, he was instrumental in setting up the Fr. Deignan scholarship, which helped many Wah Yan Boys who studied in the US in the last 20 years. Many of them matriculated at the best graduate program in the US, such as Caltech, MIT, University of Chicago and UCLA.

Faith in God’s timing: the scholarship selection committee is scheduled to interview two excellent candidates tonight. In here, we propose to dedicate this year's recipient as Prof. James Tong scholar in memory of his contribution to the scholarship and Wah Yan. As the chapter, we shall continue his legacy of the Fr. Deignan scholarship together.

May He Rest In Peace.

James with our LA group

 James Tong

 James Tong

At WYKAAO 30th Anniversary Gala

James Tong

(From Ron Tse '67)

From IC in Los Angeles. 才子 James Tong, 湯維強,花名湯雞。May he R.I.P.

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 (From 余晃英 '61)

Please click here to read the tribute to James Tong from Fong-ying Yu.

James Tong

"One Day When We Were Young"

A video of a tribute to the favorite song of James Tong, "One Day When We Were Young", with Chinese lyrics translated by James. {s5_media_player media=[video] width=[640] height=[360] video_mp4=[2020/James_Song.mp4] image=[] image_visibility=[true]}

(From Dr Michelle Fan 范光中, in Sacramento, wife of Bernard Ng Mau-sang 吳茂生 (66) (1948-1994). October 5, 2020)

昨晚收到你的e-mail,關於茂生生前的又一位好友與世長辞。并看完你寫他的事跡,使我感到遺憾的是沒能在他生前見一面。我也去WYKAAO 网站看了他的生平。確實你們都不容易,長期工作太辛苦沒有時間多休息,造成腦血管破裂。在此,向湯教授家人表示深切地哀悼。

~ forwarded by Fong-ying Yu ('61)

(From Cecilia Lai in HK, mother of an applicant to UCLA. October 6, 2020)

“After reading all the memorials (about James Tong), I feel the Hong Kong society has owed much to the philanthropic Jesuit fathers.  Through the quality education at Wah Yan, they have fostered subtly many altruistic scholars, academics and professionals who are willing to pay back to society. Among them was James Tong.

The world is very small. In fact, my daughter, Tracy, had a brief encounter with him more than ten years ago. The incident was so unique that she remembered it well.  Tracy wanted to attend university in the US. She applied to UCLA. One day she received a long distance call from Prof. James Tong, someone we did not know at all, urging her to study at UCLA. Though she did not attend UCLA in the end, she was very impressed by Professor Tong's sincerity.  She also heard from her friend about the warm reception and mentorship he received from  Professor Tong in UCLA.

This anecdote echoes what his wife said in the memorial.  So, gone is the good man. Blessed are we to have had such a good person around us.”

~ forwarded by Fong-ying Yu ('61)

Mementos of James Tong

Click here to read the article by CK Chan and the Family.

Click here to read the article by 张敬珏、解村、吴爽.

(From Nancy Tong, James' sister)

I will tell you about what I know of my brother James:
He was forgetful of his own needs, but would give 200% of himself to those who needed help, to the chagrin of the cynics who thought he gave too much;
He had no bitterness because he did not expect anyone to return his kindness;
He was magnanimous and he didn't give a damn to those who viewed his generosity as a weakness;
He was forgiving because he accepted the fallibility of human beings;
He was the brother whom I could always count on -
He loved me and accepted my flaws.
Words cannot express how much I miss him.